Mais non! Apres vous, mon cher Alphonse!

Is the health reform dance almost over?

Most hopeful story on Passing. The. Damned. Bill yet.  The House doesn’t want to pass the Senate bill without some changes – e.g., getting rid of the Cornhusker Kickback – to be done via reconciliation.  But for procedural reasons, says Reid, the Senate can’t go first.  (If the reconciliation bill is a “revenue measure,” it must Constitutionally start in the House.)  But perhaps the House can pass a reconciliation bill including the changes first, then send it to the Senate, with the House voting on the Senate’s health bill only after the Senate has approved the reconciliation bill embodying the fixes.

What I find encouraging about all this is that the conversation makes no sense unless – as I suspected – Pelosi has enough votes in her pocket to pass the bill.

Bart Stupak, and some of his fellow fans of forced childbirth who voted for the House bill with the Stupak Amendment attached, will vote no on passing the Senate bill.  Since the thing barely passed the last time – with only one Democratic vote to spare, plus Anh Cao’s meaningless “Yes” cast after the board already showed 218 – that would seem to doom the bill.

But I was told weeks ago by a staffer for a Blue Dog who voted against the bill the first time that his boss had already promised Pelosi to vote for final passage when the bill came back from (as then expected) the conference committee, and that his member wasn’t the only one to get a “pass” on the first vote in return for a pledge on the second.   I think the thing is going to happen.  Having exhausted all the alternatives, the Democrats on the Hill will finally do the right thing.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

11 thoughts on “Mais non! Apres vous, mon cher Alphonse!”

  1. I find it interesting, Mark, how you refer to the avoidance of mass murder of unborn children as "forced childbirth".

  2. Indeed, Bux, the point of the locution "forced childbirth" is to highlight by ironic contrast the tendentiousness of phrasing such as yours.

  3. I'm optimistic.

    A minor quibble: "forced childbirth". Is this a newly popular phrase or is it just me? I kind of like the reframing, as it appeals to my own position. But it seems to suffer from the same partisan structure as it's ideological antonyms, "pro-abortion" and "pro-life". Their definition is based upon a prior definition, thus requiring their truth to be subjective. So in a way, they are less about stating a truth than a reiteration of the speaker's own position.

    The root issue, of course, is how you view the fetus. I don't see it as much more than a mass of underdeveloped cell tissue. So I'm fine with abortion as a moral and pragmatic, if inconvenient, solution. I am not however, pro-abortion, in that I want people to have abortions. And I am pro-life, in that I am for it(!), based on my definition of when it becomes important.

    If you believe that "life" (defined at least as something worth protecting) begins at some point before birth, then you likely feel that all abortions are wrong, in all cases. You are not, however, necessarily in favor of the thought of "forced labor". Nor are you even necessarily opposed to women having the right to decide their own moral position, as you may not feel the authority to make such a bold proclamation yourself. I know this takes a special type of religious liberalism (honesty?) that is sadly lacking in America.

    The nice thing about "anti-abortion" and "pro-choice" is that they are both 100% true, and leave room for ambiguity of meaning. While maybe not comprehensive definitions, they are perfectly true as far as they go (Who is FOR abortions? Well, forget I asked…). I would actually prefer the terms pro- and anti-choice. because that is I think a clearer description of philosophical intent. Regardless of how one feels about individual abortions, the degree to which one wants society to prevent them universally is reflected in the use of the term "choice".

  4. I think the thing is going to happen. The name of this blog is hilarious given the fantasies you include in your analysis. First, reconciliation for anyone who understands the process, would subject each sentence of the Health Care fiasco's 2000+ pages to examination line-by-line, with any Senator able to object that a given sentence isn't a fiscal or budgetary, but rather a policy matter. Policy matters are not subject to reconciliation. To keep said objected-to sentence in the bill would require a vote of SIXTY [60] Senators to include. After 10-20,000 sentences and a reconciliation drill lasting a minimum of three months, the Health :Care would look like Swiss cheese. THE FINAL BILL WOULD THEN BE VOTED ON WITH 51 VOTES needed for a majority. Kleiman is obviously the victim of an elaborate maneuver by the Dem leadership to disguise their retreat so as to keep the surreal dodo ultra left from their normal tantrums—pig-headed Pelosi WANTS a bill, but Reid knows better. It ain't gonna happen…

    Since the term "retarded" is now hors-de-combat, let's just say I'd like to sell Kleiman some acres of very well-watered land about 20 miles west of Boca Raton….

  5. DaveinBoca: The Senate has already passed the 2000+ page Health Care Bill and does not need to pass it again. The House will pass it unchanged. What needs to pass through reconciliation is a much smaller and different bill. An elaborate maneuver, yes, but made necessary by GOP obstructionism and the institutional vestiges of slave power in the Senate. Further, it doesn't seem that the fear of the normal tantrums of the surreal dodo ultra left doesn't seem to be a big factor in anything. That ship has already sailed.

  6. Bux, what's wrong with calling abortion "mass murder" is that it is not mass and it is not murder. Except when multiple fetuses are aborted from the same womb, an abortion is the individual killing of a fetus (and when multiple fetuses are aborted from the same womb, there are not enough of them to call them "mass"). And the killing of a fetus is generally legal, so it is not murder. Even when it is illegal, as when someone assaults a pregnant woman and her fetus dies as a result, I do not believe that it is called murder, although that may vary from state to state.

    Eli, the root issue is not how you view the fetus. The fetus is whatever it is, not whatever one calls it. It is a bit of cell tissue that develops until, soon before birth, it is a being virtually identical to a newborn baby. Also, if you believe that a fetus is alive, then you do not necessarily oppose abortion. This is because it does not matter whether you believe that a fetus is alive. A fetus is alive; that is a biological fact.

    In conclusion, a fetus is a fetus and a fetus is alive. I believe that abortion should be legal because I do not believe that the state should have the power to tell anyone what to do with his or her body.

  7. Mark, I read and enjoy virtually every word you write but sometimes your optimism is overwhelming. Hope to God I'm the one who's wrong, though.

  8. Henry, I'm not sure you make the case to Bux that abortion isn't mass murder. It certainly happens often enough to be considered "mass". And if one truly believes that a fetus is a life in the same way that a human is a life after birth, then, regardless of whether any law permits it or not, it is murder (if they passed a law tomorrow permitting the killing of uncles, that would still be murder).

    But that brings us back to what my original intended point was – what is a sacred "life"? I don't view any fetus as a "life" in the same way as I would say, an infant. I described it as an "underdeveloped mass of tissue" (although that isn't quite fair, into later stages it is certainly more than that), and in many ways I would agree that it is alive. However, my personal considerations as to whether it should be treated with the same status as a birthed human are complex. It is from these considerations that my view on abortion rests. So I think how you view the fetus is, ultimately, the original assumption from which all subsequent views stem. It may not be just whether the fetus is physically a life, but whether it is the type of life that should be sacralized.

    Returning to Bux's original objection, it is a common view of those wishing to outlaw abortion that the fetus is simply a younger version of an infant. In this view, abortion is no different than if a doctor were to kill a small child. Logically, that is the very definition of murder. If one believes without a doubt that this is what abortion is, then well, I think outrage is entirely justified. "Choice" then, is not about whether a woman has the right to choose whether she believes what abortion means, but whether or not to kill her child.

  9. Eli, I continue to disagree that abortion is "mass" anything, because one person or one organized group of people do not commit a mass number of abortions. If all abortions could be combined into a "mass," then so could all murders of individual adults. There were 509 people murdered in Chicago in 2008, but we do not speak of them as "mass murder."

    I agree with you, however, that I was viewing "murder" too legalistically. We refer to Hitler's "murder" of six million Jews, even though these murders may have been legal under German law.

    As for the rest of your post, I do not care what sort of life a fetus has; I care that it is inside a woman's body and she should therefore have full say over its fate. Perhaps an exception banning late-term abortions, where the health of the pregnant woman is not in danger, should be made allowed, because the imposition on the pregnant woman is less if she has already carried the fetus almost to term.

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