'Health Care King Herod Would Love!'
And It Came to Pass
Advocacy groups have kept up their fights through the holiday season. In fact, the fight over health care was "the Mother of all Battles, the titanic struggle over Obama's determined effort to transform/co-opt a sixth of the American economy," said Dave Andrusko of the National Right to Life Committee in an e-mail to supporters.
The "titanic struggle" included lobbying in the halls of Congress and protests on the streets. Days before the Senate's Christmas Eve vote, the Family Research Council organized a protest at Senator Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) Baton Rouge office, which was closed for the holidays. Images on the FRC website show protestors dressed as Roman soldiers with signs reading:
Health Care King Herod Would Love!
The verses in Matthew refer to Herod's murder of all males under two years of age.
Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, condemned the tactics allegedly used by the Senate leadership to pass the bill. "At a time when most Americans are thinking about the celebration of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was using bribes, extortion, threats, and secrecy to ram through Obama's socialized medicine plan," Lafferty said.
Other groups were also disturbed by how the bill was negotiated.
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice accused the Senate of using Christmas as a distraction as it passed "a very disturbing measure that puts the federal government at the center of what should be private and personal health care decisions."
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) also criticized the wrangling of votes, taking aim at Landrieu and Senator Nelson (D-Neb.) for receiving special concessions in the bill. Land was particularly angry with Nelson, who had said he would not vote for the bill without strong language against federal funding of abortion.
Tony Perkins, president of the FRC,said the Nelson compromise would fund elective abortions and construct abortion facilities. The FRC, like most Christian advocacy groups, favored the stronger restrictions against abortion funding of what is known as the Stupak Amendment in the House version of the bill.
But even if questions of abortion funding could be settled, the FRC and other conservative groups would likely oppose the legislation. ERLC's Doug Carlson wrote, "All told, abortion funding, higher taxes, Medicare cuts, rationed care, and poorer service are gifts worth asking to be exchanged."
Not everyone was so quick to return the Senate's Christmas package.
Dan Nejfelt of Faith in Public Life said that all he wanted for Christmas was a bill that would be affordable to lower-income families. The Senate bill, according to Nejfelt, would assist middle-income families, but the House version was better for those with lower incomes.
"I'm not sure how feasible it is to expect the final package to combine the best of both, but on Christmas Eve eve, that's one of many things I'm hoping for," said Nejfelt.
"Guess We'll Spend"
Although most attention has been focused on health care, Congress also approved appropriations for federal agencies. The "Consolidated Appropriations Act," also referred to as the "Omnibus Spending Bill," provides $447 billion in appropriations for most federal agencies. A separate Defense Department appropriation bill, allocating $663 billion, also passed. Yes, that's over one trillion dollars in federal spending.