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U.S. President Barack Obama stands with Democratic leaders including House Majority Whip James Clyburn, left, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, after a caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Saturday, November 7, 2009. (Brendan Smialowski/2009 Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama stands with Democratic leaders including House Majority Whip James Clyburn, left, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, after a caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Saturday, November 7, 2009. (Brendan Smialowski/2009 Getty Images)

Norman Spector

U.S. health care's from Mars Add to ...

Tuning into the House of Representatives vote last night, I see that 39 Democrats, mostly conservative, defected. And that, contrary to predictions by GOP leaders, one Republican, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao from New Orleans, voted with the majority.

As a Venetian Canadian, I also note that, in Barack Obama's America, "U.S.-style health care" will continue to be two-tier (at least). Though many of them will be subsidized, Americans will be charged premiums. And the House plan will cover an additional 36 million of them by 2019, leaving 4 per cent of Americans without coverage, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office. (Well, at least we can envy them on the latter point.)

However, out here on the west coast, what really caught my attention is a report in this morning's Washington Post:

"[Nancy]Pelosi needed to corral at least 218 of 258 Democrats to push the bill across the finish line. That task appeared to grow easier after party leaders broke a weeks-long impasse over abortion by agreeing to hold a vote on an amendment -- offered by anti-abortion Democrats -- that would explicitly bar the public plan from covering the procedure. The amendment, approved 240 to 194, with 64 Democrats in favor, also would prohibit people who received insurance subsidies from purchasing private plans that covered abortion."

In British Columbia, we once lived under a very right-wing premier who tried to de-fund abortion services. And, while that move doesn't explain fully how Bill Vander Zalm destroyed his premiership, his government and his Social Credit party, it was a major contributor to the crash-up. So much so that, in the nearly two decades that have passed, no Canadian premier has followed in Mr. Vander Zalm's footsteps, not even back east in Alberta.

 

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