What About The Republicans Who Conspired With Stupak? One, Joe Pitts, Is Vulnerable To Defeat Next Year
-by Mary Jean Collins
Let's not let this Republican off the hook. Remember the name Joe Pitts, Republican Rep from PA-16.
On Saturday night, the House passed the Health Care plan with a narrow 220 to 215 majority. Before passage, an amendment was added to the bill making it virtually impossible for private insurance companies that participate in the new system to offer abortion coverage to women. This could have the affect of restricting women's right to use even their own money to obtain coverage for abortion as a medical alternative. The amendment passed by a vote of 240-194 with every single Republican and 64 Democrats forming the majority. it remains to be seen if this amendment can be removed in the Senate bill or in a subsequent conference committee.
While our anger is rightly directed at the Blue Dog and anti-choice Democrats, lets not let the Republicans off the hook for their role in adding a prohibition of funding for abortion in private as well as public plans. Let's remember that 176 Republicans including some who call themselves pro-choice, helped to add the amendment to the Health bill.
It serves progressive interests to hold Republicans accountable especially in districts where pro-choice progressive champions are ready to run effective campaigns against the Republicans. While we challenge Blue Dog Democrats in 2010, let's keep our eye on Republican held seats where there is an opportunity to turn a district from Republican to progressive Democrat.
The restrictive abortion amendment was co-sponsored by Bart Stupak Democrat of Michigan and Joe Pitts, Republican from Pennsylvania. Joe Pitts led the fight on the floor for the Republican side while Stupak rounded up the Democrats. In the week leading up to the vote he spoke at Michelle Bachman's rally at the Capitol.
You may never have heard of Representative Joe Pitts. He represents the 16th district in southeastern Pennsylvania and is seeking an 8th term in 2010. Pitts is a hard-line Republican right winger from the an area of Pennsylvania known better for its Amish farmers and farmland. The district has had a registered Republican majority until this year when registration fell under 50%. Election statistics are changing. In the 2008 election, President Obama received 48% of the vote an astonishing increase over Kerry's 38% total in 2004. The district is moving away from the politics of Joe Pitts.
In addition to his strong opposition to women's rights, Pitts voted against increasing the minimum wage, expanding SCHIP, against expanding protection for LGBT members in the workplace, and against the hate crimes bill. He opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, supports the Don't Ask don't Tell policy, opposes changes in environmental policy, in other words a hard right Republican who is financed by corporate and right wing interests. And women aren't the only ones he seems eager to prevent from getting health care. Fanatically opposed to meaningful health care reform, the bill that Pitts voted again Saturday night would have done a great deal for the residents of PA-16:
• Improve employer-based coverage for 452,000 residents.
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 153,000 households.
• Improve Medicare for 112,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole
for 12,200 seniors.
• Allow 16,700 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits
to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 14,400 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 51,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 700 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $14 million.
In 2010 there is a choice in PA 16. Lois Herr is the Democratic candidate in the district and she has exact opposite positions to those offered by Pitts. She has fought for women's rights and progressive issues her whole life. Herr is not afraid to say she is prochoice and that she will lead the fight not only for women's health but for progressive health care reform. Herr supports single payer or a strong public option. Lois is a native of the district. She has been an executive, a farmer, a teacher, a leader of the Democratic party and in many community based organizations. She has written two books, the latestdedicated to her father who was a loved coach at Elizabethtown College.
I've known Lois for over 30 years. When she worked for Bell Labs in Illinois and I lived in Chicago, and we worked together in the National Organization For Women, fighting for employment rights, reproductive rights and the Equal Rights Amendment. She organized women to fight for equal justice inside AT & T.
Lois is running in a district that is not yet targeted by national organizations. It is a district moving toward progressive politics. It needs our help getting there. Our community investing in this district would help expose the Pitts record, build progressive organizing and yes, winning a new member of Congress in 2010. So often when a district goes from Republican to Democrat we find ourselves with a Blue Dog. Not in this district, Lois is a progressive. Please consider helping her through ActBlue, especially if you'd like to send Joe Pitts a message, a retirement message.
UPDATE: Behind The Jolly Smile, Joe Pitts Is A Member Of The Dangerous, Neo-Fascist C-Street Group, The Family
Most Americans never heard of The Family until John Ensign's sexscapades wound up on the front pages of the nation's newspapers. It's a bizarre religionist cult with immense political power and, predictably, Joe Pitts is a member. (Stupak is still denying he's also a member.) The best information about Pitts' extremist cult can be found in Jeff Sharlet's startling and disturbing book, The Family, The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.