Sebelius eyes explicit ban on abortion funding

SEBELIUS EYES EXPLICIT BAN ON ABORTION FUNDING…. It seemed like an issue that had already been settled — health care reform would not offer public subsidies to pay for terminating unwanted pregnancies. Conservatives, unwilling to take “yes” for an answer, have said the restrictions don’t go far enough.

George Stephanopoulos explored the issue further yesterday, and the administration is apparently willing to give the right what it’s looking for.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told me on ‘This Week’ the President will go beyond language in a House bill to make sure no public money goes to pay for abortions under health care reform.

Abortion foes argue language in the House bill has too many holes and that taxpayers could potentially subsidize abortions. Sebelius told me there will be no uncertainty with the President’s plan.

“In fact recently the Catholic bishops came out, after the President’s statement saying that his statement about what he intends in the plan that no public fund would go to fund abortion and the fact that he has come out firmly for insuring all Americans and saying that it’s a moral issue as well as an economic issue and they endorsed moving forward. I think the legislative language will reflect what the President has just said.”

I continue to think these are not exactly effective negotiating techniques. Republicans say, “We want explicit language in the bill that would restrict coverage for illegal immigrants.” The White House responds, “You got it. What are you willing to concede in return?” To which the GOP answers, “Nothing.”

Likewise, Republicans say, “We want explicit language in the bill that would prohibit funding for abortion.” The White House responds, “No problem at all. What are you willing to concede in return?” To which the GOP answers, “Nothing.”

My hunch is, the White House wants to make it as politically awkward as possible for Republicans to oppose the bill. The president wants to be able to tell the public that he offered the GOP a reform bill with tort reform, no funding for abortion, no coverage for undocumented immigrants, no deficit increases, no tax increases on the middle class, no “death panels” or “death books,” and quite possibly no public option — and the congressional minority stll rejected the legislation.

For all I know, this would be an effective rhetorical/political strategy for the White House, and the public would be disgusted by Republican obstinacy. But no one should have any doubts as to whether these concessions will actually garner GOP votes. They won’t — Republicans don’t support health care reform.