Stupak’s tough talk

STUPAK’S TOUGH TALK…. The last we heard from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), he was making a variety of bold threats about killing health care reform unless his expansive anti-abortion measure is included in the final bill. This morning, Stupak showed up on “Fox & Friends” for a little more chest-thumping.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) pledged this morning to defeat healthcare reform if his abortion amendment is taken out, saying 10 to 20 pro-life Democrats would vote against a bill with weaker language.

“They’re not going to take it out,” Stupak said on Fox and Friends, referring to Senate Democrats. “If they do, health care will not move forward.”

Responding to White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod’s contention that the Stupak measure goes too far and would have to be “adjusted,” the Michigan lawmaker responded, “We won fair and square…. [T]hat is why Mr. Axelrod is not a legislator, he doesn’t really know what he is talking about.”

Exactly who doesn’t know what he’s talking about is open to some debate.

Here’s what we know at this point. First, Stupak had claimed that he representing a voting bloc of 40 votes, but as of this morning, he believes his faction is made up of “at least 10 to 15 to 20” House Dems who oppose abortion rights. For Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership, making up the loss of 40 votes is impossible to overcome. A 10-vote bloc represents a serious problem — it would require some Dems who voted against the bill to change their minds — but not an insurmountable hurdle.

Second, Stupak’s amendment appears to have no shot at all in the Senate. It would need 60 votes, and it probably doesn’t even have 50. The one conservative Dem who seemed the most supportive of the measure has since reversed course.

And third, Stupak can talk tough on “Fox & Friends,” and the show’s audience no doubt appreciates it, but he may not be able to back up the bravado. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, argued this morning that when push comes to shove, Stupak won’t be able to kill reform over this one issue.