Wash. Times advances falsehoods about Matheson bribe, abortion funding

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

A Washington Times editorial falsely claimed both that Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) "endorsed the health care bill" after President Obama nominated his brother to a federal judgeship and that the bill funds abortions. In fact, Matheson voted "No" on the health care reform, and the bill does not contain federal funding for abortion.

Wash. Times: Matheson "endorsed the health care bill" and Obama "nominated" his brother to a judgeship

From the April 9 Washington Times editorial:

After selling out, Rep. Bart Stupak is walking out. The Michigan Democrat who tried to pass himself off as pro-life announced Friday that he no longer seeks re-election. It's understandable that Mr. Stupak is unwilling to face voters in his working-class Upper Peninsula district after casting a decisive vote in favor of a nationalized health care plan that would allow, with the stroke of the president's pen, millions of abortions at public expense.

[...]

President Obama, however, has proved generous to other toadies in need. Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah Democrat, endorsed the health care bill, and the president nominated Mr. Matheson's brother Scott for a lifetime job on the federal bench. Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, admitted that the White House offered him a "high-ranking" federal job - widely believed to be the post of Navy secretary - in return for his dropping out of a contested Senate primary race. It would be unfair to speculate whether Mr. Stupak expects a helping hand from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Fact: Rep. Matheson voted "No" on both the Senate's health care bill and the Reconciliation package

Matheson voted against both the Senate bill and Reconciliation package. According to the U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk, Matheson voted against both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is health care reform legislation passed by the Senate, and the Reconciliation package, which made changes to the Senate bill. Matheson also voted "No" for the original House health care bill.

Fact: Allegations of a deal between the White House and Rep. Matheson are completely baseless

WH, Judge McConnell and Sen. Bennett debunk Matheson smear. Politico's Chris Frates reported that Rep. Matheson's spokeswoman "called the question 'patently ridiculous,' saying there was no deal made between her boss and the president that guaranteed Scott Matheson's nomination in exchange for Rep. Matheson's vote." Frates later noted that a "White House official calls the charge 'absurd.' 'Scott Matheson is a leading law scholar and has served as a law school dean and U.S. Attorney. He's respected across Utah and eminently qualified to serve on the federal bench,' the official said." Likewise, a spokesman for Republican Sen. Robert Bennett (UT), and former Judge Michael McConnell -- an appointee of former President Bush -- who last occupied the seat to which Scott Matheson has been named, definitively debunked the smear.

Right-wing media figures repeatedly accused Obama of "selling judgeships for health care votes." A March 3 Weekly Standard post by John McCormack was headlined "Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes? Obama names brother of undecided House Dem to Appeals Court." Hot Air blogger Allahpundit headlined a post on the subject "Brother of Democrat who's undecided on ObamaCare nominated for federal judgeship." The post further stated, "His exact words this afternoon: 'I will do everything in my power to make the case for reform.' And so he will, so he will." In a March 3 post headlined "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Bribe 'Em: Obama Now Trading Judgeships For Votes," RedState's Lori Ziganto wrote, "Chicago-style politics once again coming home to roost."

Fact: Health care bill does not contain federal funding for abortion

Senate bill forbids use of federal subsidies for abortion services except in cases allowed by the Hyde amendment. The health care reform bill passed by the Senate states that if a "qualified health plan" offered under the health insurance exchange provides coverage of abortion services for which public funding is banned, "the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable" to the federal subsidies created under the bill "for purposes of paying for such services." Public funding is currently banned by the Hyde amendment for all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the pregnant woman is in danger.

Senate bill requires insurance plans that cover abortion to segregate funds to ensure that federal funds are not used to pay for abortions. The Senate bill requires issuers to "collect from each enrollee" in plans that cover abortions a "separate payment" for "an amount equal to the actuarial value of the coverage of" abortion services. All such funds are deposited into a separate account used by the issuer to pay for abortion services; federal funds and the remaining premium payments are used to pay for all other services. Additionally, as Slate.com's Timothy Noah noted, the Senate bill requires that "every insurance exchange must offer at least one abortion-free health plan," so people who do not want to pay the "fee" "can simply choose a different health plan offered through the exchange, one that doesn't cover abortions."

Current law permits abortion coverage through Medicaid so long as funds are segregated. According to a November 1, 2009, study by the Guttmacher Institute, 17 states provide coverage under Medicaid for "all or most medically necessary abortions," not just abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Those states "us[e] their own funds" -- not federal funds -- "to pay" for the procedures. Therefore, in 17 states, Medicaid, a federally subsidized health care program, covers abortions in circumstances in which federal money is prohibited from being spent on abortion.

ABC World News "Truth Squad": "[T]he bill makes it clear there can be no federal money for abortion." On March 4, The ABC World News "Truth Squad" investigated Stupak's claim that "the federal government will directly subsidize abortions" in the Senate bill and found "the bill makes it clear there can be no federal money for abortion."

White House: "[T]he legislation as written maintains current law." In an introduction to the language of the executive order, the White House noted [emphasis added]:

Today, the President announced that he will be issuing an executive order after the passage of the health insurance reform law that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.

While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation's restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented.

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