Bart Stupak has exasperated his constituents, and Democrats across the United States, for his inconstant position on health care reform. He’s said he supports the package, but worked to delay it, introduced an amendment that threaten to destroy health care reform legislation by using it to eradicate insurance coverage for abortion, and then declared he’s willing to work it all out, if the price is right. Stupak has given the impression that, instead of keeping the health care needs of Americans in mind, he’s mostly concerned about finding a way to leverage his position to increase his own political power.
It’s not a new approach for Stupak, who has a history of playing political games with important policy issues. Back in the 110th Congress, for example, Stupak performed an astounding flip on the issue of citizen protection from big government spying programs, online and in the physical world, that had been started by George W. Bush in spite of the fact that they were plainly illegal.
First, Stupak opposed a Republican effort to legalize the spying program, voting against the Protect America Act. The next year, however, Stupak switched positions, and voted in favor of a bill that included the provisions of the Protect America Act, but even made them worse, legalizing Bush’s spying program not just in the future, but retroactively as well, and providing immunity to telecommunications companies that had knowingly broken the law by revealing extensive private information about their American customers.
Finally, voters’ exasperation with Stupak’s political maneuvering has burst into organized resistance within his own party. Former teacher Connie Saltonstall has announced that she intends to challenge Stupak in the Democratic primary election this year, primarily because of Stupak’s interference with health care reform legislation. The primary will be held on the third of August. Saltonstall must gain sufficient signatures to qualify for a space on the ballot by the eleventh of May.