Lynch and the Anti-Obamacare Massachusetts Democrats

Congressman Stephen Lynch finds himself in some unusual company in having opposed Obamacare. Let’s not forget that Democratic Party 2010 senate nominee Attorney General Martha Coakley and her main primary opponent Congressman Michael Capuano both pledged to kill the Affordable Care Act.

In 2009 Coakley said she would not vote for a version of the health care bill passed by the House because it contained a provision restricting federal funding for abortion services. On November 10, 2009 the Globe reported that Coakley “said that fighting for women’s access to abortions was more important than passing the overall bill, despite its aim of providing coverage for 36 million people, establishing a public insurance option, and prohibiting insurers from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions.”

Congressman Michael Capuano, who had voted yes, gleefully attacked Coakley for announcing that she would oppose all the pro-choice members of the Massachusetts delegation, violate the legacy of Senator Ted Kennedy, refuse to vote for a bill that is not perfect, and generally exhibit no idea of how Congress works.

Then the next day Capuano changed his mind and announced that he too would vote against the bill unless the abortion funding language was changed. Whoops. The Coakley campaign seemed satisfied with its position, stating that it “had one of the best online fundraising days to date.”

Now however the Globe reports in Lynch’s 2010 health vote at issue in campaign that his vote to do what Coakley and Capuano would have done is giving him all kinds of trouble in the Democratic primary against Congressman Ed Markey. The congressman has tried to explain that his vote was based on concerns about lack of cost control mechanisms, the failure to include a public option, the “Cadillac” tax on high benefit plans negotiated by unions, and giveaways to the insurance companies. Obamacare backers have not forgiven Lynch for reversing his earlier support of the bill at such a historic moment.

Lynch has also been at some pains to reposition his stance on abortion – the very issue on which Senator Martha Coakley would have killed Obamacare.

Are pro-choice advocates the most powerful interest in the Democratic Party? It sure looks that way based on the behavior of Democrats facing a statewide primary electorate.

About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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