May 21, 2019 - Tuesday
Biden: I'm Not a Hyde Maintenance Guy
If former Vice President Joe Biden was supposed to be the moderate in the race, he apparently didn't get the memo! The frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic nomination has gotten a lot of exercise sprinting to the Left since his announcement in April. First, he threw a fellow member of the Second Family club -- Mike Pence -- under the bus. Then, he turned himself inside out to show his far-Left cred when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) challenged his environmental record. Now, he's sealing the deal as just another Democratic extremist by reversing his longtime position on taxpayer-funded abortion. So much for a reasonable, grown-up, middle-of-the-road campaign.
For someone like Biden, who'd held the same policy position for 40 years, his about-face on abortion should have been bigger news. Instead, Biden's answer -- captured by an ACLU activist on May 4 -- went completely under the radar until Washington Post reporter David Weigel made it a national story last Sunday. While the rest of his party moved farther and farther Left, the Delaware senator always maintained that forcing taxpayers to bankroll abortion was a step too far.
Back in 1973, the eventual vice president was practically conservative on life, arguing that the Supreme Court had overstepped in Roe v. Wade. Twenty years later, in 1994, that hadn't changed. "I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate: those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them," Biden wrote. "As you may know, I have consistently -- on no fewer than 50 occasions -- voted against federal funding of abortions." Even as recently as 2007, before joining the most pro-abortion administration in history, Biden separated himself from his eventual boss. "I've stuck to my middle-of-the-road position on abortion for more than 30 years. I still vote against partial birth abortion and federal funding," he added.
That all changed in 2019 -- the same year (not-so-coincidentally) that his party is trying to make infanticide the new abortion. Pushed twice by a liberal voter about his position on the wall between taxpayers and abortion, Biden finally replied, "It can't stay." Of course, abolishing the Hyde Amendment has been the official position of the Democratic Party since the platform in 2016, but not everyone has rushed to throw their support behind it.
Time will tell just how costly Biden's U-turn is. In a country locked in a coast-to-coast battle over abortion, his veneer of moderation -- which made him an attractive alternative to the rest of the fanatical field -- is gone. For pro-life Democrats, a bloc that's thriving in the rust belt states any candidate would have to win, Biden's change of heart may be a fatal one.
Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life, told NRO's John McCormack, "Biden is making a critical error flip-flopping on his position on the Hyde Amendment," she insists. "Among the current top-tier candidates, there is not a single one who is considering pro-life Democratic voters." He's falling into the trap of "catering to the vocal minority who is pushing an abortion extremist agenda," but, Kristen warns, "that will not resonate with general election voters."
Most Americans agree with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who called the Democrats' plank on abortion funding "crazy." Almost every public poll shows the same opposition: at least 58 percent of voters disagree with Biden that taxpayers should be on the hook for the culture of death. It's a policy so outside the mainstream that even Barack Obama couldn't bring himself to publicly call for what his vice president just endorsed.
This is the man who was supposed to be the party's counterweight to liberal extremism. The grown-up in the room who's likeable and understands the American heartland. As far as most people were concerned, that was Biden's only path to the nomination -- distinguishing himself from the party's fanaticism, not embracing it. Now even he's joined the ranks of the puppets of the radical Left. It's exactly the kind of agenda that failed Hillary Clinton in 2016. Even now, three years into Trump's administration, heartland Democrats have pleaded with the national party to return to the center. "You're Killing Us" was the message to Washington. The contrast between the two major parties on the issue of life has never been more stark...and revealing about where they want to take the nation.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.