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Issue Date:  November 2, 2007

-- MCT

Rep. McCotter
Congressman lashes back at Catholic group

A leading Republican congressman harshly criticized a Catholic group that ran radio ads in October targeting 10 members of Congress who opposed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP.

The spots said that by opposing a bill that would have expanded health coverage for children, the politicians had compromised their pro-life voting records. The ads were paid for by Catholics United for the Common Good, which was founded during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Writing for the National Review Online, Thaddeus G. McCotter, R-Mich., characterized the ads as “dishonest” and said they “stray from the faith of the church.” As chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee, McCotter is the fourth ranking Republican in the House. He was one of the targeted representatives.

In the article, McCotter accused Catholics United of “duplicity,” and called their ads “a lie” that “impugn these pro-life U.S. representatives’ proven commitment to the unborn.”

The ads ran on Christian radio stations in the congressional districts of the representatives in mid-October while Congress debated the SCHIP bill, which President Bush eventually vetoed.

In the radio spots, a woman’s voice says in part: “I believe that protecting the lives of our children must be our nation’s No. 1 moral priority. That’s why I’m concerned that Congressman X says he’s pro-life but votes against health care for poor children. That’s not pro-life. That’s not pro-family.”

Catholics United describes itself as “a national online community of Catholics who believe strongly in our faith’s call to build a society for justice and the common good.” Its Web address is It bills itself as nonpartisan.

In his article, McCotter noted that the group is not sanctioned by the Catholic church. “It is a leftist political front group. No one should be fooled when this devil cites scripture for his own purpose,” he said.

“Underprivileged children deserve medical treatment and all children deserve to inherit the best health care system in the world,” McCotter wrote. “All Americans hold this noble goal for children; but, because this injurious SCHIP version will not attain it, the bill must be honestly opposed.”

Instead of slandering “people who conscientiously disagree with them,” Catholics United would do better to work with Congress to find a health care bill all could support, he said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, and the Catholic Health Association all lobbied Congress and President Bush to support the SCHIP expansion. An override of Bush’s veto failed Oct. 18.

Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United for the Common Good, defended the ads, saying that pointing out a politician’s inconsistencies belongs in the national debate.

Joe Wright, the group’s board chairman, authored a study linking the availability of jobs and health care with lower abortion rates. He said expanding SCHIP would be a “clear and practical step our nation [could] take to reduce abortions.”

“A vote against health care for children is not a pro-life vote,” he said.

-- Dennis Coday

National Catholic Reporter, November 2, 2007

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