Tuesday, February 2, 2010

WHITE HOUSE REVENGE? Stupak: ‘Disappointed’ With Obama’s Scholarship Cut. Is This Retribution?

Bart Stupak is learning a valuable lesson in dealing with Barack Obama.

The visuals all around on this look bad — especially with the Winter Olympics coming up.

Congress funds a $1 million scholarship fund at Northern Michigan University for aspiring Olympic athletes. Robert Costa notesthe scholarship was renamed in 1998 for Bart Stupak’s son who had committed suicide.

Stupak, you will remember, insisted that Obamacare not fund abortion, even against the wishes of Barack Obama.

On Monday morning, when Obama unveiled his budget he had killed the B. J. Stupak scholarship for aspiring Olympians. The Olympics begin in ten days

With tax hikes dominating today’s budget debate, you will not hear much about the smaller federal grants that President Obama is hoping to slash. One proposed cut sticks out: Obama’s budget eliminates a $1 million scholarship program for aspiring Olympic athletes at Northern Michigan University. Here’s why it matters: In 1998, the program was renamed to honor B. J. Stupak, the late son of Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.), who committed suicide in 2000. Is the cut related to Stupak’s playing hardball on health care last year?

Stupak won’t speculate on the politics of the decision, but he does tell National Review Online that he is “disappointed” to hear about the cut. He says he found out about it through the media, not the president or the Democratic leadership. He notes, however, “that in the 18 years I’ve been in Congress, never has a presidential staff called me to tell they are cutting something. Usually everyone around here scrambles after a budget is released.”

Stupak pledges to fight for the grant to be reinstated into the budget. “I’ll do my appropriations request and put in testimony. I want it to be funded on its own merit. President Bush did the same thing, and we always restored it. We need to do a better job explaining the program.” Stupak adds that with the Winter Olympics approaching, it is “time to remind Congress why it is important to provide educational assistance to aspiring young Olympic athletes. We’ll all be cheering our athletes next month, but we should remember that programs like this give a major boost to those training for the games. Shani Davis, the first black speed skater to make the U.S. Olympic team, credits the scholarship with keeping in him school. There are hundreds of stories like that. This program has become a small farm team for Olympic education.”

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