Joe Donnelly would prefer voting on health care reform one piece at a time.

Donnelly, the Granger Democrat who represents Fulton County in the U.S. Congress, points to the demise of an insurance industry anti-trust exemption. It was recently flushed by a 409-16 vote. "That's in the big (Senate health care reform) bill," he said. "But being part of the big bill, it's hard to get things done. When they stand alone, you can actually get things accomplished," Donnelly said.

Another element of health reform that Donnelly would like to see voted on individually rather than as part of a big package has to do with pre-existing conditions. He doesn't think that insurance firms should be allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. He also thinks health insurance should be portable - follow an employee when he or she changes jobs.

President Barack Obama wants Congress to vote yes or no on a comprehensive reform measure from the Senate. Donnelly likes a lot about the bill, but its language on abortion is a "fatal flaw." For him, it is a deal breaker. "I would not vote for it," he said. He figures there will be a vote within a month or so. The abortion language is unpopular with "a significant" number of congressmen. It has the potential to kill the bill, he said.

Donnelly says that health reform is needed, and needed soon. The cost of Medicare is an "unsustainable cost burden" that will "overwhelm" the budget if nothing is done, he said. But, he will not vote for the measure approved in the Senate because of that abortion language.

Here, courtesy of Donnelly staffer Elizabeth Shappell, is a list of the abortion-related measures in the Senate health care bill to which Donnelly objects:

1. Contrary to the language governing existing programs such as SCHIP and Medicaid, under the Senate bill the federal government will subsidize insurance policies that cover elective abortion.

2. Under the new Office of Personnel Management program all but one plan could pay for abortion. Currently, OPM administers the Federal Employee Health Insurance Program under which abortion funding is prohibited.

3. Authorities granted to federal officials could be used to mandate abortion coverage.

4. The accounting mechanisms in the Senate bill provide the authority to force many Americans to pay directly into an abortion fund.

5. The Federal Indian health program is reauthorized without the Vitter amendment against funding for elective abortion.

6. The "Hyde-Weldon" conscience protection for health care workers is omitted from the Senate bill.

7. Federal funds can pay for elective abortions at Community Health Centers.

8. High-risk insurance pool funds may be used to pay for abortion.

A complete video webcast of Donnelly's interview in The Sentinel newsroom appears on There are three daily installments, starting today. To view it, click on Sentinel videos.

Here are some highlights:

• Donnelly expects the National Rifle Association to endorse him once more. He does not own a gun.

• The recession hit Indiana's 2nd Congressional District hard. Howard County's jobless rate was as high as 19 percent, he said. Today it is about 12.5 percent. In Elkhart County, the unemployment rate reached 18.9 percent. It is now, 14.4 percent. Fulton County's rate in December 2009: 12.2 percent.

• The district has been allocated $340 million in federal stimulus funds, Donnelly said. Of that, something on the order of 65 percent to 70 percent has yet to be spent.

• Donnelly would define a victory in Afghanistan as a stable government free of terror attacks and no safe haven for al-Qaida. "We're making significant progress right now," said the congressman. Next stop: Kandahar.

• The cost of our military effort in Afghanistan and Iraq exceeds $10 billion a month.

• Voting now underway in Iraq shows that "We have achieved stability in Iraq," Donnelly said. "Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqis." He stopped short of saying the U.S. has achieved a victory in Iraq.

• He expects farm subsidies to decline.

• If it were up to him, the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal would be sealed to prevent entry by Asian carp, an invasive species with the potential to out-compete many popular game fish in the Great Lakes. The Obama administration has opted to keep the canal open and use other means to stymie the carp.

• Donnelly believes that America should drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We can do so in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion, he said.

• His campaign for re-election will cost something like $1 million.