Note: This post has been updated below.
Less than 24 hours after completing my happy dance over the Obama Administration’s repeal of the Bush Administration’s global gag rule and midnight DHHS regulation (eventually), Senate Republicans have once again decided to use contraception as a political football in their efforts to turn the Obama Administration’s stimulus package into a set of tax cuts.
I have three questions for Representative John Boehner and his colleagues:
- What is it about contraception with you guys?
- You do know that contraception is not abortion, right?
- Do you want all Americans to stop having sex? Because that’s what it seems like.
Or maybe it’s just poor Americans? As TPM’s Elana Schor points out, Repubican lawmakers oppose helping states provide women’s health care in the federal stimulus package:
“First of all, the family-planning program that Pelosi supports expanding in the stimulus bill was created in 1972 under the leadership of Republican president Richard Nixon.”
What’s being proposed is an expansion in the number of states that can use Medicaid money, with a federal match, to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies. Of the 26 states that already have Medicaid waivers for family planning, eight are led by Republican governors (AL, FL, MS, SC, CA, LA, MN and RI — a ninth, MO, had a GOP governor until this past November). If this policy is truly a taxpayer gift to “the abortion industry,” as John Boehner and House Republicans claim, where are the GOP governors promising to end the program in their states?
Additionally, the process of obtaining a waiver for Medicaid family-planning coverage is extremely cumbersome. A letter written by Wisconsin health regulators in 2007 noted that some states have had to wait for as long as two years before their request was approved. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that eliminating the waiver requirement would save states $400 million over 10 years.” (emphasis mine)
That’s right. Republican lawmakers all of a sudden don’t support a Republican program and a waiver that will save $400 million dollars. Makes perfect sense, right?
Of course what these new talking points are really about is Republican members of Congress searching for a scapegoat to flog in the Democratic stimulus plan in order to appear fiscally responsible while protesting the bill. When all else fails, their impulse is to whip up a an irresponsible dialogue about contraception and abortion…..again. Like Digby says:
“Boehner’s cute soundbite about contraceptives is, of course, nonsense. The money he’s talking about is for medicaid, which is desperately needed at a time when people are losing their jobs — and, by the way, will help stimulate the economy by paying the doctors, pharmacies and hospitals for the (much increased) care they give, something that is a big problem at a time when states are going broke.”
During the worst financial crisis in American history since the Great Depression, this kind of assistance is necessary for state governments, but you can always county on Republican lawmakers to pick on the women and children first. Forget about the men redecorarting their offices and buying corporate jets. They deserver bailouts.
Unfortunately, about an hour after I wrote this post, it appears that Obama may be caving to the House Republicans’ whose hissy fit seems to have paid off. From the AP:
“House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.”
This is very disappointing news. Once again it appears that it’s women who will suffer at the hands of “bipartisanship.” What do you guys think? Am I over-reacting?