According to President Obama, we should put aside politics and pass his stimulus bill. Unfortunately his definition of politics also includes affordable birth control. The President has indicated that he will not stand up for the inclusion of funding for birth control coverage under Medicaid if that is what it takes to bring Republicans on board with his economic plan.
Republicans are up-in-arms over the family planning provision, calling it a wasteful giveaway that will not stimulate the economy. They claim it is an attempt by Democrats to push through their expansion of health care agenda — via an unrelated bill. Looking for an overwhelming victory out of the gates, Obama has tried to placate such GOPers by stripping provisions he would otherwise support — like bankruptcy reform, or in this case expanded health care coverage — to produce a bill Republicans will vote for en-masse.
Say what? Not even a week ago, women’s human rights advocates everywhere were seriously feeling the love for Obama’s swift rescission of the Global Gag rule. Sounds like the honeymoon is over. The truly perverse thing here is that funding birth control makes excellent economic sense. As Christina Page points out,
Yesterday, the Republicans, accompanied by a sadly uninformed media, led a frenzied bitch fest over the inclusion of a family planning provision in the Democrats’ stimulus package. That provision, a mere $200 million of a $825 billion stimulus package, which represents 1/4 of 1%, or 0.225%, of the overall budget, offered a safety net for Americans who need contraceptive coverage but ordinarily would be ineligible for that assistance.
And in another excellent piece from RH Reality Check, this from Cory Richards,
Assisting states with their Medicaid programs is a proven and effective strategy for stimulating the economy in times of economic distress. That’s why the stimulus package contains $87 billion to help states with Medicaid costs. One can only assume that Rep. Boehner’s singling out for criticism the Medicaid spending for contraception is politically motivated.
Not only is it politically motivated, it is highly ironic coming from a self-described fiscal conservative who repeatedly says the stimulus package should include spending that doesn’t increase the deficit. When the Congressional Budget Office assessed a virtually identical provision in 2007, it found that it would save the federal government $200 million over five years by helping women voluntarily avoid pregnancies that otherwise would result in Medicaid-funded births. An expansion such as the one permitted by the stimulus package could save Rep. Boehner’s state of Ohio $1.4 million in 2009 – money that could make a real difference in a hard-hit state that is struggling with significant budget shortfalls.
Finally, writing under the excellent headline, “Boehner Titilates to Tank Stimulus”, Amanda Marcotte writes,
For a group of people largely committed to opposing legal abortion, House Republicans seem to show surprising enthusiasm for keeping the abortion rate sky high.
(W)hile Republicans have latched onto a sexy way to get onto the talk shows to protest the bill, if it wasn’t family planning, it would just be something else.
Serious times like ours demand mature responses. So why on earth is Boehner acting like he’s 10 years old and he just found out what sex is? “Ew, this package has sex cooties all over it!” shouldn’t be the response of a congressman who wishes to be taken as anything but a major league clown.
And while for most of us it isn’t news that the sadly named John Boehner is a sexually repressed misogynist idiot, what I find far more disturbing, although not really surprising is that it would appear that Obama is just as limp when it comes to standing for what is truly, morally right. The government of this country can no longer afford to be run as if it were a political football. It is time that our politicians, starting with our President start doing things because they are the right thing to do, not because they are politically expedient.