Texas Republicans learn that some spending cuts are just way too expensive.
The fight to restore family planning financing that was cut from the Texas budget in the last legislative session has taken a turn toward primary care. Republican state senators have proposed adding $100 million to a state-run primary care program specifically for women’s health services, an effort that would help avoid a political fight over subsidizing specialty family planning clinics.
“It’s a much better way to treat the women because they don’t just have family planning issues,” said Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, a family physician who has advocated for increasing primary care services for women.
Using taxpayer dollars to finance family planning services has become politically thorny in Texas, largely because of Republican lawmakers’ assertions that the women’s health clinics providing that care were affiliated with abortion providers. In the fiscal crunch of 2011, the Legislature cut the state’s family planning budget by two-thirds, with some lawmakers claiming that they were defunding the “abortion industry.” Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that more than 50 family planning clinics closed statewide as a result of lost financing.
Now, amid estimates that the cuts could lead to 24,000 additional births in 2014-15 at a cost to taxpayers of $273 million, lawmakers are seeking a bipartisan solution to restore financing without ruffling feathers.
Of course, what’s actually happening here is that they’re looking at restoring family planning funding, but putting it under primary care services in hopes of keeping the anti-family planning religious nutjobs from noticing a retreat from their extremist position. After gutting Planned Parenthood funding, Texas is facing a public reproductive healthcare crisis — in the form of a wave of unplanned pregnancies. You really didn’t need a crystal ball to see that one coming. It’s obvious and it’s exactly what critics of the move predicted would happen.
But, in addition to showing how the GOP War on Women is boneheaded and wrong, it also shows that some spending is cheaper than the consequence of cutting that spending. It may cost a lot to keep a dam in good repair, but it’ll cost a lot more if the dam gives way. This is the same principle. You spend money now to make sure women have access to adequate reproductive health care or you pay later for the increased health spending and poverty that comes with unexpected pregnancies. I don’t care how many times you say, “But the Bible says…” you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Long story short, when a liberal talks about investing in America’s future, we’re not just spreading horse manure — we really do mean making investments in America’s future. You either deal with problems now or spend one helluva lot more money dealing with them later. And, of course, by dealing with it now, you avoid a whole lot of screwed up lives and futures.
Contrary to the rightwing stereotype, liberals aren’t about spending taxpayer money because of some hippy-dippy “Oooh, we gotta all love each other, baby” stuff. This is hardheaded realism. It’s the people who think we can cut everything and anything who are the head-in-the-clouds dreamers. Don’t want to pay taxes to support family planning? Sucks to be you, but you’re going to do it. Because this is America and in America we try do what’s in America’s best interests. I pay for nuclear weapons I hate, you can at least pay for some birth control. You’re not special.
If the Texas retreat from the extremist position teaches us anything, it’s that Republican claims to fiscal genius aren’t just ridiculous, they’re hilarious.
McConnell voted to let companies pay women less than men for the same work. And now he wants to let bosses deny women birth control coverage. Even while men get their Viagra covered.
The fact is, Mitch McConnell’s plan could cost Kentucky women and families up to extra $600 a year. That’s just not fair.
Clinics Closing in Wisconsin
Because of extreme legislative anti-choice attacks in Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood will have to close four health centers in that state.
And as for the culprits behind this attack on choice…
Violence is never the answer, and I will always condemn any and all violent attacks against our fellow Americans. In this country, we resolve our differences through political discussion and free and fair elections – never by violence. This upcoming election is about restoring freedom and liberty in America, and a key part of that is to restore a culture that values human life and the dignity of all Americans. While we can and should work to defund Planned Parenthood and push back against government mandates that force Americans and religious institution to violate their faith, violence against our fellow citizens has no place in a freedom-loving America.
Susan G. Komen, Planned Parenthood, and the ‘Teachable Moment’
One of the most abused terms in politics is “teachable moment.” Most of the time, when someone says, “This is a teachable moment,” what they’re really saying is, “On the bright side, we’ve figured out an additional way to fail. We won’t do that again.” Besides, it’s become threadworn and cliche. The way it’s used currently, it’s almost meaningless. With that in mind, I present you with an honest-to-goodness teachable moment.
The Atlantic Wire:
The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed its position on Planned Parenthood, and will continue funding the organization after all, issuing a statement that apologizes “for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.” The move comes after a week of online protest over the news that Komen would end a grant to Planned Parenthood to provide mammograms. It was not a move that Komen took lightly. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg unearthed memos from December that show how the Komen foundation instructed its employees to “obfuscate the issues when confronted with questions about why Komen cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.” The letters outline “updated eligibility requirements” that include changes in tax-exemption status and loss of federal funding, among other things.
The first lesson here is the most obvious; if you’re a foundation dedicated to fighting a certain disease, don’t make politically-motivated funding decisions that will actually increase the overall severity of that disease. Planned Parenthood offers cancer screenings — for some women, the only access to such screenings they have — and cutting funding would mean fewer screenings. Fewer screenings means more instances of undiagnosed breast cancer. You can do the math from there.
But the most obvious lesson isn’t the one that needs pointing out. The better and less obvious lesson is that when an organization does something you believe is insane, don’t just shut up about it. The campaign to restore PP’s funding won their battle (or seems to have — don’t let your guard down until all the details are out) with astonishing speed. And they did it in the face of a PR campaign to defend that decision that had been under construction since at least December. Komen unveiled their decision and their big, carefully crafted PR machine started rolling — and they lost their battle in a matter of days. When they made their announcement, Komen was prepared and their soon-to-be critics were not. And all of Komen’s careful preparation got them squat. In their press release, also from The Atlantic’s link, we see that PR machine still rolling, but repurposed for damage control, while Komen scrambles to put out enough white flags to satisfy their critics.
Another lesson is that Planned Parenthood is a lot more popular than Republicans seem to believe. They’ve made the women’s health centers a political football, attacking them, running kangaroo court investigations into them, and working to cut their funding in order to throw a bone to their “pro-life” base. They originally saw this as a political asset, but there’s now very good evidence that it may be more of a liability. Democrats can stop worrying about publicly defending Planned Parenthood now. It’s clear there are plenty who would have their backs. Here in Wisconsin, Scott Walker’s attacks on PP should be a part of the criticism leveled against him as he heads into a recall election. The GOP’s attacks on Planned Parenthood’s funding should make them the pro-breast cancer party.
This is the same sort of teachable moment we arrived at with SOPA and PIPA, as well as the 99-percent movement; if enough people make enough noise, it scares the beejesus out of people in power. Because that power isn’t inherent in them, but is sort of borrowed — collectively — from everyone else. The “consent of the governed” doesn’t apply only to governments, but to institutions as well. We can take it away — and it pays to remind them of that. Often.