Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to defend family planning services as beneficial to the economy, President Obama has appealed to Democrats to strike $200 million in funding for contraceptives from his proposed $825 billion economic stimulus package.
“While [Obama] agrees that greater access to family planning is good policy,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, “the president believes that the funding for it does not belong in the economic recovery and reinvestment plan.”
If the funding added by congressional Democrats last week and targeted through Medicaid to help organizations like Planned Parenthood provide contraception remains in the stimulus package, Republicans warn of a backlash.
“Regardless of where anyone stands on taxpayer funding for contraceptives and the abortion industry,” House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told LifeSiteNews, “there is no doubt that this once little-known provision in the congressional Democrats’ spending plan has nothing to do with stimulating the economy and creating more American jobs.”
Instead, Boehner argued, the congressional Democrats were trying “to force taxpayers to subsidize contraception and the abortion industry.”
Boehner continued, “How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives – how does that stimulate the economy? You can go through a whole host of issues that have nothing to do with growing jobs in America and helping people keep their jobs.”
As WND reported, two days after congressional Democrats added the family planning spending to the stimulus package, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos grilled Pelosi, D-Calif., on the connection between contraception and boosting the economy.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services,” Stephanopoulos asked Pelosi, “how is that stimulus?”
“Well, the family planning services reduce cost,” Pelosi answered. “They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”
Pelosi’s comments immediately came under fire from several sources.
“That’s not going to help grow the economy,” Susan Fani, director of communications for the Catholic League, told OneNewsNow. “It’s quite shocking, actually, that the Speaker of the House – who claims to be Catholic – would go on national television and claim that contraception would reduce the cost to the government.”
“We have reached a new low,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue, “when high-ranking public office holders in the federal government cast children as the enemy.”
An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal presented a detailed argument against Pelosi’s reasoning from an economic standpoint.
“The age and growth rate of a nation help determine its economic prosperity,” argued the editorial. “A smaller workforce can result in less overall economic output. Without enough younger workers to replace retirees, health and pension costs can become debilitating. And when domestic markets shrink, so does capital investment. Whatever one’s views on taxpayer subsidies for contraception, as economic stimulus the idea is loopy.”
After asking his congressional party members to strike the controversial and criticized addition, President Obama met today with Republican leaders, seeking to find support for the $825 billion stimulus package.
The two parties remain divided, however, on the composition of an economic emergency plan. Republicans hope to build a package that consists mostly of tax cuts, Democrats seek a plan heavier on government spending.
Republicans announced after meeting with the president that unless congressional Democrats are willing to budge, Obama’s talk of bipartisanship may prove to be empty.
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told ABC News Republicans were “grateful for the outreach from the White House, but as grateful as we are, we’ve told the president the House Democrats have completely ignored” his call for cooperation.
“Let no one be mistaken that this bill is the result of bipartisan negotiations,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in prepared remarks. “While Republicans were courteously consulted at the member and staff level, we were never at the negotiating table.”
Democrats, however, accused Republicans of a prejudice against the stimulus package that prevents true negotiations.
“Being bipartisan does not mean having to lay down and say, ‘We’ll do whatever you want,'” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said. “Being bipartisan is saying, ‘We’ll talk, we’ll figure it out. If we can agree, we’ll agree.'”
Hoyer continued, “It takes two people to tango, and it takes two parties and two groups to be bipartisan.”
The Associated Press reports the House is expected to vote tomorrow on the bill and that congressional leaders have pledged to have it ready for Obama’s signature by mid-February.