Oh, Grow Up: Boehner Titillates to Tank Stimulus

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. 
After the anti-contraception debacles such as defunding the UNFPA, rewriting
HHS regulations to define contraception as abortion, and the battle
over emergency contraception at the FDA, you’d think that anti-choice
Republicans would have learned to practice discretion.  But no,
John Boehner, House minority leader, has decided to attach anti-contraceptive
nuttery to an issue that’s getting a ton of coverage–the economic
stimulus package. He’s
been making the talk show circuit

protesting the economic stimulus because poor people will have sex
if they pass it.

That’s the implication, anyway. 
In reality, Boehner is using contraception to titillate people about
the $300 billion in the budget of the stimulus package that will go
to states in a budget crisis, and a small percentage of that will shore
up Medicaid spending on contraception.  In other words, poor people
are already doing it, and the stimulus package makes sure they don’t
suffer breaks in their contraception access that will lead directly
to unintended pregnancy, and, especially in this economy, to abortion.   

and, at
RH Reality Check, Cory
have pointed
out the obvious: Medicaid-provided contraception does in fact stimulate
the economy.  By not getting pregnant when they don’t want to
be, poorer women save money that they would most likely spend on abortion
and spend it instead on things like food or clothes, which also stimulate
the economy.  But let’s face it; Boehner’s entire strategy
here is to titillate people about the sexual habits of their lower income
neighbors, perhaps stoke some jealously, and definitely stoke some anger
that can be used to shut down the stimulus package. Instead, Obama is
begging House Democrats just to take birth control out of the bill,
because he wants it to pass without
a fight — even though the Congressional Budget Office has said that expanded
Medicaid spending will create jobs and save the government money in
the long run.   

But while 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. They’ve moved into the obstructionist zone, where every attempt by
Democrats to do anything positive has to be halted. And the reason
is that effective legislation passed by Democrats preserves Democratic
power.  If voters get improved health care access, for instance,
they will likely continue to vote for Democrats in order to keep it. 
What’s good for the people is bad for Republicans in this case, and
thus they’re choosing themselves over the public. 

It’s a sad commentary on
this country that Boehner’s strategy to kick up dust over this stimulus
package works.  While a solid part of the country gets that money
spent on Medicaid-based contraception goes directly to preventing unplanned
pregnancy and probably doesn’t effect the amount of boot-knocking
going on, unfortunately another solid group of Americans gets no further
than thinking, "Some poor people are doing it on my dime!", and
therefore immediately goes into the obstruct-and-punish zone. 
Racism absolutely inspires Boehner’s attempts.  The
mainstream media face of your average Medicaid recipient is a black
face, even though the majority of Medicaid recipients are white.   

Even by conservative standards,
which state that people receiving any kind of welfare should just get
a job and pay their own way, contraception coverage is fundamental. 
Women struggling with unplanned pregnancy face serious obstacles when
looking for work, even in a healthy economy.  Employers may not
formally discriminate, but one look at an expanding belly will usually
convince an employer to hire someone else they think won’t be taking
substantial time off in the future for maternity leave.  Many,
if not most, women looking for work in this situation will choose to terminate an unintended pregnancy instead.  What does this do for the economy?  Abortion takes at least two days, and probably more, that could
be spent working or looking for work.  

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.  Members of the public who fell for this stunt should also
be ashamed of themselves.  Right now, we’re seeing millions of
people losing their jobs on what seems to be an hourly basis. 
Not that there’s ever a good time to get bent out of shape because
your neighbors are doing it, but it’s especially silly and childish
to get into an anti-sex tizzy in a serious time like this.

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  • invalid-0

    …..Amanda Marcotte is 100 percent right and 0 percent wrong! The obsessive and childish attitude about sex, especially women’s sexuality, on the part of the cons is not really much different than the attitude behind the medieval practice of jus primae noctis when the lords insisted on having conjugal rights with their female feudal vassals on their wedding night (see http://www.snopes.com/weddings/customs/droit.asp). Young feudal women were merely political tools of these corrupt politicians who obviously had ownership of the women’s bodies.
    …..Today’s cons, with their medieval sense of superiority and entitlement, abuse religion and “morality” as the underpinnings for their incessant and bitter complaints about any money spent on poor people, especially poor women. And, like Ms. Marcotte reported, add color to the addends of “poor” and “women,” and the sum of all their fears is irrationally realized. Remember Reagan’s reference to “Welfare Queens”? And we all know how the cons love to instill fear into their shock troops.
    …..This constant harping is intended to stop funding contraception for poor women thereby preventing women from having real control over their own bodies. Oh no, that is the providence of the cons. Only the truly demented want those women to be punished with unwanted pregnancies for having sex.
    …..I do have hope. Many of these shock troops are facing difficult economic times themselves. (Please see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/norman-lears-patriotism-b_b_158918.html.) Just maybe they can empathize with poor women who are trying to avoid pregnancy. If they can overcome the strong focus on “women’s sins” taught by most conservative religions and instead focus on the “do unto others…” and “judge not..” morality taught in all religious traditions, they can help provide effective solutions to our country’s difficult problems, including reducing the number of abortions.
    …..If only we can understand that women are hardwired to control when and how often to become mothers. It’s really not as much a social issue as it is an economic issue, i.e., survival. As a culture we can help both women AND men to have strong, healthy families. This requires very independent thinking.

  • invalid-0

    Great blog. Bizarre that anyone anti-abortion would also oppose contraception. We have a few strange eccentrics like that here in the UK Parliament but they are mercifully few (i can only imagine they adhere secretly to the ideology Monte Python described as “every sperm is sacred…”). But the tragedy is that Obama seems willing to compromise with these extremists.

  • invalid-0

    I agree that this is a great blog.
    …..We have thousands of conservative evangelical/fundamentalist Christian programming available throughout the U.S. Having strong religious freedoms in this country has been both a blessing and a curse.
    …..Nobody can deny the public good Christians (and other religious folks) with a social justice mission–helping the poor, the sick, the orphaned, the imprissoned–have provided. However, many many more millions are spent on maintaining their grip on their narrowcasting outlets.
    …..No matter where you are in this country, you can find several conservative Christian stations on the radio and TV. Of course, this is matched only by right-wing secular talkers like Rush Limbaugh. If it were not for the internet and the few but very viable progressive voices on a few radio stations, I would go crazy. Thom Hartmann is my favorite talk show host. You can check him out on http://www.Thom Hartmann.com. He is a liberal Christian, but he doesn’t believe that ONLY the Judeo-Christian or even the western cannon of thought “invented” morality. He has a great understanding of evolution.
    …..Despite overwhelming support of Obama in the election, broadcast voices are overwhelmingly conservative. The owners of most of these stations WANT huge swaths of the American public to only hear right-wing voices. Nevertheless, the story on the right is that only conservative talk show hosts can compete in the marketplace and are “successful.” That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it. Never mind that early conservative talk shows were broadcast for free and given plenty of time to grow an audiance. The other story of the right is that liberal talk show syndicator, AirAmerica, is failing. AirAmerica had to compete like a business, has hit rough spots, and has spawed two very successful liberal talk show hosts: (1)Senator Al Frankin who recently beat incumbant senator, Republican Norm Coleman; and (2) Fabulous and “out” Rachel Maddow has the 9pm MSNBC cable tv spot that beat CNN’s Larry King in ratings. By the way, AirAmerica is still broadcasting.
    …..This terrible imbalance has a very negative effect on public policy. I think Obama’s higher moral ground of trying to appeal to conservatives is good in the short run. However, we’ve experienced horrible social and economic policy shifts to the right ever since Uncle Ronny Reagan entered the White House in 1981, so we need to shift again in order to bring us into balance. The cons deserve to sulk in the desert for a while if they continue to take an obstructionist posture.
    …..So, I only have one request: Can we export our Puritans and Victorians back to you guys? Pretty please with sugar on it?
    …..God/dess bless us all!

  • invalid-0

    They don’t care about “unborn children.” They care about punishing women for having nonprocreative sex.