Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's Raining Condoms

If you have followed the political debate on the new stimulation bill you know that Republican leader John Boehner (heh) expressed his party's dislike of the part of the stimulation bill that has to do with family planning money for women who are poor:

"How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives how does that stimulate the economy?" House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio said on Friday after congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House. "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."

How does building and repairing bridges affect the economy, John? The paths are not that different, because family planning includes stuff such as doctor visits (for which the doctor gets paid) and the purchase of products (for which the seller gets paid). In any case, avoiding unwanted pregnancies during bad economic times would seem to help with cutting back abortions and stress and such.

But of course the debate is not about any of that at all. It's about what the uninvolved (by luck of their gender, race and income) talk of as 'culture wars'. Digby quotes from some on the extreme right:

This contraceptive thing is turning into the first hissy fit of the New Year and back in pre-post-partisan times, I'm sure we'd be seeing condom denouncements in speeches on the senate floor within days. But now that we've declared the culture war over and reached common ground with the social conservatives on the issue of "reducing unwanted pregnancies," I'm sure we can count on our new conservative allies to step up now and defend government spending for contraceptives.

But they'd better hurry. Some of their friends don't seem to have gotten the memo:

Pelosi's Decision Bigoted, Racist, Elitist and Anti-Child says Christian Defense Coalition
WASHINGTON, January 26 /Christian Newswire/ --

Christian Defense Coalition calls Speaker Pelosi's decision to add contraceptives to the economic stimulus package bigoted, racist, elitist and anti-child.

It is unthinkable that the Speaker of House would try to stimulate the economy by seeking to reduce the number of children.

Our political leaders should do all within their power to protect, support and encourage America's children, not crush and destroy them.

See how contraception (not abortion but contraception) is now something that destroys and crushes America's children? It's always interesting when the real Christian Coalition rises up and speaks, though it does leave me nauseous, because the one group they never care about at all is women. Their idea is that it's good not to let women have any control over their bodies so that those can be used to produce the maximum number of children. Never mind if the children are planned or not.

Digby also tells us this:

Update: Chris Matthews just said that this federal contraceptive money sounds like China's policy to limit the number of children and has no place in an economic package.

Just shoot me now.

Indeed. They can shoot me, too. Now offering contraceptives equals forcing them on the women whether they want that or not. So it goes, I guess.

In any case, the outcome of all this is that the stimulation bill will probably not include cheaper contraception for poor women:

Several Democrats said Monday night that Obama had spoken personally with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., about removing the provision. Waxman is chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over Medicaid and a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The Democrats who described the likely reversal did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to disclose developments not yet made public.

So it goes.
Added later: Lindsay puts all this into a greater context.