Democrats thought they could sneak subsidies for Planned Parenthood into the stimulus package, and why not? After all, in a bill that will cost $825 billion, who’d notice? Unfortunately for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, George Stephanopolous did. After failing to explain how hundreds of millions of dollars in new contraception funding would stimulate anything except libidos and Democrats, Pelosi will reluctantly remove the provisions from the stimulus bill this morning:
Democratic leaders in the House are nearly certain to drop federal funding for new contraceptive services and on-going programs to stop sexually transmitted diseases from the $825 billion economic stimulus bill due to hit the floor Tuesday, a senior official told FOX News.
The decision is due Tuesday morning in advance of two high-profile meetings President Obama will hold with House and Senate Republicans to build bipartisan support for his massive economic stimulus bill. The bill contains $87 billion in emergency Medicaid funding to help states crushed by deficits. …
Despite Pelosi’s argument, Democrats and the Obama White House appear eager to deprive Republicans of what’s become a key attack line against the stimulus bill.
Democrats claimed that they merely wanted to follow the advice of a 2007 CBO study that predicted a $200 million savings in Medicaid birth costs if the federal government provided free contraception to eligible participants. That may be an issue worthy of debate — but not as part of an emergency stimulus plan for an economic crisis. The point of such a stimulus should be to inject capital back into markets for job creation, not the absorption of every pet issue from the governing party in Congress.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what this stimulus bill has become. It’s the ultimate in Congressional pork. In this case, Reid and Pelosi wanted to toss hundreds of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, an important contributor to Democratic candidates and the party. It has nothing to do with economic stimulus; it has everything to do with political stimulus.
Barack Obama hinted strongly yesterday that he didn’t need this distraction when trying to sell this humungous pork bill on Capitol Hill. He’s right. Perhaps at the same time, Congress can start removing anything else not related to immediate economic stimulation and start exercizing a little fiscal discipline.