The GOP wants to paint itself as fiscally conservative. In the face of all evidence to the contrary (i.e. George W. Bush skyrocketing the size of government and the unpaid tax cuts bearing his name being championed by his party), they want to pretend they're the "grownups" on budgetary matters. Yes, conservatives are prudent and sound when it comes to spending.
And jobs? They're mono-minded and singularly focused... according to their tweets.
Then naturally this means the majority of their time in session is spent on - abortion. Yes, they want to make abortion illegal, but they stand a better chance of just making it prohibitively expensive. And when anything is intentionally made to be too expensive to access - it makes being poor punitive.
The 112th Congress, at least the House, has used its fiscally conservative "mandate" to stick it to the marginalized. How focused are they on jobs? They've introduced a total of 18 bills so far, according to a simple Library of Congress search, dealing with abortion.
Eighteen bills just to make sure people who can't afford children are also unable to afford family planning.
And yes, defunding Planned Parenthood specifically is a goal. Planned Parenthood was recently the target of Live Action, a group claiming they're against sex trafficking, so they set up a sting of a health care provider. Which is like being against kidnapping so you aim to discredit van sellers. Their real goal is to "ACORN" the health centers so they will no longer provide health care to those in need.
The smear campaign has bordered on the ridiculous. One published letter to the editor in the Ventura County (Calif.) Star claimed, "Planned Parenthood makes billions of dollars every year on abortions... and pays absolutely no taxes." They can either profit from being a low-cost clinic or be a nonprofit. Not both. It's also been oft repeated by detractors, Planned Parenthood is given a whopping $362 million a year by the government.
Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization. Its IRS forms are available online. In 2008 its entire operating budget was $105 million - $30 million from grants.
Its finances are impressive; overhead low, services high. It operates hundreds of health centers around the country providing millions of Americans with cancer screenings, HIV testing and other health services. And yes, in some cases, abortions. Abortion is still legal. Why? Because the Supreme Court ruled there's a right to privacy in the Constitution (you know that document the GOP talks about almost as much as they do jobs). Roe v. Wade means someone else's abortion is none of your business... unless you're the 112th Congress and then it's the only thing you present to committees.
What Planned Parenthood really does is keep poor people out of emergency rooms. The clinics treat people with or without insurance for ranges of health issues. Yes, low-cost community clinics save taxpayers' money. Lots.
"Funding family planning saves the government over $3 for every $1 spent on health care and welfare programs," Gloria Feldt, author and former President of Planned Parenthood wrote me. "So eliminating family planning programs is the least conservative, most fiscally irresponsible thing they could do."
But why can't we have clinics to save money but don't offer abortions?
Clean, safe and legal abortions, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, cost taxpayers nothing. Botched illegal ones, however, are pricey.
So cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, as H.R. 217, the "Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act" wants to do, will end up costing more money than it cuts from the budget. Title X Family Planning already specifies its $317 million in funds can't be used if the birth control is abortion. The money is currently going to low-income patient's cancer screenings, STD treatment and birth control. H.R. 217 wants to cut funds to any facility providing an abortion anywhere on the premises. Which means Planned Parenthood would lose some of its funding. Other clinics and their communities would lose much more.
If something moves out of the light, it by definition has to go into the shadows and in the case of clinic care - to the E.R.
Which raises the question: does being a fiscal conservative still mean being conservative fiscally? If it does, then those who claim the title should be happy with the cost efficiency of Planned Parenthood. They should support the organization absolutely. That's if they really mean what they say.
Tina Dupuy is a columnist and fill-in host at The Young Turks. Shecan be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.