Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2009

LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT.... The right howls, the media blares, Democrats decide it's not worth the bother. As Atrios noted, it's as "predictable as the rising sun."

House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.

Several officials said a final decision was expected on Tuesday, coinciding with Obama's scheduled visit to the Capitol for separate meetings with House and Senate Republicans.

The provision has emerged as a point of contention among Republicans, who criticize it as an example of wasteful spending that would neither create jobs nor otherwise improve the economy.

Under the provision, states no longer would be required to obtain federal permission to offer family planning services -- including contraceptives -- under Medicaid, the health program for the low-income.

I can appreciate the political dynamic here. The Obama White House wants to get at least some bipartisan support for an economic stimulus package, and GOP lawmakers, Fox News, right-wing blogs and talk-radio, and even media figures like Chris Matthews and Jack Cafferty, are telling Americans the policy proposal is right out of the Little Red Book. It's become a distraction, so it's understandable that Democratic leaders prefer to just make the irritation go away.

But it's nevertheless frustrating. The public actually supports family-planning programs; states have been screwed over on this for years; it's an easy and straightforward approach to preventative, cost-saving healthcare; and as it turns out, it's actually a pretty good stimulus.

By scrapping a good idea, it only reinforces the notion that Republican hissy fits will continue to dictate governing decisions, even when -- especially when -- the minority party is wrong.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (84)

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Comments

This is exactly what I feared==unnecessary Dem capitulations. I am very disappointed that Obama participated. I expected him to have a better understanding of politics than to encourage R childishness this way.

Posted by: wonkie on January 27, 2009 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Bipartisanship works when the other party isn't devoted to the destruction of the United States. Until the Republican Party decides not to be treasonous, they should be ignored, trampled, and marginalized.

There is no such thing as a patriotic Republican.

Posted by: Mike on January 27, 2009 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

They will stick that provision in the omnibus appropriations bill that is going to come up in the House right after the stimulus bill passes. All this is doing is taking away a momentary talking point. A tactical retreat, not a concession.

Posted by: Steven J Berke on January 27, 2009 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

If ever there was a time the Dems could just say 'Eff you, Repubs', it would be right now. How odd. How disappointing.

Posted by: henry lewis on January 27, 2009 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds ($200 million)

Meanwhile Mitch McConnell was on the Today Show saying he expects the Dems to accept another 70 billion to provide relief to people subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax. There is something truly unholy about these people.

Posted by: Danp on January 27, 2009 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Steven is correct. Remove this in return for support and put it in an upcoming bills. The conservatives appreciate a chance to look good, the bill gets passed and family planning gets passed in another bill. A good move.

Posted by: Milt on January 27, 2009 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

I dearly hope everyone is right about this being another rope-a-dope exercise by Obama to gull the repugs.

However, if even the most popular Democratic president in 70 years can't stand up to an eviscerated GOP and say "you're wrong, people hate you, sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up," then nobody can.

And we're doomed.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 27, 2009 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

It's a trick. They're going to convince them the outrage machine is still in charge and let them run it over a cliff later this year.

Posted by: Ferd on January 27, 2009 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

In the end, the cowardly Democrats are just going to let the GOP write the stimulus bill. You know they will. Not a backbone between them all, and that pretty much much is starting to apply to Obama as well.

Posted by: gttim on January 27, 2009 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK
The Obama White House wants to get at least some bipartisan support for an economic stimulus package
Well I for one DON'T appreciate that. Why are the assholes who screwed up the country in the first place being given any say at all? They should be told in no uncertain terms to sit down and STFU.

In practice, "bipartisanship" means we get conservative Republican policies when Republicans are in power, and- at best- moderate Republican policies when Democrats are in power. If this shell game continues in the Obama administration, a lot of people who cast Democratic votes last November won't bother to show up next time- why should they?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

this is astonishing.

the same people who oppose children's health insurance oppose funding for family planning.

democratic "leadership" has to go, bottom line.

Posted by: karen marie on January 27, 2009 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

ARGH! Why are contraceptives controversial? The vast majority of the public actually use them! Way to roll over for the crazy right. The more time the religious conservative nuts spend complaining about this, the worse they look to voters.

Posted by: Safron on January 27, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,

What part of the concept of priority don't you get? If the programs in question are as popular as you say, they shoud be passable on their own, separate from an economic bill with completely different justification and purpose.

The practice of loading every important bill with a bunch of unrelated programs is fundamentally at odds with good governance.

Posted by: capitalistimperialistpig on January 27, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Government is a tug-0f-war.

The Demoncrats thought they had enough muscle to pull their
stimulus this way.

The Repugnacans greased the rope (with the saliva from their hissy fit), causing considerable slippage.

And so it goes.


Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 27, 2009 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

capitalistimperialistpig,

What part of "it's actually a pretty good stimulus" don't you get?

Posted by: Safron on January 27, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

It's not a hissy fit, it never is. It's a strategy, one that conforms to the overall evergreen narrative: tax & spend Democrats who are going to take your money and give it to those people. Aside from simply opposing every single Obama policy, no matter how much reaching across the aisle, their purpose is to pick one part to represent the whole and make it entirely suspect, and resonate with the all the basest accusations they've cultivated for 50 years or so. Appeasing them only reinforces their strategy.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on January 27, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

And remember, you only need one Republican vote to make it bipartisan. Why try to get them all.

Posted by: gttim on January 27, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

oh come on, chill people

you're making it out to be that Obama has sold his soul to the devil

it's not like this appropriation can't be done at a later time (like a day after the stimulus package passes). It'll happen. Absolutely.

a lot of politics IS optics. You know that.

Posted by: sjw on January 27, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I thought this was one of those planted red herrings to give the right something to whine about that Obama could swoop in and be all bipartisan over. Like giving the censors obvious extra material you don't really care about that they can take out and feel good about themselves for.

Posted by: grinning cat on January 27, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK
What part of the concept of priority don't you get?
What part of "the Democrats should be able to enact THEIR policies when THEY are in power" do YOU not get? The Republicans never fall for this kind of BS when they're in power. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

"The Obama White House wants to get at least some bipartisan support for an economic stimulus package . . ."

Why?

Posted by: Jose Padilla on January 27, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

sjw:
I think Obama is going to be a fantastic president, I'm not going to let quibbles I have with him spoil my impression of the overall vastly better situation we are in now than we were a week ago.
The problem is these are optics worth fighting for! I don't understand why Dems can't fight for stuff that is good and popular.
The right pretends this is about socialism, it just needs Dems to actually stand up and jeer at that. The ENTIRE BILL is *government paying for stuff.* This is only a problem when it is icky icky family planning that the wacko Republican base hates.

Posted by: Safron on January 27, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

It's the economy, stupid.
If Obama can fix it, he can get most any legislation passed, and put a golden statue of himself on the Mall as well, and the only clamor from the GOP will be to have their picture taken with him.
Try to understand the difference between a battle and a war, people.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK
Try to understand the difference between a battle and a war, people.
No, YOU try to understand that the Republicans want Obama, and the economy, to fail and that all their "input" into the stimulus has that goal in mind. The only politically non-suicidal course is to ignore their bullshit and roll over them. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

I've got to say that, while I'm a bit disappointed with this, this isn't the end of the world. Republicans were going to use this as an excuse to attack the bill, so perhaps it made more sense to toss it. It is to be remembered that avoiding controversy was a key strategy of Obama's campaign and is likely to continue. You fight what you must but don't get side-lined into stupid fights that you hadn't planned to make in the first place.

Whether or not we would have "won" the fight, Republicans were happy to give us one. They wanted us to defend contraception instead of the stimulus. And in that regards, tossing it aside for now was for the best. Just as long as we eventually get back to it.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 27, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK
I've got to say that, while I'm a bit disappointed with this, this isn't the end of the world.
Of course not. But what it is, is a symptom of a much more serious problem- a deeply flawed political approach that sanctifies bullshit "bipartisanship", and that could easily end up KOing the stimulus, along with much else that Obama promised during the campaign. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

The only politically non-suicidal course is to ignore their bullshit and roll over them.

History has shown that to be the wrong course of action. They WANT to be ignored. They WANT to be victims. And they WANT Obama to act like a strong liberal who doesn't give a shit about bi-partisanship or playing nice. In other words, they want him to act just like they do. And by doing so, they expect us to get the same results that they got: Lots of angry opposition and bad feelings.

They don't give a shit about the stimulus bill or contraception. They just want a stupid fight about stupid stuff. And by trying to roll over them, we're giving them exactly what they want. This is the kind of thing Obama wisely avoided during the election, and while it's more fun to see your guy trounce all over the opposition, it rarely works in the long run. Conservatives used your strategy and imagined they were creating a political dynasty. Instead, they saw the whole thing blow up in their face and still can't figure out who put the gun powder in the cigar (they did).

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 27, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Try to understand the difference between a battle and a war, people.

Posted by: Steve Paradis

I do understand that. But I hate to see a perfectly good opportunity to pwn the GOP - with their own base - go to waste.

All it would take would be a statement to the effect that "Contraception is a part of health care. People who can't afford contraception can't afford children either, and we can better afford to help them avoid having children they don't want in these tough economic times than we can afford to support those children. The Republicans' plan to withhold family planning aid to those who can't afford it is guaranteed to increase public assisstance rolls at a time when the government is already facing huge economic challenges. A vote against family planning aid is a vote for more families on welfare."

Seems to me that ought to do it for even most of the crazy base, who hate welfare even more than they love forcing people to have unwanted children. Not to mention that keeping the outrage alive a bit longer just gives that many more people the opportunity to hear about it and think, "these nuts now want to stop people from using birth control, too?"

I hope you're right, Steve, because I'd hate to see an opportunity this good get squandered.

Posted by: Jennifer on January 27, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK
They just want a stupid fight about stupid stuff. And by trying to roll over them, we're giving them exactly what they want.
Braindead, just utterly braindead. Have you learned nothing over the years? The Republicans, when they're in power, act EXACTLY as I want the Democrats to do now. As a result, they get their way on pretty much everything, whereas when we're in power we can't even manage to completely reverse the damage they cause, let alone do anything actually progressive. "Thinking" like yours IS THE PROBLEM. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is a STIMULUS bill, not a bill to argue about your pet family planning project. The country is on the precipice, and you want to spend your time and effort arguing about a sum of dollars that is 1/500th or less of the total bill but guaranteed to mobilize the right base and devolve the process into the standard mud slinging that got Pelosi's congress its stellar less than 20% approval rating already?

The Republicans, when they're in power, act EXACTLY as I want the Democrats to do now.
Posted by: Steve LaBonne

It's amusing that you use the behavior of those you purportedly hate as a pattern for your own actions.

The practice of loading every important bill with a bunch of unrelated programs is fundamentally at odds with good governance.
Posted by: capitalistimperialistpig

You and Steve Paradis and grinning cat get it.

Posted by: red state mike on January 27, 2009 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans, when they're in power, act EXACTLY as I want the Democrats to do now. As a result, they get their way on pretty much everything....

You are SOOOO right, LaBonne, and it's worked wonders for them. They have skyrocketing popularity, large majorities in Congress (which keep increasing every election), and damn if we can't keep them out of the Whitehouse. Brilliant plan. Let's do that. If only Obama could leave office with approval numbers like Bush's. That's a BRILLIANT strategy.

Seriously though, has it not occurred to you that perhaps the reason they're so hated is largely because of the "ignore them" strategy? Beyond that, you really haven't explained this theory of yours beyond some sort of "If we give in now, we give in for everything." Yet, how does that work? We just denied them a weapon from their arsenal. They wanted to fight about contraception instead of the stimulus, and you wanted to give them that fight. And yeah, maybe we'd have won that fight. But as I said, Obama's strategy has always been to only wage the fights he was planning to wage, and to avoid unplanned fights as much as possible. And it worked. It was a brilliant strategy. Rather than the Clinton-model of "I'll fight any battle you bring to me," Obama is only fighting the battles of his choosing. You may think this is "braindead" but I think it's far more intelligent.

Again, I know "fight fight fight" is more fun. But the Republicans have proven it to be a losing strategy in the long run. Sure, the Republicans had short-lived success from it. And now their party is in ruins because of it. Ignoring your opponents does not make them go away. And in this case, you're wanting to give them exactly what they want. They don't care about the stimulus, or birth control. They want a fight. Giving them a cause to rally around is a mistake.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 27, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK
You are SOOOO right, LaBonne, and it's worked wonders for them.
It ill becomes you to try to be sarcastic when you say something this mind-bogglingly stupid. Evidently you've been living in a cave for a very long time, but the Republicans had the upper hand pretty much all the time, even when they didn't hold the White House, from 1994 through 2008. That's a hell of a good run. And if the Democrats are as feckless as always, the Republicans will be back a lot sooner than you think. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

You're right, family planning funds for states is important.

Among other things, one of the articles this week estimated it would save the states over $400 million (presumably for pre- and post-natal care that would otherwise be needed and which is covered under current law).

But getting a stimulus bill passed is also important. Preferably with as much bi-partisan support as possible without compromising on the bigger ticket items.

So drop this provision for now, but re-insert it into every budget bill and appropriate appropriations bill that comes up until it passes.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 27, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Minor observations:

1. Jennifer needs a job with the administration or the Senate majority. Hire her ass.

2. I want to play poker with Steve LaBonne.

Posted by: shortstop on January 27, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

You're on as long as you promise to use the Democratic strategy of bluffing yourself rather than the opposition. ;)

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Gut reaction : Disgusting.

Considered reflection : Good move.

Residual fear : We're doomed.

Posted by: Goldilocks on January 27, 2009 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Who in the White House believes President Obama only won with 35 percent of the vote, instead of 53 percent?

Posted by: berttheclock on January 27, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

but the Republicans had the upper hand pretty much all the time, even when they didn't hold the White House, from 1994 through 2008.

First off, one of the chief reasons the Republicans had the upperhand throughout the 90's was because Clinton played the exact game you want Obama to play. He didn't bend over for Republicans, but fought them all the time. Unfortunately, his version of "fighting" involved stealing large chunks of their platform in order to deny them their fight. He never backed down from a fight and usually "won". Unfortunately, they weren't really wins we could be proud of.

Secondly, their dominance since 2001 can be almost entirely attributed to one thing: 9/11. Their strongarm tactics didn't help them win elections, but rather the opposite. And had people not been so freaked out after 9/11, it's almost impossible that Bush would have won re-election or that they would have seen much success at all. Bush was dead in the water until people rallied around him. And even then, he blew what he was given and will go down in history as an utter disgrace.

Thirdly, how did they have the upperhand since 2006? Because they prevented us from achieving our agenda? Obstructionism isn't the same as control. We didn't achieve our agenda, but they didn't either. And the main point is clear: Their strategy backfired. It's a proven failure and they are all disgraced. Yet you look to them as role models?

Again, if you could explain your strategy beyond "We need to play defense against every attack they wage on us" I'll listen. But you have given no strategy. It's just "Fight Fight Fight". And the Republicans have proven that to be a losing hand. As it is, Republicans have "won" a nothing battle that most folks won't even have heard of, and now they're back to having nothing to talk about. They picked this fight because it was the strongest thing they had. Now they're back to attacking a popular stimulus bill, rather than the birth control fight they wanted.

And again, playing tough defense isn't the same as playing offense. We need offense. And at the end of it all, I'm fairly sure we'll get our contraceptive funds passed and the Republicans will still be unpopular. Sorry, but this just wasn't a smart fight.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 27, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Come on folks. This is simply tactics. This provision is not--I repeat, NOT--the primary purpose of the stimulus bill. I would not be surprised if it was placed in there knowing it would likely get flagged by Republicans, just so the Democrats (especially Obama) could have a bipartisan moment AND the Republicans could have a minor "victory." Optics...that's all this was.

Besides, as stated earlier, this provision will likely end up in the omnibus bill coming very soon.

Posted by: independent thnker on January 27, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

He didn't bend over for Republicans, but fought them all the time.What color is the sky on your planet? Remember "triangulation"? Evidently not.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, I like the way you think Dr. Biobrain ;-)

Posted by: independent thinker on January 27, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK


Boy, do I hope you're right.

I'm getting SICK of the lack of spine, all in the name of "bipartisanship."

Posted by: ..... on January 27, 2009 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I guess that, if this was strategy all along, and the Democrats put this in there only to withdrawal it and give the appearance of negotiation and compromise, it would have been nice if any of them had pretended to care and fought for it.

As is, I think the thing that worries me most, is that this seems like all of the other times the Democrats have backed down: quickly and quietly.

I am, however, not surprised. Hopefully it'll be for the best.

Posted by: doubtful on January 27, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

He didn't bend over for Republicans, but fought them all the time.What color is the sky on your planet? Remember "triangulation"? Evidently not.

LaBonne, did you even read what I wrote? I described triangulation. Triangulation was his technique for fighting. That's how he "won." And note, I always put "won" in quotes, because you don't really win if you're essentially giving your opponent what they want. But he did fight. He fought them on everything. Every battle they placed in front of him, he fought. Hillary did the exact same thing in the primaries, which is one big reason why we're talking about President Obama right now, rather than Hillary or McCain. Because Obama knows how to pick his battles and neither of them did.

Sorry, but fighting every battle on your enemies terms is not good strategy. Remember, you're complaining because Obama won't play defense. Republicans didn't want Obama to capitulate. They wanted him to defend contraceptive funding. We denied that to them. Now they're back to having nothing to talk about. We might have lost this particular battle (which none of us even knew about until the Republicans created it), but this isn't a set-back in the overall war. We don't have to fight every battle.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 27, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

^^
Grrrr, I posted a quote from Milt (that got eaten) saying that Steve is correct, the cons get to look good, the bill gets passed, this is a good move for now, and family planning gets passed later...

THAT's who I hope is right.

Posted by: .... on January 27, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK
Triangulation was his technique for fighting
There's no arguing with somebody as pathologically delusional as you. Triangulation was his technique for saving Bill Clinton's sorry ass, Democratic Party and Democratic values be damned. Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 27, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike wrote: The country is on the precipice

Given that the party and policies you've vocally, if ineffectually, supported here got us to this precipice, you'll excuse us if we dismiss your commentary for its typical wrongheadedness.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on January 27, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Good words Dr. Biobrain. For the record, I agree with your reasoning. My first reaction was one of practicality, which in many ways describes my image of Obama's approach.

And Steve, though I understand that it is pretty difficult to talk of the those whacky righties (Drudge, Rush, Hannity) without including name calling (stupid fucked up weeners), jumping into an argument with someone on seemingly the same side with name calling (Braindead?) is pretty silly and diminishes your point. It looks instead like careful consideration versus exclamation points.

I agree that the Dems have a history of spinelessness. But Dr. Bio above makes some very salient points about a pragmatic approach to getting things done.

Right now, we have to get shit done. Period. Giving an inch now does not mean we have to give a mile later. As I go to work shortly to calculate how manys days my company has left, or who I get to lay off next, that resonates quite loudly.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on January 27, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but fighting every battle on your enemies terms is not good strategy. Remember, you're complaining because Obama won't play defense. Republicans didn't want Obama to capitulate.
Posted by: Doctor Biobrain

I thought that was Pelosi's doings, not Obama's.

Triangulation was his technique for fighting. That's how he "won."

That's how he governed from the center, which satisfied most of the citizens of the US of A.

Democratic Party and Democratic values be damned.

It's supposed to be American values first.

Posted by: red state mike on January 27, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's deceptive to describe money for family planning programs as popular, because it doesn't recognize that most of the people for it are only mildly for it, while most of the folks against it are wildly in opposition.

Dems seems to make this mistake a lot.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 27, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Something to consider: Had this bill never had contraceptive funding in it, would any liberal complain about it? No. Because this isn't about the need for contraceptive funding in stimulus bills. This is about fighting back against Republicans because they attacked us. And I don't see how that's a fight worth having.

Republicans only exist if we fight them. That's not to say that we should always back down, but merely that we should pick our fights wisely. Defense isn't a strategy.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 27, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"That's how he governed from the center, which satisfied most of the citizens of the US of A."

And what did the country get from Clinton's governance? Some good stuff to be sure, but the two lasting legacies were throwing away the best chance at health care reform in 20 years and a balanced budget which was immediately tossed on the trash heap by the Bushies. Oh, and NAFTA.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 27, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

There's no arguing with somebody as pathologically delusional as you. Triangulation was his technique for saving Bill Clinton's sorry ass, Democratic Party and Democratic values be damned.

Labonne, what are you talking about? I agree with everything you just wrote and it's essentially what I was saying. I agree that it wasn't winning. I was saying this ten years ago when he was doing it. But all the same, Clinton never backed down from a fight and "won" almost every battle he faced. But all the same, we lost. I agree that triangulation was a stupid strategy for fighting, but all the same, it WAS a strategy for fighting.

And this is all a totally side note to the fact that you're upset that we're not playing defense on an issue that didn't exist until Republicans decided to create it. You're not upset about contraceptive funding. You're upset that we're not playing defense. And as I said before, defense is not a strategy.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on January 27, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

NAFTA, ah, yes, ye olde GHWB's plan.

RepuG family planning methods did not seem to work in Utah - Aspirin sales did not increase.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 27, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

This might be a worthwhile political objective but including it in a bill that is supposed to be about ending the economic Tsunami that is occurring is politically stupid. This provision needs to be in another bill. All other side-issue provisions need to removed also so that we don't hand the opposition an easy (if stupid) rallying point.

Posted by: wyomingdem on January 27, 2009 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

The ultimate priority is to get a stimulus bill passed. If putting in family planning funds, then withdrawing them is enough to distract Republicans long enough to outmaneuver them, then this could be a strategically wise decision. It's like how movie directors used to put in scenes that they knew the censors would cut (but the director secretly didn't want), so that they could "negotiate" and keep the scenes they did want.

Posted by: jonp72 on January 27, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Also, as I said earlier: Boehner-head is wrong! Actually, spending on contraceptives does help
the economy, and saves taxpayers money on average. To add to the Mother Jones take: Short-term, it reduces the revenue loss from deductions and child tax credits, and releases money (net even after loss of credits) and productive time to parents or would-be parents. Long-term, it reduces demand on basic
resources (like oil, copper, etc.) and reduces the cost and pressure for alternatives to the rest of us. BTW there is no legitimate advantage of any kind, social, economic, etc; to population growth once density like ours has been reached.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on January 27, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Republican dogma

Healthcare for children? No!

Funding for family planning? Hell no!

Payroll tax cuts for working poor? Hell fucking no!

Tax cuts for corporations and banks so they can buy four thousand dollar wastebaskets and 50 million dollar corporate jets? What's the problem?

Posted by: Winkandanod on January 27, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

This is going to be an angrier comment than you usually see from me, partially because a number of my 'pain problems' are kicking up, but mostly because I am angry. Another day I might be 'gentler' but I'd say the same.

Some of you, most noticeably Doc Biobrain, 'get it.' The rest of you... (shrugs and shakes head.)

Some of you caugght on that this might be the "Gold strategy" -- named not after the medal, but after the SF editor H.L. Gold. Horace was a great editor, but also a compulsive meddler. He wouldn't accept any story unless he found a way to 'improve' it. So writers caught on that the way to sell to Horace was to put in something you knew he would 'catch' and order changed. He was happy, you enjoyed the check, and the result was the second great SF Magazine, Galaxy.

This bill will pass, just not as part of the stimulus package.

But to those who say "Let's treat Republicans the way they treated us" I have only one thing to say. You are idiots.

This was bad governance, bad politics, and ethically bad when Republicans did it. And it would be no different if we did it.

And, as a matter of fact, most Republicans are perfectly sincere in their insistence that their policies are good for the country, and have no Limbaughish desire to 'bring down Obama even if it brings down the country.' (There are some poseurs, sure, who can't see beyond their own election and 'have no principles, not even bad ones' like their recent Presidential Candidate, but even he, I believe, does love our country. And, btw, we have a few of those on our side too.)

I said 'sincere,' not 'right.' They are very usually wrong, frequently extremely stupid, and far too often have the (religious) mindset that "if the evidence goes against what I know to be THE TRUTH that just means the evidence is wrong." But I expect that most of them, even the real crazies, believe the nonsense they are spouting.

Which doesn't mean to cater to them, or to the constituents who share their errors. But we are in a crisis, one which may have a few factors that will make it worse than 1929 -- a follow-up post on that. And FDR came in after the Republicans had had three years to prove their incompetence -- and therefore had the room to try his own solutions. The country would give him time because they had seen that the Republicans had no solutions. (And how many medium-to-low information voters have, or need to have, an understanding that Republican policies -- aided a little by some Clintonian ones -- created this mess. They are interested in solutions, not blame.)

This crisis hit four months ago, and Obama was elected to fix it, but people are less patient. And it is going to take time, not just to turn things around, but even to stop the slide.

If Obama 'plays Republican' and rams things through over the heads of the opposition, and things don't make a miraculous turn-around in 18 months -- before campaigning for 2010 begins in earnest, every Republican will say "See, you gave him a chance and he failed. Time to return to 'safe,sane, conservative' Republican principles." (Idiotic? Sure, but when has that stopped them.)

But if he gets Republicans to 'sign off' on his ideas (I emphasize 'his ideas' because I don't want or expect to see a return to 'triangulation.' His history is that 'bipartisan' means 'hold fast to your principles, but give Republicans reasons to join you.') it lessens the chance of them making that argument -- though the senior Senator from Arizona will try anyway.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on January 27, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

You have been warned to avoid social issues and now you see why.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on January 27, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

You have been warned to avoid social issues and now you see why.

What a strange little comment. Who is "you"? And who has been doing the "warning"?

Posted by: shortstop on January 27, 2009 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

The dishonesty and con job is reprehensible. We haven't even gotten over Bush using WMD fear to get his neocon agenda moving, and now the Democrats are using economic fear to pass lib legislation unrelated to stimulus. Fooled once, shame on Bush; fooled twice, shame on Pelosi/Obama.

Posted by: Luther on January 27, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

We haven't even gotten over Bush using WMD fear to get his neocon agenda moving, and now the Democrats are using economic fear to pass lib legislation unrelated to stimulus.

As already pointed out to you, you dishonest schmuck, Iraq's WMD threat didn't exist; the recession and the threats posed to the nation's economy do.

It isn't dishonest to warn of an actual threat. Next time you post, how about some evidence for your assertion -- say, at least that recent Republican Web page saying how rosy the economy is?

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on January 27, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Purp***I think that the Boehner is that they love their version of "our country"...not our actual country but only their version of it. They ignore the rest of it and when they see what they disagree with they say that is not Ameirca and start talking about "real America" and "real Americans" Anything that does not fit into their view is not America.

"...But to those who say "Let's treat Republicans the way they treated us" I have only one thing to say. You are idiots.

This was bad governance, bad politics, and ethically bad when Republicans did it. And it would be no different if we did it.,,,"-Purp.

What is being said is not allowing them to continue to treat us and the American people this way. Dems did not obstruct all legislation but nor should they cater to those who did. They exclude themselves. They demand their own way and claim mistreatment and partisanship when dems don't go along.

No matter how much you say some of them don't act that way they vote almost in lockstep with those who do. What most of us are saying is stop feeling like you have to cater to them or succumb to their emotional and political blackmail. The hand that was offered was slapped away and just like the Blair House snub it is not the dems who need to change except to be more defensive and, like the frog, know they are scorpions before you put them on your back and carry them across the isle. The stakes are too high to keep allowing these obstructionists to block progress for political gain.

Posted by: bjobotts on January 27, 2009 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

"You are SOOOO right, LaBonne, and it's worked wonders for them."

The last time I checked, they are out of power not because of their tactics but because of their policies, which have been absolutely disastrous.

Posted by: PaulB on January 27, 2009 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

"states no longer would be required to obtain federal permission to offer family planning services -- including contraceptives -- under Medicaid"

I think this is the point that many people are missing. To me it seems like the states are already allowed to spend the money on family planning services. All they have to do is ask the federal government for permission. Under the Bush regime, there is no way they would get that permission. Now I wouldn't be surprised that a blanket permission is issued after the stimulus bill passes.

So you have the same effect, but it looks as if you are trying to compromise. This is why judo works, they push and you pull and they land on their backs looking bewildered. It is a lot more effective than being a chest thumper. The question is which you want, the appearance of fighting for a position or actually getting it with a minimum of fuss.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on January 28, 2009 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

I know that it's normal for these bills to contain a bunch of unrelated items, but I don't think that's good for transparency. So, even if I agree with Dems that this provision is a good thing, I'm not convinced by Kevin Drum's statement that this "probably is pretty good" stimulus. I'd prefer to see statistics about the companies that provide contraceptives, whether they actually are American, their revenues from contraceptives... Unless this provision really can be defended as a stimulus provision, I'd prefer it be passed in a separate bill that focused on health and reducing long term medicaid costs.

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