Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 7, 2011

WOULD BOEHNER SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT OVER PLANNED PARENTHOOD?.... The good news is, Democrats and Republicans have reportedly reached a general agreement on the size of the cuts for the rest of the fiscal year. As of this morning, the package is up to $34.5 billion, from $33 billion, and now reportedly includes some additional reductions in military spending.

The bad news, Republicans still want to use the budget to wage a culture war, and tomorrow night, will shut down the government to advance this agenda.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in the Senate, said Thursday morning that he is "not nearly as optimistic" about avoiding a shutdown as he was after a Wednesday night Oval Office meeting and said "it looks like it's headed in that direction."

Mr. Reid said that Republicans have "drawn a line in the sand" on issues of abortion funding and changes to the clean air act, and he said those issues could not be resolved in the hours left before a government shutdown.

"The numbers are basically there. But I am not as nearly as optimistic, and that's an understatement, as I was eleven hours ago," Mr. Reid said on the floor of the Senate. "The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology."

In case this isn't already clear, we're dealing with obvious madness. Republicans want to cut off Planned Parenthood and gut the Clean Air Act, but instead of pursuing legislation to achieve their goals, they're insisting that this be part of the budget. Democrats can't go along with this nonsense, and John Boehner is too weak a Speaker to tell his caucus to act like grown-ups, so the entire process is unraveling.

This has led to talk about the GOP shutting down the government over abortion, but even that's not quite right -- Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using public funds to terminate pregnancies, and has been for many years. What we're talking about here is Republicans shutting down the government over access to contraception and family planning services.

This is the basis for the GOP hostage strategy.

President Obama will host his third budget talks in as many days in two hours, summoning Boehner and Reid to the Oval Office. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 11:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

Won't cutting contraception funding lead to more abortions? Won't cutting the clean air act lead to more Medicare expenditures to deal with health problems?

Posted by: MuddyLee on April 7, 2011 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

The deal has probably been struck. After a day or two of blog posts and breathless reporting on Planned Parenthood Boehner will cave on Planned Parenthood and the Koch brothers will get the gutting of the Clean Air Act. That is what they are really fighting for.

America would be better off losing Planned Parenthood and saving the Clean Air Act. We can always reconstitute Planned Parenthood under a different brand, but we losing the Clean Air Act threatens our future.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 7, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, you know, the only thing infinitely f*cking stupider than shutting the government down over a few billion dollars, is this.

Oh, if only our MSM knew!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 7, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Hope President Reasonableness is learning something from this about the likely result of trying to negotiate in good faith with these assholes. It is going to be the same story on raising the debt limit, with much more dire consequences, unless he can bring himself to get out front and change the narrative before his back is against the wall.

Posted by: dcsusie on April 7, 2011 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

We will see - though I can already imagine Obama's weak response -- whether Obama has the ability to capitalize politically on the shutdown and to make of it what Clinton did. Sad to say, I predict a continuation of his naive, leaderless, "oh please please come together" approach that has been so brilliantly successful time and time again. A real leader would, for example, come out of today's meeting with his rhetorical guns blazing and (finally) take a progressive stand on the budget. But Obama, apparently, just doesn't have it in him.

Posted by: sjw on April 7, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

If I were a Democratic politician, here's what I'd ask these Republicans:

"Ok, what's your alternative to 'PLANNED Parenthood?'

"OOOOOOOOPS!!!
PARENTHOOD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??

They just don't like women and their icky parts.

It's really a wonder any of them have any families.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 7, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

No problem here! The only people who count anymore can afford bottled air as well as bottled water. And contraception will reduce the population and drive up wages. Can't have that.

Posted by: tamiasmin on April 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

@MuddyLee, you're being too logical. The only logic current Republicans (sigh -- I can remember some reasonable ones) understand is that of (a) their largest campaign contributors; and (b) single-issue fanatics, upon whose votes they depend.
@Ron Byers, I had a medical issue a while back and my doctor was booked solid for weeks, so the receptionist sent me to Planned Parenthood for treatment. And I have health insurance. Its services are vital to lots of people. Unfortunately for PP, those people don't tend to be in upper-income brackets, so they're of no consequence to Boehner & Co.

Posted by: R on April 7, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

What we're talking about here is Republicans shutting down the government over access to contraception and family planning services.

What most commenters here are not aware of - and indeed what most people are not aware of - is that the Right has always been opposed to allowing access to contraception and family planning services - in fact, this is why they have always been opposed to Planned Parenthood since back 100 years ago when they used to run Margaret Sanger off the stage when she came to speak somewhere. They had postal regulations that were adopted by Anthony Comstock that said such information was pornography, and people were indeed prosecuted for mailing pornography for sending such information in the mail.

For the Right, Griswold v. Connecticut has always been as big a rallying cry within their organizations as Roe v. Wade - they have concentrated on Roe because they can get people to support that who would tell them they are nuts to go after family planning, which - as others have pointed out here - actually leads to fewer abortion.

These people need to control women and sex because it is their way of maintaining the patriarchy. They've never been different on the topic. Those of you who are under 60 have no idea what it used to be like, what a "radical act" it was for a boy to ask the local pharmacist (who might well say no) to give him a box of condoms from the back of the store, or how radical it was for a woman to even think of getting birth control. Outside of big cities and certain doctors (as you might have seen in the first season of "Mad Men") such services weren't even available for married women, let alone single women. And this is what the Right wants to return to - that and "the 1872 husband" who could physically "discipline" his wife if she "got out of hand" and failed to recognize her husband's headship of the family. The Christian Fundamentalists are doing this now!

Posted by: TCinLA on April 7, 2011 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah it is worth rejecting it all just to make sure Planned Parenthood and the Clean Air Act are a priority. The checks will roll in as soon as those are approved.

Posted by: Orwell on April 7, 2011 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I find it funny that some of you are bashing Democrats when we are heading for a shutdown because they ALREADY told the GOP NO DEAL on those riders.

Posted by: Alli on April 7, 2011 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

What we're talking about here is Republicans shutting down the government over access to contraception and family planning services.

Which, of course, just goes to show that the real goal of the forced-birth crowd is to ban contraception, not just abortion.

And yes, "Orwell," if the Republicans insist on putting poison pill provisions in the legislation, they're responsible for its failure. Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on April 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Planned Parenthood isn't just about abortion!

PP uses only private funds for abortion. What the GOP wants to cut is money that goes to care for poor people, including things like Pap smears, mammograms, STD testing, and so on, as well as advise on and prescription of birth control.

So: Take away Federal funds for Title X-type stuff, and you'll have more pregnant and sick poor people. And won't that be just wonderful for America!

Posted by: K in VA on April 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

For some time I have not been abloe to decide if a majority of the national republican electeds are far right wing ideological wackos or simply pandering to said wackos on behalf of the monied interests to accomplish their evil 'anti government more money for me' ends. There is after all evidence supporting both premises. It seems clear to me that if the rethugs cause the government to shut down tomorrow night we have to conclude that a functioning majority of the republican electeds are far right wing ideological wackos and only a minority are super hypocritical whores.

Posted by: robert on April 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Hope President Reasonableness is learning something from this about the likely result of trying to negotiate in good faith with these assholes.....
Posted by: dcsusie on April 7, 2011 at 11:12 AM


The ones I would hope should learn something are all those "progressives" who didn't bother to vote in 2010 because Obama didn't produce unicorns.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on April 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Having been in college during the first shutdown, I remember sort of watching in disbelief as the GOP laid out their plans in the media to shut down the government and blame Clinton, and then the media play along as if both sides were equally to blame. As Gingrich's numbers plummeted, they held firm long beyond common sense.

When they caved, the lesson the GOP took away from it was that they hadn't held firm enough, long enough. So they did it again with disaster funding, to the same result until one GOP representative said one of the angry phone calls that had been clogging his office lines had come from his own mother.

The lesson the GOP learned was they did not hold firm enough, long enough. So when Monica Lewinsky broke, they held firm, long after their numbers plummeted and an overwhelming 70-somethng percent of the US wanted to keep Clinton in office and move on.

The GOP is never wrong, only wronged, and so every obvious misstep by the GOP means we have to suffer through it again twice as hard because they're sure, this time, if they hold out a little longer and push a little harder, they'll be-proven-righ-all-along. I know I'm anxiously awaiting all the future Iraq Wars we'll have to fight to reclaim their honor lost during the Bush years.

The GOP has to shut down the government because if they don't, it will be an admission it was a mistake the first two times.

Posted by: memekiller on April 7, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, were in biparti-Xanadu! What (else) could go wrong?

I'm working on the parody of the ONJ song..

A place where "moderates" pan the bill,
The GOP wants to kill,
they call it Bipartixanadu...

Posted by: Trollop on April 7, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Not sure why republicans want the kids, they just plan on beating the living shit out of them anyways. Guess it must be the added bonus to their joy of pounding the shit out of women on a regular basis.

Posted by: Silver Owl on April 7, 2011 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK
The ones I would hope should learn something are all those "progressives" who didn't bother to vote in 2010 because Obama didn't produce unicorns.

All 10 of them. Those are not the stay-at-home voters who matter numerically, idiot.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 7, 2011 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree that a shutdown is "madness" to the GOP. It's just a pricey symbol for them to take home to the base. And it won't hurt the party as much as l'affaire Gingrich, since Boehner is a less obvious villain. But it'll settle up soon after Friday if not before. Republicans really do not want to see the matter drag on and hurt their appeal to independents. Dems have the winning hand (if more like two pair than four aces), and everybody knows it except the Tea Partiers.

Posted by: beejeez on April 7, 2011 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

R
I never said Planned Parenthood didn't provide great services. I am just saying that by focusing on the two riders the way they are the parties are signaling that they are cutting a deal giving Democrats Planned Parenthood and the Koch brothers the air we breath.
Personally I think the President should hold to his position and tell the Republicans to stick it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 7, 2011 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

What a lovely world the Republicans envision for us.

But then again, they really only want what is good for their PARTY, not their COUNTRY. In the now immortal Freudian slip by Mike Pence, a "shutdown is good for the REPUBLICAN people."

Posted by: jjm on April 7, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

There is an "optics" problem and a math problem for john of orange boner.

IF they get to an agreement before a shutdown, with Obama involved, there is a good chance that Obama "looks" good - ie, presidential announcement, captive, docile, stupid press, decent leads on the news, etc., with O man announcing " we have come to an agreement ... blah blah blah". ie, boner gave the president the opportunity to look presidiential.

So no matter what boner boy comes to now, to his yahoo base, he looks to have capitualted by having to say "we'll we go 34.5 bil" and if the Dems hold tough on the ideological issues, they he has to say " well, we got 34.5 bi., but the meany head demos. of the senate wouldn't give more".

SO, this will piss off the Yahoos. So, how many? Remember, 218 is the number. For every yahoo vote past 23 [241-218] he has to get a dem vote, meaning --- that Nancy P has to give him a vote. [IF Nancy P gives in on PP and EPA etc, she needs to resign.] So assume Nancy won't give on those issues; Doesn't boner have to talk to Pelosi? Sure there are still some "blue dogs" that Pelosi can give, but many of them are gone from the last election, so ... how many can she give???

So, how many yahoos, many of whom profess that they don't care if they get re-elected in 2012, will go against the boner over EITHER 34.5 bil, or whatever, OR Planned Parenthood and all the other bullshit issues??? IS it greater, or less than, 23?

Do ya feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?

So ....

Posted by: bigtuna on April 7, 2011 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Would I shut down the Govt over Planned Parenthood? Perhaps.

If you think slavery is wrong, then dont own one.
If you think abortion is wrong, then dont have one.

The slave is my property and my choice what I do with it.
The fetus is my body and my choice what I do with it.

The government shouldnt interfere with a states rights on slavery.
The government shouldnt interfere with a womans rights on abortion.

If the slaves were free, they couldnt take care of themselves.
If abortion were stopped, there would be more unwanted children.

Its all right to sleep with slaves, but they are not equal.
Its all right to use the fetus' organs and tissue, but they are not people.

People will own slaves anyway, so we should just regulate the trade.
People will have abortions anyway, so we should just make them hygienic.

Slaves sing, they weep, they pray, but do they have souls?
Fetuses have heartbeats, brainwaves, distinct genetic codes, but are they human?

Abortion is barbaric, and PP organized barbarism.

Posted by: MKS on April 7, 2011 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Two simple questions:

Why can't the question be asked: "Will Harry Reid shut down the government over Planned Parenthood?"

The house has passed a budget, the Senate has not passed an alternate. Why is it incumbent on the house to pass a different bill before the Senate passes their own version first?

Posted by: Datechguy on April 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think you get it. The majority of the U. S. is pro life. Is the life of a 25 month old fetus worth shutting down the government? Of course it is. Planned Parenthood is nothing but an abortion mill. Pro life supporter will gladly support money for women health as long as there is no connection to any abortion provider.

Posted by: Keith on April 7, 2011 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

The majority of the U. S. is pro life.
So why don't they directly fund Planned Parenthood ?

Posted by: Neo on April 7, 2011 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK
"These matters have no place on a budget bill," Mr. Reid said. Regarding the dispute over abortion funding, Mr. Reid said that lawmakers can't solve in one night an issue that this country has been fighting over for four decades."

This is a dispute over abortion funding ?
The Hyde Amendment made federal payments for abortion illegal for the last two decades.
Is Harry Reid now saying that Planned Parenthood has been breaking the law ?

Posted by: Neo on April 7, 2011 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Culture wars are just to get all of us schmucks (Left and Right) emotional, agitated--and distracted. What this is REALLY about is lowering tax rates for the richest, from 35% to 25% (for now). And the trifecta of gutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Plus, making the Government so impoverished that it can't enforce workplace-safety and financial regulations. It's about RICH PEOPLE.

Posted by: SophieinVA on April 7, 2011 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

"The house(sic) has passed a budget, the Senate has not passed an alternate. Why is it incumbent on the house(sic) to pass a different bill before the Senate passes their own version first?" datechguy @ 3:33 PM.

Budgets have to originate in the House of Representatives. Per the Constitution, the House of Representatives is responsible for originating financial legislation that is then sent to the Senate. Once the Budget bill has been received by the Senate, the Senate can then make changes, if it wishes, or it can simply pass the original House Budget bill unchanged.
IF there are any changes made to the Budget, then the bill has to go back to the originating chamber for re-passage; ie, the House of Representatives. The requirement for re-passage of amended, changed or altered bills is true for ALL legislation, by the way, not just the Budget.
Since "money bills" HAVE to originate in the House, the Senate CANNOT originate a Budget, it can only amend a Budget bill presented to it by the House. These negotiations are taking place because the Budget bill presented to the Senate will not pass the Senate in its present form. Even when the same party controls both House and Senate it's not uncommon for a Budget bill to have to be re-passed by the House after changes are made to it in the Senate.
The present problem arises because of several factors, the major one being that, apparently, a sizeable portion of the Republican majority in the House refuses to admit that, for politics to work, compromises have to be made. They refuse to compromise and seem to expect the Democrats to pass whatever abomination the most crazed right-wingers in the House can imagine.
If you have access to them, I can recommend the "Schoolhouse Rock" videos.

re Keith @ 4:03 PM.
"The majority of the U.S. is pro-life."
As opposed to being "pro-death", I suppose? The majority of the U.S. population believes that abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor. So let's just butt out, shall we?
"Is the life of a 25 month old fetus worth shutting down the government? Of course it is."
If it's 25 months old, then it's NOT a fetus; it's a two year-old child. But, of course, since a two year-old child ISN'T a fetus, then providing any public help is anathema, isn't it?
And no, it's NOT worth shutting the government down.
"Planned Parenthood is nothing but an abortion mill."
You got that right off your enrollment card, now didn't you? Do you know what an actual "abortion mill" was? It was a place where women, who had no access to ANY form of preventative birth control, went to terminate a pregnancy. Quite often those places were staffed by unlicensed doctors and the like. Such places are now usually found in those areas of the country where terrorism and acts of violence have prevented qualified doctors from providing appropriate medical care to those women who, for whatever reason, wish to terminate a pregnancy.
Your last sentence is belied by all the actions of the so-called "pro-life" movement to prevent the distibution of condoms or provide birth control on the same basis as nostrums for erectile dysfunction; all the while gutting programs that provide food and healthcare to mothers and their children.
If you're a troll, learn to write coherent sentences. If you're NOT a troll and really believe in the tripe you've posted, any female you're acquainted with has my sympathy.

"Is Harry Reid now saying that Planned Parenthood has been breaking the law?" Neo @ 4:48 PM.
No. SATSQ

Posted by: Doug on April 7, 2011 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Ok Doug let me re-phrase. Why doesn't the Senate make changes to the House bill and then send it back as a counter offer?

Posted by: Datechguy on April 7, 2011 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate the high caliber reporting that you are doing and am grateful to have Washington Monthly as a news source. However, I must object to your use of the term "culture war". While a catchy phrase, it doesn't convey what's at stake here. This is a war over civil rights. Calling it a culture war makes it sound like we're debating the pronunciation of "tomato".

Posted by: aa on April 7, 2011 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

Why didn't the Democrats pass the budget when they had both legislative houses.

Rangel: "We didn't get to it."

Posted by: Neo on April 8, 2011 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

Good day everyone! It has been discovered that man’s nutrition, sex -- all is actually programmed. Human beings are biomachines! Take a look - Catalog of Human Population (CHP)

Posted by: cyborg on April 11, 2011 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK
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