Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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Obama, Contraception & the Stimulus Package

with 2 comments

I find I’m disagreeing a lot today with my favorite feminist bloggers, but here goes again … as much as I’m totally in support less bizarre-regulation of federal funding for family planning, I do not think the proper place for this is in the economic stimulus package.

Jill Filipovic disapprovingly quotes John Boehner asking, “How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives? How does that stimulate the economy?” Well … yeah. As Jill also points out, the contraceptive funding would be part of an overall initiative to help states fund Medicaid programs, and “Medicaid spending generally isn’t being attacked; it’s contraception spending.” Ann Friedman at TAPPED adds:

Not only will this expand health care services and take some burden off states, it will eliminate the need for states to go to the federal government and obtain a waiver.

But I think Rachel Larimore at The XX Factor and Matthew Yglesias have the right idea when the point out that, despite the maybe worthwhile nature of this provision, the economic stimulus bill is not the right place for it. Rachel writes

Despite Obama’s pledge that there would be no pork in the legislation, Las Vegas’ mayor has been trying to get stimulus bucks for a planned “Mob Museum” for his city, and conservatives are already having fun with such proposals as an extra $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. If family planning is so important, do we really want it to be reduced to comparisons to the Mob Museum? Can’t it stand on its own merits?

[…] Make funding for family planning its OWN legislation. Get the debate out into the open. Obama promised hope and change. Congress shouldn’t let him down with business as usual.

If reversing the Bush administration’s insistence that state Medicaid programs apply for contraception/family planning funding separate from overall funding is a worthwhile enough goal—and I think it is, for both the ideologically and the bureaucraticly offensive portions of this provision— than addressing it as an issue in its own right instead of trying to sneak it into the economic recovery bill just seems proper.

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Written by Elizabeth

January 27, 2009 at 11:31 pm

2 Responses

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  1. “addressing it as an issue in its own right instead of trying to sneak it into the economic recovery bill just seems proper.”

    While my gut reaction is to agree with you on this point, thinking upon it further, I have to think about the ultimate purpose of this bill. I.E., it is to not only provide an initial blast of funds to jump start the economy but to also provide relief in the long term. Doesn’t helping states save money on contraceptives do just that?

    Of course, all of this is now a moot point as Obama and congressional Democrats have removed the 200 million dollars from the bill at the GOP represenatives request.

    Mickey

    January 27, 2009 at 11:57 pm

  2. […] a comment » A few days ago, Elizabeth Nolan Brown made a smart point about Obama’s decision to cut family planning funding from the stimulus […]


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