Q: When do conservatives not like policies that remove bureaucratic hurdles and save states millions of dollars?
A: When those policies have the potential to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies.
House Minority Leader John Boehner is railing against a provision of the stimulus package that would increase Medicaid funding to states for family-planning services. 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. Writes Amanda Terkel at ThinkProgress,
No one would be forcing states to pay for family planning services. States can now cover low-income women if they get a state waiver, but approval can take a long time. Despite these bureaucratic hassles, 27 states have already “obtained federal approval to extend Medicaid eligibility for family planning services to individuals who would otherwise not be eligible.” This bill would simply allow states to skip the administrative delays.
So instead of rejoicing about how this provision would remove red tape and save states $400 million over 10 years, conservatives are wailing about how Nancy "Grandmother of 6" Pelosi hates babies. James Pethokoukis at U.S. News:
This is wrong on so many levels, one of which is looking at children born to the "wrong people" as economic burdens rather gifts, the music makers, the dreamers of dreams. She sees them as a cost instead of blessed benefits.
Pethokoukis seems a little confused. See, this provision doesn't just fund contraception. It pays for services to promote maternal and infant health -- medical care once those "music-makers and dreamers of dreams" are born.
For more head-smackingly stupid commentary, we turn to Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: I don’t know. It sounds a little like China. […] I think everybody should have family planning and everybody believes in birth control as a right. I’m for — abortion is a right and all that. It’s all right. But why should the federal government have a policy of reducing the number of births?
Because broadening access to voluntary contraception is the same thing as forced abortions under the one-child policy? I, and roughly 98 percent of American women, see those things as quite distinct.
The most frustrating thing is that Obama wants to cave on this. A final decision on the provision is expected tomorrow.
UPDATE: Harold Pollack, writing over at Ezra's blog:
Family planning is no pork barrel item. By any reasonable public health measure, these services are more important and cost-effective than many other health expenditures nobody is fighting about.