Government Shutdown Over Pap Smears: GOP Culture War Is Alive And Well
Last night Ryan Grim reported that the GOP may force a government shutdown largely over funding for Planned Parenthood under Title X:
At a late-night White House meeting between the president and key congressional leaders, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made clear that his conference would not approve funding for the government if any money were allowed to flow to Planned Parenthood through legislation known as Title X. “This comes down to women’s health issues related to Title X,” a person in the meeting told HuffPost.
The negotiations are dominated by men: All of the principal negotiators in both parties are male, as are most of the senior staff involved. (House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have largely been left out of key talks.)
House Republicans have been insisting the roadblock to cutting a new budget deal is not just the culture-war riders attached to the spending plan, but a source familiar with a top-level White House meeting earlier Thursday said most of the discussion in fact was about the riders.
The Hyde Amendment already prevents government funding for abortions, and abortions are a tiny part of the services Planned Parenthood provides.
The government is on the verge of being shut down because Republicans want to inset a provision into the budget that would prevent millions of women from getting contraception or cancer screening. This could be brinkmanship:Because the Republican base sees a shutdown as an end unto itself, the Republican leadership has a really strong political incentive to stretch this out as long as possible and cut a deal at the last minute. If this is the case, then culture war rhetoric serves as political cover for Republican leaders who want to cut a deal that might be hard to sell to the base.
In the past few weeks, we’ve been treated to a bevy of coverage insisting that Republicans have abandoned the culture war and are focusing on fiscal issues. Republicans like these stories because they make them look less extreme. But as Greg noted earlier today: “In its current form, at least, the budget debate is not meaningfully about fiscal matters. It’s over abortion, women’s health, and whether our environmental policies should be premised on climate science.”
What’s more, it’s not like pursuing the culture war and trying to defund the federal social safety net for women are mutually exclusive goals. In this case, they’re complimenting each other — when you’re trying to appease the Republican base, there isn’t a much better sweet spot intersection between the culture war and fiscal conservatism than women’s reproductive health.
By: Adam Serwer, The Washington Post, April 8, 2011
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