About That Family Planning Provision

First, it’s not dead:

Women’s health advocates were dismayed this week to see the removal of family-planning aid from Congress’ economic recovery bill after a push by Republicans to politicize a generally cut-and-dry issue of Medicaid waivers. (Time has some good background here.)

But the dismay may not last long. A source present at today’s White House signing ceremony for the Lilly Ledbetter bill tells me that President Obama gave assurances that the family planning aid would be done soon — perhaps as soon as next week, when the House is set to take up a spending bill that would keep the government funded until October.

In other words, Obama was not killing the family planning aid; he was merely removing it from that particular bill (the stimulus package) so that House Republicans (who had raised a huge stink abut the aid) would feel comfortable voting for the economic recovery bill (emphasis mine):

By removing the family-planning aid from the stimulus at Obama’s request, Democrats “were giving a nod to the Republicans, believing they would act in good faith,” the source added. And given how many GOPers voted for the stimulus bill, sounds like the family-planning aid is back on track.

Second, the provision is entirely innocuous (ital in original; bolds are mine):

… The provision would have allowed states to cover family planning services–but not abortion–that they already cover for low-income women who don’t otherwise qualify for Medicaid, just without first requiring states to obtain a waiver from the federal government. That’s it. It wouldn’t have permitted new services to be included under “family planning.” It wouldn’t have required states to cover anything or anyone that they didn’t want to. It just would have allowed them to do what they’re already doing without first going through the red tape of obtaining a waiver.

Third, the waiver process is burdensome and costly. Eliminating the need for waivers saves money — lots of money (emphasis mine):

… The waiver process … can take as long as 24 months, states have to reapply after five years, and because the program was originally set up kind of as a demonstration project, states have to prove that the impact would be cost-neutral. We’re 26 states in now and the evidence is that the program is more than cost-neutral. The CBO score of a similar provision back in 2007 was that it would save $400 million over ten years; a new CBO score of this provision adjusted that total to $700 million over the same time period. So the waiver hoop should be unnecessary now.

Fourth, giving this president the benefit of the doubt is proving — so far, at least — to be a very good bet:

… consider a good point E.J. Graff raised the other day about the new administration “showing incredible savvy in making controversial changes about women’s health.” In less than two weeks, this includes repealing the global gag rule and restoring investment in the United Nations Population Fund. Noting the withdrawal of the family-planning provision from the stimulus legislation, Graff said on Tuesday, “I’m guessing that the Obamamites are being savvy — taking this fight out of the public eye so that they can handle it in a better way.” …

I’m just not used to having someone in the Oval Office whose good faith can be relied upon.

6 Responses to “About That Family Planning Provision”

  1. You know, and perhaps I should do a post on this, I have to again reference a remark I made during the last CommentsCast; essentially saying that Obama is going to move us further left than any other president could have, but he’s going to piss off a lot of liberals in the process.

    Right now, count me as among one of Obama’s cheerleaders, but that’s because I think he’s going about things the right way. He’s pushing to the left, but he’s doing it as a centrist or a moderate. He’s making the right concessions at the right time and he’s making wise political moves. Without getting too lengthy here, the effect is that the “honeymoon” with America lasts a lot longer, and allows him to be more effective at doing his job.

    On the contrary, if Obama did everything the Left wanted him to do the way they wanted him to do it, what we would have instead is a much shorter honeymoon, a much more meaningful and effective resistence, and we would undoubtedly face a backlash situation.

    So, to quote the lolpic, “Everybody chill the fuck out” he’s got this. It’s way too early to start picking him apart now, give him a little bit of time and see how he does his thing.

  2. Kathy says:


    Obama is going to move us further left than any other president could have, but he’s going to piss off a lot of *liberals* in the process?

    Are you sure you don’t mean *conservatives*?

  3. Nope, I meant liberals

  4. Kathy says:

    Okay, well, then I don’t understand your meaning at all.

  5. My meaning is that while Obama pushes things to the left, he will do so using tactics or in such a way that will not be satisfactory for many of the activists of the left.. That’s what I mean.

  6. Kathy says:

    As long as he pushes things to the left, I don’t care how he does it (as long as it’s legal and ethical, of course). The problem as I see it is not that his tactics won’t be satisfactory to those on the left — it’s that his tactics are not recognized as being designed to push things to the left. I’m so used to seeing Democratic politicians cave in to the right, that when Obama does things like pull the family planning provision out of the stimulus bill, I immediately think the intention is to kill that provision. But with him, that’s not the intention. He’s putting it through; he’ll just find a different venue. I’m not used to that.

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