When women are still pawns

Last night on Rachel Maddow, David Sirota said Democrats had the votes to pass the stimulus bill without making any concessions to the Republicans on tax cuts. His opinion was that every dollar we lost from the stimulus package to tax cuts would cost taxpayers in the long run because it meant fewer dollars to restore the economy.  Others have also said there are enough votes to pass this bill without compromising with Republicans.

Yet, it appears the Democrats feel they have to compromise with Republicans — by eliminating the money in the bill that would extend family planning services.  Poor women, rural women, women of color, women without health insurance, women trying to keep their jobs so they can have employer-based health insurance: your access to family planning is seen as “pork” or part of a social agenda and even though it was included to help out the states with their Medicaid expenses, no one has articulated the direct impact on the economy. So bye-bye, family planning! What were we thinking!

I have been one of the loudest critics of people who have complained about what President Obama has or has not accomplished already or how or when he accomplished it. I’ve gotten frustrated with the pundits and the bloggers for their completely unrealistic expectations of what a new President should do in less than a week in office, or for the lack of appreciation for the number of things he has done in his first few hours and days.

Bloggers wanted the global gag rule repealed  – but they wanted it done on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  People were appreciative when President Obama made it one of the things he did in his first few days in office. But some people were still upset because it didn’t happen in their time line.

I think we have all become vigilant about what our government has done or failed to do and the rights that the government took away from its citizens over the last eight years. We’ve gotten into the habit of fighting for ourselves and others, and raising hell about everything, and laying blame.  With the election of President Obama we are prepared to re-learn coalition-building skills, working across the ideological lines, and starting to trust again.

I have repeatedly said, step back. Take a deep breath. Be patient. Give the man a chance. Learn a new way of doing things, watch him put together coalitions that accomplish what is in our common interests.

But I was severely disappointed and frustrated to see the lack of support for the family planning part of the stimulus bill and to learn that it will probably be cut WHEN THE BILL COULD BE PASSED AS IT IS. 

I don’t think we can ever build coalitions with Republican male politicians around women’s reproductive health because they have an entirely different agenda for women and their wombs. The only way to compromise with them has been to give up women’s rights, including deciding for ourselves when we are open to having a child and when we are not.  It isn’t that they want government to stay out of our reproductive lives. THEY want to be in charge of our reproductive lives. 

Women who don’t have health insurance, poor women, rural women, women of color, the women who have the most need for information and contraception methods to help them carry out their own decisions to prevent unwanted pregnancies – these are the women who will suffer. 

The big secret is this: when women have access to education and family planning services, it boosts the economy in their country. When they don’t, the government pays in many ways.

I had enough of the anti-woman policies during the last eight years. People like John Boehner and Congressman Wexler will never understand how anything that is good for women has a connection to the economy because they don’t see women in that context.  They have no idea how women’s access to reproductive health care benefits anyone else. They think of “women’s issues” only in terms of social programs that they think cost them.  Wexler said on Hardball that he ought to stop talking because his wife would get after him when he got home. Maybe the men who run things ought to pay more attention to their wives. Better yet, maybe it’s their wives who should be in charge for a change.

I liked it better when President Obama just said, “I won.” I don’t like it that Democrats are still courting the Republicans who are putting forth the same old line and policies that put this country into the tank.  They aren’t going to change. They aren’t going to learn anything. They are still The Wrecking Crew. 

Why do we have to sacrifice family planning services to appease them?

Here’s the first article I read this morning:

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.

Several officials said a final decision was expected on Tuesday, coinciding with Obama’s scheduled visit to the Capitol for separate meetings with House and Senate Republicans.

The provision has emerged as a point of contention among Republicans, who criticize it as an example of wasteful spending that would neither create jobs nor otherwise improve the economy.

Under the provision, states no longer would be required to obtain federal permission to offer family planning services _ including contraceptives _ under Medicaid, the health program for the low-income.

Democrats considered the politically-potent change as congressional budget experts estimated it would take slightly longer for the overall legislation to achieve an impact on the economy than the administration projects.

The Congressional Budget Office said the economy would feel the effects of almost two-thirds of the money over the next year and a half. The administration claims 75 percent of the funding would be absorbed in that period of time, and Obama has pledged that the bill he signs will meet that target and either save or create up to 4 million jobs.

While the debate surrounding the overall impact of the measure pits economists and their statistics against one another, Republicans quickly seized on the family planning money as evidence that the Democrats were advancing an agenda that went beyond the economy.

“How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives how does that stimulate the economy?” House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio said on Friday after congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House. “You can go through a whole host of issues that have nothing to do with growing jobs in America and helping people keep their jobs.”

Article Source: Huffington Post

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