Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bailout Battle over Birth Control

Recent reports indicate that President Obama will not support the inclusion of birth control funding in the bailout legislation. He is reported to have talked to Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the energy and commerce committee, about having this provision removed. The Republicans assert that birth control funding has nothing to do with the bailout. While this is undoubtedly true, the inter-party wars over birth control have reared their ugly head. The connection between conservativism and birth control is tenuous at best, since the majority of Republicans are not Catholic, even though the majority of Catholics use birth control. Oh yes, the majority of Evangelicals are opposed to birth control. Is the country to be governed by the beliefs of the Evangelicals? Did Nancy Pelosi actually say that birth control funding would be stimulating? Did Boehner actually say it wouldn't be?

With so much at stake it is amazing how the both parties have gotten themselves tied up over long-standing unresolved issues. Bush is in, birth control is out; Obama is in, birth control is in. Birth control funding will happen whether or not the Republicans like it, just not in the bailout legislation. Representative Boehner recently said that the Republicans can't be the party of, "No." Well, they appear to be that on both counts. Against birth control, and against the bailout. There also appears to be a prevailing belief among the Republicans the bailout won't work and the Democrats will be left holding the bag in the 2010 elections. If the bailout doesn't work, there will be little left of the economy of the country for either party to fight over in 2010.

So much for bipartisanship. Why is it necessary for the Democrats to put things in the bill that they know will anger the Republicans and why is it necessary for the Republicans to react in a Pavlovian manner? Whether or not the bailout will work remains to be seen. At least the Obama team is coming up with an overarching plan that will address the short-term and long-term economic issues through a diverse array of legislation and other activities. This is a significant improvement over former secretary of treasury Paulson "winging it" as he went along.

In these perilous economic times we need more grown-ups. As the president said in his inaugural speech, "Now is the time to put away childish things." How many from both parties will join the president in being a grown-up is yet to be seen.

No comments: