September 10, 2015

Another September, Another Shutdown Threat

This time, the subject is funding for Planned Parenthood.

It’s that time of year again — summer’s end, the hint of falling leaves and the annual talk of a government shutdown. With Congress back in session this week and fewer than 10 working days before the Sept. 30 spending bill deadline, political consultants are once again prepping the spin-fest to ensure that, should a shutdown occur, the other side gets the blame.

This time, the sticking point isn’t ObamaCare as in 2013, or Barack Obama’s immigration overreach as in 2014, but rather continued government funding for Planned Parenthood. The nation’s largest abortion mill (327,653 babies killed in 2013) rakes in more than $500 million per year in taxpayer dollars while dismembering babies and selling their body parts to the highest bidder.

“[T]his arrangement is not new,” notes Terence Jeffrey. “In fiscal 2012, Planned Parenthood says in its immediate past report, it did 327,166 abortions. In the year that ended on June 30, 2013, it got $540.6 million in government money. In fiscal 2011, it did 333,964 abortions, and in the year that ended on June 30, 2012, it got $542.4 million in government money.”

That’s $1.6 billion in tax dollars for nearly a million dead babies. Oh, they say no federal money goes to pay for abortions, but is anyone really naïve enough to buy that?

So approximately 30 House members who actually believe in the inalienable right to life signed a letter promising to reject any spending bill — short-term stop-gap measures included — that contains funding for Planned Parenthood. The signatories number nearly enough to mean that a spending bill retaining funding for the abortion giant will require House Speaker John Boehner to dip into the Democrat vote bin to secure enough votes for passage. That could yield other undesirable concessions in order to get those votes.

It’s hard to fathom fetal dismemberment would be grounds for any debate, but, alas, such is the depraved world in which we live.

Despite the GOP’s strongly pro-life platform (which apparently means whatever legislators want it to mean, just like the Constitution), Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Squish One and Squish Two, respectively) have little interest in cutting off money for the abortion mill as a condition of funding the rest of the government. After all, let’s not miss the forest for the trees. Or, in this case, let’s not forget all the great women’s health care Planned Parenthood provides along with abortions. You know, the grand total of zero mammograms nationwide. (By the way, that care is available at any number of other clinics.)

Members of the GOP who oppose making a costly political fight to defund the organization argue that efforts to defund the abortion giant as part of a spending bill are doomed to fail, as Obama would never sign such a bill and Congress lacks the votes to override a veto. Ergo, don’t risk a shutdown for which Republicans would be blamed.

Unfortunately, it is simple math. Obama would certainly veto the measure, or Senate Democrats would filibuster so he didn’t have to, and Republicans likely would shoulder the blame for any shutdown. We’ve opposed previous no-win shutdown gambits on those same grounds.

But many conservatives are asking a couple of questions. First, if Republicans aren’t willing to fight for this hill, what hill are they willing to fight for? Second, as Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) put it, “How would things have been different if Harry Reid were in charge?”

The problem isn’t that pro-life conservatives are bucking leadership; it’s that Boehner, McConnell and the multitude of spineless legislators who hijack the “R” designation have proven time and again that they are unwilling to take a stand on principle — any principle — be it health care, immigration, executive overreach, spending or debt. Oh, they’ll feign a fighting spirit. But when principle demands that action back up rhetoric, GOP “leaders” suddenly become immobile. After all, in August, McConnell promised “no more government shutdowns.”

Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood as part of the spending bill will certainly fail, but that’s arguably because the GOP’s culture of concession has conditioned Democrats to know that Boehner, McConnell and their political allies would never hold firm on any demands, even if they did pretend to take a stand.

As a result, those willing to fight for life are branded as insurgents, while supposedly savvy congressional leaders try to explain why now simply isn’t a convenient time to stop the slaughter and auction of the unborn.

So perhaps the lesson for pro-lifers is simple: Fewer lives will be saved through unwinnable funding fights on Capitol Hill than through changing the hearts and minds of our family, friends and neighbors.

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