power and priorities: what are Obama’s?

(No, I’m still not officially back, but this was something about which I just had to post.)

Democrats are giddy at being back in power. But I will suggest that being in power is all about priorities. One should watch carefully to see what the priorities of the new administration are..

The above is from an piece in the Huffington Post by Ian Welsh, What Obama’s Nixing Family Planning Money Tells Us
And what it’s telling us is that Obama’s priority seems to be bipartisanship at any cost.
From PlanetWire.org:

Obama was reported to have asked Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who chairs the House committee with jurisdiction over Medicaid, to drop a provision that would enable states to provide family planning to low-income families without having to seek permission from the federal government. Other outlets said he was “distancing himself” from the provision as “not part of” his $825 billion stimulus plan.

According to the news tonight, the plan just passed by the House is, indeed, lacking support for family planning. And the Republicans didn’t vote for it anyway.,
Providing these family services might not seem very important in light of the priority to restore some economic stability to our faltering capitalistic system. However, an increase in unplanned pregnancies in all of those individual “little pictures” would put a drain on the economy on its most fundamental level.
According to PlanetWire,

…the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research and policy analysis, points out that Medicaid spending has long proven good for the economy. In its own study in 2007, the Congressional Budget Office found publicly funded family planning would save the federal government $200 million over five years by helping women avoid pregnancies that otherwise would lead to Medicaid-funded births.

Publicly funded clinics provided contraceptive services last year that helped women avoid 1.4 million unintended pregnancies that would have resulted in 640,000 unintended births and 600,000 abortions. Without these services, abortions would have risen by 49 percent, the Guttmacher Institute says in a statement.

Having worked for a Senate Majority Leader in New York State, I am well-aware of the horse trading that often goes on to get major legislation passed, and so I understand why Obama might have chosen to sacrifice a part of what he wants in order to get Republican approval — not just for this stimulus package, but for other legislation still to come.
Well, you made your choices and took your chances, Mr. President, and it didn’t work.
There’s still hope, though. The Senate can put the family services request back into the stimulus plan legislation and then send it back to the House, where the Democrats can just go ahead and pass it again in the form in which they should have passed it in the first place.
Or the family services request can be incorporated into the next stimulus package, which is sure to come soon — although some legislative bill writer will have to be pretty creative to figure out a way to include it in with shoring up the banking and housing industry.
Whatever the strategy, President Obama needs to put his power behind making the family services request as a priority.

One thought on “power and priorities: what are Obama’s?

  1. I suspect, if you dig down deeper, a fair percentage of the Family Planning funds was going to be redirected into developing country programs where Mr. Obama lifted the Mexico City Gag rule. In the whole scheme of things, it was just too hard to get Republicans to believe it wasn’t about condoms of Americans and of lesser significance for Democrats to help women in foriegn countries.

    The fact that Obama managed to get the bill through in such a short time, does, as you say, show his willingness to be bipartisan, make hard compromises and remain focused. The only people who lost on this vote were the Republicans. Today, a day after the vote, they are still out there making childish demands and kicking and screaming and in a pout. Thank heavens for the Democrats majority.

    What the Republicans should consider is if they are not willing to show a change, their is little likelihood Americans as a whole can show the rest of the world that they are willing to collaborate.

    Just reading about some of the comments at Davos economic conference, makes me realise that even though Americans are willing to be patient with Obama, the rest of the world is not necessary willing to be so patient with Americans or American politics.

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