(CCU Student) The last few weeks, Americans had to go through an exhausting debate on the federal budget that lead to the fear of a government shutdown. The Republican Party (Tea Partiers especially) underwent vast criticism for their willingness to risk government shutdowns over spending cuts. In the end however Republican House Majority leader John Boehner was able to negotiate a settlement where there were $35–39billion worth of spending cuts where passed in the next six month budget while taking a largely underrated stand on federal funding as it relates to abortion rights, all while avoiding the government shutdown.
While I feel for the people whose lives were liable to be negatively affected in a large way by a debate that to some may seem distant and petty (especially thinking of my close friends whose humanitarian summer missions trips to Africa and Asia may have been seriously affected by a shutdown of the passport offices) all conservatives must thank the leadership of John Boehner and his fellow Republicans for sending the message to President Obama that we as Americas are serious when it comes to fiscal conservatism as well as abortion rights.
While Tea Party Republicans called for spending cuts ranging from $60–70billion over the next six months, the debates over the last few weeks have produced cuts that will range from $35–$39billion. While this may not be the ideal situation given that to many $35–39billion is a drop in the bucket compared to what we as a nation have been spending the last two years, let us remember what Boehner and his fellow Republicans were up against and the results they have produced. The Democrats, who right now control half the Legislative and the Executive Branch of our government, where calling for a budget in which there was no spending cuts and even in some cases spending increases.
Yet despite this, Boehner was able to negotiate a settlement where $35–$39billion worth of spending cuts are going to take place in the next six months. I recognize that this may be somewhat of a symbolic victory given the proportion of spending cuts that are taking place, but it is one that should not be simply overlooked. Boehner led his Republicans to threaten a government shutdown over the issue sending a strong message to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the American public that this House intends to get serious about fiscal responsibility. This debate will set the foundation for an even larger one in 2012 that may finally seriously address the issue of out of control government spending and entitlement spending, where hopefully more meaningful spending cuts may be discussed.
While the budget story may be better known, the story that is going largely underreported is the strong pro–life stance taken by Boehner during the waning hours of this debate. Harry Reid stated that the final obstacle between him and Boehner in agreeing on budget was one Reid called an issue of “women’s health” and saw it as somewhat ridiculous that Boehner was risking a government shutdown when they were so close to a settlement on what seemed to him a petty issue. What could have been so important that Boehner would be willing to risk government shutdown and the spending cuts he gained in these tiring weeks of negotiations? What Boehner was trying to block was granting a federal grant entitled “Title X” which would have given $79million to Planned Parenthood, an organization that many conservatives including myself hardly see as bi–partisan.
The Democrats justify this expenditure by saying that by law these funds cannot go to federal abortions. So where does the money go then? According to the Wall Street Journal the Democrats state that this money “provides such services as mammograms and cervical cancer screenings to low–income women.” While noble in intention, why is an organization that delivers a large percentage of abortions in America today doing this? Am I to believe that Planned Parenthood is simply an altruistic political organization that delivers these services to low–income women as simply a side job to stay in business? Doubtful as this may be, why does it have to be Planned Parenthood that organization to deliver these services given its controversial nature?
The Journal again reports the results of this debate: “Republicans had won an agreement to bar the District of Columbia from using locally raised Medicaid funds for abortion. Another Republican demand, that Planned Parenthood of America be stripped of federal funding would be subject to a senate vote.” A small but meaningful victory. Boehner sent a strong and loud message to Senator Reid that this is not some insignificant detail concerning “women’s health” but to us conservatives this is literally a manner of life or death.
Despite having a Senate and Presidency controlled by the opposing party, Boehner helped lead the Republicans in capturing $35–$39billion in spending cuts and a small but significant victory in the area of abortion rights. Furthermore, the government shutdown sent a strong message to the country that this Republican House wants to get serious about fiscal conservatism; serious enough to risk government shutdown. Furthermore, Boehner sent a message to Senator Reid saying that funding Planned Parenthood and associated organizations is not a pretty issue, but one that he is willing to risk government shutdown for. Fiscal conservatives need to congratulate Boehner on his leadership for an issue that made national headlines and may have endangered his political career had the shutdown gone through, while pro–life conservatives need to praise his efforts that did not make as many national headlines on the issue of abortion. I will be the first to do so.
JT Weinroth of Sedalia, Colorado, is CCU’s student government president and a member of the Centennial Institute Program Board