Friday, March 31, 2017

A Passel Of Moderates

This is not a post extolling the virtues of Planned Parenthood. It is not about breast exams, HIV testing, cervical cancer screening, sex education, thyroid, diabetes, or high blood pressure screening, and other popular services it provides. It is not about the critical impact of Planned Parenthood in lowering unwanted pregnancies, even among teens, and incidence of HIV. It is not about how only 3% of its services are in providing abortions.

Rather, it pertains to a claim made by Digby in her piece appearing today, March 31, 2017. She writes

On “MTP Daily,” Michael Needham of Heritage Action called the health care bill a disaster, saying, “This is a great opportunity to take a pause and get the policy right and that is what the House Freedom Caucus is doing. Talk about grown-ups, they’re the one who are saying, ‘We want to get the policy right, we’re willing to negotiate,’ and it’s the moderates who say they literally won’t pick up the phone if they call.”

First of all, can we dispense with the idea that any Republican who isn’t a member of the Freedom Caucus is a “moderate”? I’m not sure any House Republicans can be called moderate, but if there are some they represent a very small faction. They’re conservatives. The Freedom Caucus is extremist or, if you want to be polite about it, ultraconservative. The rest are conservatives.

Digby's post did not specifically refer to how

The Senate voted Thursday to let states block federal family planning money from going to Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers. 

Senators approved the Republican legislation 51-50. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote after two GOP senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, voted with Democrats against the measure.

The bill erases a regulation imposed by former President Barack Obama that lets states deny family planning funds to an organization only if it is incapable of providing those services.

Senate approval means the measure will be headed to President Trump, who was expected to sign it. The House voted its consent last month.

In related news, a Quinnipiac University Poll released January 27, 2017 found

In a question with no mention of abortion, American voters oppose 62 - 31 percent cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood. 

After respondents are asked, "If you knew that federal government funding to Planned Parenthood was being used only for non-abortion health issues such as breast cancer screening, would you still favor cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood," the result is 12 percent in favor of cutting funding and 80 percent opposed to a funding cut. 

There are undoubtedly more Americans who realize Planned Parenthood refers for, and sometimes provides, abortions than realize that (extreme circumstances excepted), no federal funding is permitted for abortions (chart below from Planned Parenthood of Michigan via Vox).  Unless people are aware of the latter retriction, it is difficult to determine the breadth and  depth of support for the organiztion.

But, okay: we'll fight with one hand tied behind our back and ignore the 80% to 12%. Even with some people believing Planned Parenthood gets federal funds for providing abortions, twice as many respondents opposed cutting off funding than supported eliminating funding..

Yet, Considering the House and the Senate, 280 members of Congress (plus VP Pence) voted against Planned  Parenthood.  In the House, six Republicans voted against the bill (and one as "present"). In all, eight Republicans voted in favor of the organization.

The congressional vote was a vote for extremism and was opposed by two GOP Senators and less than 3% of its House caucus. Digby was wrong, unreasonable and intolerant when she suggested no House Republican can be considered moderate. Almost 3% can.

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