The Planned Parenthood Gambit

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 8 2011 12:51 PM

The Planned Parenthood Gambit

At 11 a.m., Harry Reid went to the floor of the Senate and claimed, not for the first time, that the only remaining stumbling block in the budget debate was the rider -- included in the long-term CR, not the DOA stopgap bill -- that would ban federal funds going to Planned Parenthood.

"Why are we talking about whether women can keep getting something as simple and non-controversial as a cancer screening?" asked Reid. "The answer is that Republicans want to shut down our nation's government because they want it to make it harder for women to get the health services they need."

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Reid was adamant: This was the only issue gumming things up.

"We agreed in the White House last night to make significant cuts. Hard but important. But now, the Tea Party, among others, but they're the biggest push, is trying to move their extreme social agenda, issues that have nothing to do with funding the government. They're willing, it appears, to throw women under the bus."

Is this true? It's not what John Boehner is saying. But it's interesting that Democrats are picking the battle. When Live Action released its sting videos, they gave Mike Pence a new reason to introduce a rider banning federal funds for Planned Parenthood. But I argued that the sting was still mostly a bust, because it didn't move any Democrats who weren't already opposed to abortion. Unlike the ACORN sting, it didn't toxify its target. Democrats wouldn't be setting this up, and arguing that Republicans are trying to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, if they thought the group was politically difficult to defend.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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