Contraceptives part of proposed stimulus package
At issue in the House's version of the proposed $825 billion package is a provision that would result in a significant expansion of federal matching funds for state Medicaid "family planning" services, which encompasses contraceptives. Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the expansion would cost more than $200 million. Other estimates have put the figure higher.
"How is this going to fix an ailing economy?" he asked.
Boehner's office began criticizing that particular part of the stimulus package days earlier after Republican leaders met with President Obama at the White House. "I'm concerned about the size of the package," he said after the meeting. "And I'm concerned about some of the spending that's in there -- how you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives."
On the same day of the White House meeting Boehner's office issued a statement further criticizing the package's contraceptive provision.
"Regardless of where anyone stands on taxpayer funding for contraceptives and the abortion industry, there is no doubt that this once little-known provision in the congressional Democrats’ spending plan has NOTHING to do with stimulating the economy and creating more American jobs," the statement read.
But Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appearing on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," defended the stimulus package.
"The family planning services reduce cost," she said. "One of the elements of this package is assistance to the states. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. … The contraception [initiative] will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."
Boehner issued a statement in response, saying, "The Speaker’s comments illustrate the degree to which congressional Democrats have taken President Obama's initial vision of a package focused on immediate job creation and fast-acting tax relief and turned it into just another bloated, unfocused, wasteful Washington spending bill."
James Pethokoukis, assistant managing editor of U.S. News & World Report's money & business section, also criticized Pelosi's comments.
"This is wrong on so many levels," he wrote on the magazine's blog, "one of which is looking at children born to the 'wrong people' as economic burdens rather [than] gifts, the music makers, the dreamers of dreams. She sees them as a cost instead of blessed benefits. Wow."
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press.