Owning By Proxy
Last night, Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad, who like to fancy themselves fiscal conservatives and whose entire rhetoric about health care has concerned "bending the cost curve" and reducing the price tag in the bill, joined with Republicans to hand up to $250 million dollars to states to teach children that sex is icky.
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday night approved an amendment providing tens of millions of dollars to fund abstinence education programs for teens.
The proposal, offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would provide $50 million per year through 2014 exclusively for abstinence education programs. The measure would effectively reinstate the controversial Title V program, which offered $50 million per year to states for abstinence education, but prohibited them from tapping the funds for other sex-ed subjects like contraception. The same prohibition would accompany the Hatch amendment. “Abstinence education works,” the Utah Republican said.
The vote was 12 to 11, with Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) voting with every Republican to secure passage of the measure.
Abstinence education doesn't work, this California Democrat says, backed up by every study ever done on the subject, including a 6-year study authorized by Congress that published in 2007. Even Max frickin' Baucus agrees, and his competing amendment on comprehensive sex ed, which also passed, wouldn't fund programs that were in his words "ineffective." Suzy Khimm has more on this.
I'm sure that giving in to Republican fears about liberated women, whether through this measure or trying to gut reproductive coverage in private insurance plans (thankfully, that amendment did fail in the Finance Committee today), will cause members of the party who don't think women should have the right to vote to flip on the bill and offer their support, right? We're just so close to consensus, and if we can just add to that 80% agreement with selling out women and futilely indoctrinating children to abstinence, we can all sing kumbaya and have a bill everyone can support, right?
Wrong. Republicans like Orrin Hatch will ask for concession after concession and offer nothing themselves. That's because they know that stooges like Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad will end up agreeing with them anyway, so there's no need to take ownership of the bill when you can own it by proxy.
Slightly off-topic, but this is a great story about 1,100 religious left leaders calling abortion "a moral decision" and demanding that women's rights not be sacrificed in the health care debate.