Albert Einstein was no dummy. He called what the House is doing insanity. Let’s cut Boehner and company a little slack and call it the failure to come up with any new ideas on how to get what the party thinks it wants. Does the GOP leadership grasp how badly it will stumble over Planned Parenthood after the House defunding vote goes up in flames?
House defunding vote: the prizes keep getting smaller
Planned Parenthood reaped about $500 million from the states and Federal Government last year.1 That’s not a lot, considering how much of our money is wasted without a second thought. Money isn’t the issue, of course. This is about values and principles the GOP is woefully unable to communicate successfully, despite sweeping statements from Boehner and an assurance that he will “protect the values that we hold dear.”2
Republicans seem to have settled on a diminishing returns strategy after failures to block Obamacare and Homeland Security. If the thought is that the fewer people and less federal money are affected the more likely a positive outcome, they have it all wrong. Making a scene only means they will fall harder when it’s all over.
What is it the GOP wants to do with Planned Parenthood?
Gruesome, barbaric, grisly, horrific, and illegal3,4 are just some of the words the speaker and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have used to support the House defunding vote. McCarthy hinted at a better solution than weathering the PR disaster that even the threat of a shutdown will precipitate:
It is impossible not to be disgusted with what is depicted in these videos. The House has and will continue to investigate Planned Parenthood, especially to uncover any illegal activity regarding infanticide or the sale of body parts.5
Perhaps he should read his own press releases. If something is going on that we know is illegal it should be stopped (see: Value of Life is Decided by Protest and Politics). We don’t need a budget battle or the threat of a shutdown to do that, especially when past failures tell us that neither is likely to succeed.
Planned Parenthood is just a small part of this, of course. Boehner’s statement that ‘Those Who Deny the Weakest Among Us the Right to Life are on the Wrong Side of History’6 does not have a lot to do with the House defunding the organization because it broke the law. It does have a lot to do with reviving a GOP anchor issue using a mechanism that is sure to make the party look bad.
Whether or not contrarian activists feel justified in bullying Boehner’s House into doing something stupid and doomed to fail, useless votes staged solely for the purpose of making a point are theater, not policymaking. The GOP is desperate for a win at any cost because conservative lawmakers have accomplished so little after last year’s victory, an unfortunate pattern that goes back to the Pledge to America.
Too late to stop shutdown threat
Whether or not there is any credible threat of a shutdown scarcely matters now. The word is out and the damage is already being done. Obama used it to the GOP’s detriment in yesterday’s weekly address:
There’s nothing principled about the idea of another government shutdown.7
As much as it hurts to admit it, I can’t disagree.