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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Texas Republicans learn that some spending cuts are just way too expensive

Texas Tribune:

The fight to restore family planning financing that was cut from the Texas budget in the last legislative session has taken a turn toward primary care. Republican state senators have proposed adding $100 million to a state-run primary care program specifically for women’s health services, an effort that would help avoid a political fight over subsidizing specialty family planning clinics.

“It’s a much better way to treat the women because they don’t just have family planning issues,” said Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, a family physician who has advocated for increasing primary care services for women.

Using taxpayer dollars to finance family planning services has become politically thorny in Texas, largely because of Republican lawmakers’ assertions that the women’s health clinics providing that care were affiliated with abortion providers. In the fiscal crunch of 2011, the Legislature cut the state’s family planning budget by two-thirds, with some lawmakers claiming that they were defunding the “abortion industry.” Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that more than 50 family planning clinics closed statewide as a result of lost financing.

Now, amid estimates that the cuts could lead to 24,000 additional births in 2014-15 at a cost to taxpayers of $273 million, lawmakers are seeking a bipartisan solution to restore financing without ruffling feathers.

Of course, what’s actually happening here is that they’re looking at restoring family planning funding, but putting it under primary care services in hopes of keeping the anti-family planning religious nutjobs from noticing a retreat from their extremist position. After gutting Planned Parenthood funding, Texas is facing a public reproductive healthcare crisis — in the form of a wave of unplanned pregnancies. You really didn’t need a crystal ball to see that one coming. It’s obvious and it’s exactly what critics of the move predicted would happen.

But, in addition to showing how the GOP War on Women is boneheaded and wrong, it also shows that some spending is cheaper than the consequence of cutting that spending. It may cost a lot to keep a dam in good repair, but it’ll cost a lot more if the dam gives way. This is the same principle. You spend money now to make sure women have access to adequate reproductive health care or you pay later for the increased health spending and poverty that comes with unexpected pregnancies. I don’t care how many times you say, “But the Bible says…” you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Long story short, when a liberal talks about investing in America’s future, we’re not just spreading horse manure — we really do mean making investments in America’s future. You either deal with problems now or spend one helluva lot more money dealing with them later. And, of course, by dealing with it now, you avoid a whole lot of screwed up lives and futures.

Contrary to the rightwing stereotype, liberals aren’t about spending taxpayer money because of some hippy-dippy “Oooh, we gotta all love each other, baby” stuff. This is hardheaded realism. It’s the people who think we can cut everything and anything who are the head-in-the-clouds dreamers. Don’t want to pay taxes to support family planning? Sucks to be you, but you’re going to do it. Because this is America and in America we try do what’s in America’s best interests. I pay for nuclear weapons I hate, you can at least pay for some birth control. You’re not special.

If the Texas retreat from the extremist position teaches us anything, it’s that Republican claims to fiscal genius aren’t just ridiculous, they’re hilarious.

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