Planned Parenthood: Do Taxpayers have a Choice?

It’s appropriations season in Congress which means we’ll soon be discussing whether taxpayers should be funding Planned Parenthood.  In what may be a side story to that debate, news broke Monday that defenders of the organization are trying (in same cases successfully) to influence search engine results to obscure pro-life alternatives to Planned Parenthood:

NARAL Pro-Choice America wants to protect a woman’s right to choose. They just don’t want women to know about all the options available to them.  In the name of “choice,” NARAL Pro-Choice America has lobbied Google to take down ads on its site for crisis pregnancy centers …

There are approximately 2,200 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States according to Students for Life of America. Unlike abortion giant Planned Parenthood, the centers do not charge for any of their services. More than 90 percent of total funding for the crisis pregnancy centers is from private, non-governmental sources. The left has decried the government’s minor role in funding these centers, while dismissing, or celebrating, the fact that 45 percent of Planned Parenthood’s revenue in 2013 — $540.6 million — came in the form of taxpayer-funded government health services grants.

Read the whole thing here.

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Room to Fight within the Omnibus

December’s Ryan-Murray budget deal was a bad deal for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons was that it set discretionary spending limit for Fiscal Year 2014 ($1.012 trillion) a full $45 billion above the level that would have been required by sequestration ($967 billion). While the budget number represents a spending limit, meaning Congress can (and should) spend well below that number in upcoming appropriations, there are policy provisions the House should be demanding in negotiations right now as part of any omnibus package of appropriations bills regardless of the ultimate top-line number.

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Congress Can Eliminate These Wasteful Programs Saving Taxpayers Billions

Were you aware that your taxpayer money is used to fund a pet-shampoo company?  It is.

We’re not kidding.  How, you ask?  The funds are channeled through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to a pet-shampoo company.  Why?  That’s an even better question.

But that’s not the only problem with the CDBG program.  It also issues risky business loans and duplicates other housing and economic development programs, wasting $3.1 billion in the process.

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Budgeting and Appropriating: A Prism Through Which A Philosophy of Governing Shines

Now that Congress has agreed on a budget deal, the next step in the process is to appropriate the funds for various programs, from agriculture to transportation.  The outcome of this process will be about more than just numbers.

Indeed, according the the House of Representatives, the budget is more than just a bunch of numbers:

The budget resolution is the only legislative vehicle that views government comprehensively. It provides the framework for the consideration of other legislation. Ultimately, a budget is much more than series of numbers. It also serves as an expression of Congress’s principles, vision, and philosophy of governing.

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Violating the Sequester: A Congressional Blueprint

Even before the infamous sequester, the sequence of congressional appropriations measures held tremendous significance.  By passing the defense appropriations bill last, big-government lawmakers could typically increase spending on the 11 other measures above their allocations while knowing the legislative and executive branches would never squeeze defense spending to fit within the overall discretionary spending target.

While different in a post-sequester world, sequencing is even more important to big-government lawmakers determined to violate the discretionary spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the failure of the so-called super committee.

This delicate dance began in earnest this week.  CQ Roll Call (sub. req’d) reported:

Appropriators approved the bill (HR 2216) by voice vote [in committee in May], and there is expected to be broad support for it in the chamber.  …  The largely bipartisan Military Construction-[Veterans’ Affairs] bill would provide $152.8 billion, including $73.3 billion for discretionary spending, a $1.4 billion increase over the fiscal 2013 enacted level and $2.4 billion more than that level after the sequester.  The across-the-board cuts affected military construction accounts but not veterans’ spending.  (emphasis added)

Because of the sequester, the discretionary spending cap for FY14 is lower than the FY13 cap.  If appropriations for MilCon-VA increase as total discretionary spending decreases, other appropriations measures will have to be reduced by even more.

If this is a good faith effort to reallocate and prioritize federal spending, subsequent appropriations bills brought before the House will follow the levels outlined in the chart below.

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