Democrats gave up quite a bit to Republicans in the budget deal last Friday, but they didn't give up Planned Parenthood subsidies. I wrote my column today about what this tells us about the party's priorities. I recommend you also check out this New York Times piece (via Zaid Jilani on Twitter) reporting on just how firm the President was about protecting the Planned Parenthood subsidies.
Here's the highlight:
At one crucial moment in the game of chicken over a looming shutdown of the United States government, President Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, faced off in the Oval Office. Mr. Boehner, a Republican heavily outnumbered in the room by Democrats, was demanding a provision to restrict financing to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions. Mr. Obama would not budge.
“Nope. Zero,” the president said to the speaker. Mr. Boehner tried again. “Nope. Zero,” Mr. Obama repeated. “John, this is it.” A long silence followed, said one participant in the meeting. “It was just like an awkward, ‘O.K., well, what do you do now?’ ”
That meeting broke without an agreement. But while Mr. Obama may have held tough on the abortion provision, he and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, had already made a broader concession — agreeing to tens of billions of dollars in spending cuts
My column didn't explore why the abortion lobby is so important to the Democrats. Michael Barone gave his account earlier today:
For many gray-haired feminists, of the baby boom generation or older, the abortion issue is emotionally important; “choice” is a proxy for the choices they have made in their personal and professional lives which are different from the choices they were expected to make when they were growing up. As Carney writes, these people want Planned Parenthood to have enough government money to keep performing lots of abortions, but I think that even more than that they want federal funding as an imprimatur of approval; they want not just money but honor for their cause. That’s why you have an experienced Democrat like former House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter saying the Republicans want to “kill women.”