Ok – I know many nouveau conservatives have a visceral reaction to the word “compromise” but I have a news flash for you – COMPROMISE – is how governing happens. Smart compromise allows all parties to leave the negotiation without feeling like they’ve been taken to the cleaners. Strategic compromise takes the concept to a whole ‘nuther level that leaves the other guy accepting what he asked for, but maybe in not quite the way he anticipated receiving it.
Let me share an example of how this might work as the Montana Senate grapples with HB2. One of the most controversial issues facing the Republican majority is the Democrats’ passionate commitment to the Title X funding for women’s healthcare. Because the current proposal calls for the money to go to Planned Parenthood, the fiscal and social conservatives are united in their equally passionate opposition to the idea. Which means that the Republicans can win this struggle – but they would end up being vulnerable to the Democrats’ “War on Women” charge – which, as we saw last November, is a fairly potent weapon. This is shaping up to be THE issue that could blow up the whole session.
The requested appropriation is for $4.5 million dollars for the biennium to fund such things as contraception, mammograms, PAP tests, and other “female plumbing” care. This amounts to about $35 per year for the 66,000 Montana women who currently live below the poverty level. The liberals have crossed their hearts – hope to die, stick a needle in my eye – that not one penny will be spent for abortions. But the Pro-Life lobby just has a real problem believing that money sent to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider will only be used for approved services.
I suggest the Republicans agree to fund the full amount, but offer it in the form of vouchers issued directly to eligible women that can be redeemed for allowable services or products through county health departments, licensed physicians, or pharmacies. This has the added benefit of providing this important care to women all over the state – not just those in Billings, Great Falls, Missoula, and Helena where PP is located.
Seems pretty much a win-win proposition to me. The Republican majority gives the Democrat minority the full amount they’re asking for, but changes the recipient from an organization the conservative voters generally find distasteful to the actual persons who need the assistance and will use the funding only for the uses intended.
Are the Democrats so tied to Planned Parenthood that they can walk away from millions of dollars in funding for women’s healthcare? Would the governor be willing to veto that line item?
Might be worth finding out…