Cutting Planned Parenthood Funding Could Cost Taxpayers $130 Million
Policy + Politics

Cutting Planned Parenthood Funding Could Cost Taxpayers $130 Million

© Lucas Jackson / Reuters

It’s not as if Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other congressional Tea Party conservatives care much about this, but their efforts to slash funding for Planned Parenthood could cost taxpayers millions.

The Congressional Budget Office informed the House Republican leadership this week that permanently defunding Planned Parenthood would end up costing the government $130 million over the coming decade, largely because it would result in more unplanned pregnancies and births as some low-income women lose access to contraception and family planning services provided by the beleaguered health care organization. And those unwanted pregnancies and births would put added pressure on federal social services.

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While the cut in federal subsidies to the organization would save $520 million in the short-term, according to CBO, the overall cost to the government would increase to $650 million over the coming decade – or a net increase of $130 million. As part of its analysis, CBO took into account Republican proposals to redistribute the Planned Parenthood funds to other health providers that don’t offer abortion services.

With only a week remaining before the start of a new fiscal year, Cruz and a band of House conservatives are pressuring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other leaders to confront President Obama and the Democrats on an array of issues, including striking Planned Parenthood funding from a short-term continuing resolution to avert another government shutdown.

“The Administration urges the Congress to pass full-year appropriations legislation for FY 2016 that excludes ideological provisions that are intended to advance a narrow political agenda, reverses sequestration for defense and non-defense priorities, and makes critical investments needed to support national security and sustain economic growth,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement issued on Thursday.

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The women’s health care group has come under withering conservative fire following the posting of a series of video secretly taped by an anti-abortion group showing Planned Parenthood officials cavalierly discussing handling and selling aborted fetal tissue and body parts. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and other GOP presidential candidates have blasted Planned Parenthood’s practices and called for an end to federal funding for the group.

Several dozen right wing Republicans in the House have frequently voiced displeasure with Boehner’s leadership and have threatened to oust him unless he supports their efforts to block Planned Parenthood funding. Once again, Cruz, the freshman Texas firebrand and presidential candidate who helped foment the October 2013 government shutdown over Obamacare funding, is threatening to block passage of a bill to keep the government operating unless Planned Parenthood funding is stripped from it.

Cruz has invited House Tea Party conservatives to plan strategy for another confrontation with President Obama, according to The Hill. Obama has vowed to veto any government-spending bill that includes the prohibition on Planned Parenthood spending.

“President Obama’s position is that if Congress funds 100 percent of the government that he will nonetheless veto funding for the government unless Congress also gives $500 million to Planned Parenthood,” Cruz told reporters, noting that Planned Parenthood is not an agency of government and is currently under investigation by Congress. “That is a radical and extreme proposition.”

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During a speech on Tuesday, Cruz accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Boehner of capitulating to the Obama administration by preparing to move a spending bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. McConnell has repeatedly vowed to prevent another government shutdown. Moderate Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have argued that it is political insanity for Republicans to trigger another government crisis when they lack the votes to prevail. Right now, the Senate Republicans lack the 60 votes needed to push through a prohibition on Planned Parenthood funding or the two-thirds majority they would need to override a veto.

The administration and independent financial experts estimated that the 16-day government shutdown two years ago cost the economy billions of dollars and seriously disrupted government services to millions of Americans and business activities.

With no way of knowing whether Congress can overcome the current crisis, the administration has ordered agencies to begin preparing for the worst, according to The Washington Post. That would mean, among other things, preparing to shutter Yellowstone National Park and 407 other federal parks across the country; furloughing of hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal workers; cutting back Social Security Administration services and curtailing the activities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.