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Budget battles aren’t just fiscal

BY GUEST OPINION | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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While the last-minute budget deal reached onFriday night temporarily avoided a government shutdown, the battle over the federal budget is far from over. Next up will be a debate on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling by May 16, which if not raised could have disastrous effects on the economy. Before that comes into play, the ideological and rhetorical differences between the two parties need to be examined.

The $38.5 billion in cuts won by House Republicans may seem like a blow to the Democrats, but I am still thankful the most ludicrous and socially driven cuts were not accepted. For instance, Planned Parenthood, an essential resource to women, was saved from being defunded in attempt by the Tea Party to let ideology trump numbers.

The Tea Party would like people to believe that this service provides abortions on the taxpayers’ dime, and cutting their funding will help close the nation’s debt. In reality, Planned Parenthood maintains that abortions accounted for only 3 percent of its health services last year — perhaps more importantly, using federal dollars to fund abortions is already illegal.

Planned Parenthood is not only about abortions, it provides integral services like cancer screenings and STD testing to millions of women that cannot afford to receive treatment anywhere else. These services are a necessary part of women’s health and the idea that their $363 million received from the federal government will significantly help reduce the debt is misleading. While any cut does count, and small cuts do add up, the motivation behind this proposal was not fiscal.

There are too many problems in Washington right now to let social issues like abortion get in the way of deciding how to improve our economy. Cuts need to be made, both parties agree on that, but they need to be made efficiently. Defunding an organization that has experienced immense success in helping women out of moral protests should not be a part of the budget discussion.

I know from talking to my friends that many college students disagree with these socially conservative cuts, and I encourage students to contact their legislators and express their opinions.

Posting a link on Facebook helps inform your friends, but it does not help inform the people elected to represent you. If you disagree with their ideas to cut services like AmeriCorps and public broadcasting, tell them. That is the only way to stop ideologically-motivated leaders from cutting vital services.

It is also important to understand that the idea of drastic, shot-term spending cuts will not help the economy as well as one might think. Preventative medical care now saves cost in the future by catching diseases and treating them early. People have a right to social services like health care and education, and these programs that invest in the future actually save money in the long run.

The federal budget needs to reflect a compromise and cooperation between both parties on cuts to wasteful spending. Healthcare to women is not one of them.

Margaret Murphy is the president of the University of Iowa Democrats.


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