Conservative Review - Yes, Congress Can Defund Planned Parenthood, Leadership is Wrong

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Yes, Congress Can Defund Planned Parenthood, Leadership is Wrong

By: Gaston Mooney | August 5th, 2015

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With the release of each additional video from the Center for Medical Progress, the pressure to defund Planned Parenthood on the upcoming spending bill, aka Continuing Resolution, is growing.

One of the most prevalent excuses emerging from Republican Leadership and other Establishment politicians is that mandatory funding disbursed through Medicaid cannot be touched since the appropriations process can only make changes to discretionary spending, aka appropriated money. And because Planned Parenthood receives funding through Medicaid, a mandatory program, it is impossible to defund the organization.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Medicaid is an unusual mandatory spending program.

A Congressional Research Service report dated February 7, 2014 includes a section on pages 3 and 4 titled “Medicaid and the Federal Budget Process.” In this section it specifically states:

As discussed above, Medicaid is a federal entitlement to states, and in federal budget parlance entitlement spending is categorized as mandatory spending, which is also referred to as direct spending. However, Medicaid is an unusual mandatory spending program. 

While most mandatory spending programs bypass the annual appropriations process and automatically receive funding each year according to either permanent or multi-year appropriations in the substantive law, Medicaid is funded in the annual appropriations acts. For this reason, Medicaid is referred to as an "appropriated entitlement.”

The level of spending for appropriated entitlements, like other entitlements, is based on the benefit and eligibility criteria established in law. The amount of budget authority provided in appropriations acts for Medicaid is based on budget projections for meeting the funding needs of the program. While most changes to the Medicaid program are made through statute, the fact that Medicaid is subject to annual appropriations process provides an opportunity for Congress to place funding limitations on specified activities in Medicaid, including the circumstances under which federal funds can be used to pay for abortions.

The Congressional Research Service agrees that the appropriations process, the upcoming Continuing Resolution, provides an opportunity for Congress to place funding limitations on specific activities on Medicaid, like restricting taxpayer funding for abortion.

Once again we have an emerging excuse from Leadership making them look dishonest at worst, and incompetent at best.

So, again we have an emerging excuse from Leadership making them look dishonest at worst and incompetent at best.

Even if Medicaid wasn’t a unique mandatory program, restrictions could still be placed on the salaries of bureaucrats who administer the program. Checks cannot go out the door to Planned Parenthood without the assistance of bureaucrats. Spending bills start in the House and changes in mandatory spending are routinely made. These changes are commonly called CHiMPS and are included on almost every spending bill. These changes are typically used as budget gimmicks designed to allow for more spending.

However, changes/CHiMPs are rarely used to ratchet back federal spending or advance conservative policy. 

So next time you hear a politician say their hands are tied and they don’t have the power to do anything about the horrors taking place behind the closed doors of Planned Parenthood clinics, you know they are just being a coward.

Gaston Mooney is Executive Editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @gastonmooney

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