The Republican Party's unrelenting war on women is now being waged with such frenzied fury that sane people might well wonder if there is a GOP-wide obsession with punishing an entire gender.
The latest example: passage in the US House of Representatives of the falsely titled No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Of course, there is already a longstanding ban using of public funds to pay for abortions, which is a disgrace in itself. This new bill actually seeks to discourage private health insurers from covering abortion.
It would do this by making insurance plans that offer such coverage ineligible for small-business tax credits — in effect, the GOP wants to impose a new tax on private businesses that provide their employees the option of abortion coverage in their health plan.
The levels of hypocrisy on display from the Republicans are staggering (disappointingly, 16 Democrats joined them). This is the party that howls against raising taxes; adding complications to the tax code; "nanny state" attempts to direct behavior; and, above all, any attempt to insert government regulations into private business conduct — willing to flout all of these principles in its zeal to have its way with every uterus in America.
There are even more outrages tucked into this bill, including stunningly intrusive provisions preventing the use of private medical-savings accounts to pay for abortions.
This is not the party of fiscal discipline, or of personal liberty. Republicans have shown, as in the recent budget showdown over the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, that absolutely nothing — except perhaps preventing same-sex marriage and constitutional equality for the LGBT community — is more important to them than preventing women from controlling the health and care of their own bodies.
AUDITING THE AUDITOR
The peer-review report released by State Auditor Suzanne Bump last week would be funny if it wasn't so serious: the office constitutionally responsible for rooting out governmental waste, fraud, and abuse was itself so riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse that it was functionally incapable of performing its task — least of all on itself. Auditor's offices are advised to be peer-reviewed every three years; this one had gone 15.
Give credit to Bump for not only initiating the review upon taking office this January, but also quickly publicizing and acting upon its uncomfortable findings — even though doing so was a public humiliation for her predecessor, Joe DeNucci, whose endorsement helped her win the office.
DeNucci, old-school pol that he is, blasted Bump, implying that she owed it to him and his incompetent hack employees to avert her eyes.
Kudos to Bump, and good luck turning that troubled office around. We endorsed her in the belief that she would act as an independent watchdog. She's off to a good start.
Kudos this week also to Governor Deval Patrick and his team, who rolled out a major youth-violence initiative that just might begin to bring a statewide, multi-disciplinary approach to this intractable problem.
The most controversial piece of the plan would give Attorney General Martha Coakley stronger gun- and gang-fighting tools.
Other aspects of the initiative would encourage cooperation between the state and its municipalities, and among the many public and private entities that play a role with young people and their environments.