The fiscal fight on Capitol Hill has triggered a firestorm of lobbying, as greedy special interests are squealing about a potential loss of handouts.
This USA Today story focuses on funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Planned Parenthood, both of which are whining that the world will come to an end if they can no longer stick their snouts in the public trough.
But it doesn’t matter whether you like watching Sesame Street or what you think about abortion. This is a debate about whether funding those activities in a proper function of the federal government. If we can’t stop mooching in these areas, we may as well surrender now and start learning French or Greek.
Planned Parenthood, public radio stations and scores of other interests are scrambling to make their cases heard on Capitol Hill, hiring new lobbyists, mailing petitions, buying TV ads and, in one case, deploying PBS’ Arthur the Aardvark cartoon character to Congress to rescue the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from budget cutters. A focus of the lobbying free-for-all: a House-passed bill to fund the government through Sept. 30 that would cut $61 billion in federal spending. …The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public radio and television stations, has “outlived its usefulness,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who authored legislation to cut the funding. The corporation is set to receive $430 million this year. “In this day and age, we have 150 cable channels and the Internet over our cellphones,” Lamborn said. “We no longer need a government source of media. This seems to be a natural place to start the discussion about getting our fiscal house in order.” Patrick Butler, head of the Association of Public Television Stations, called the measure a “mortal threat” and said it would do little to reduce this year’s $1.6 trillion federal deficit. …Planned Parenthood receives $330 million annually from Medicaid and the family planning program, spokesman Tait Sye said. Planned Parenthood officials say no federal funds are used for abortions, but opponents say the federal support frees up money to perform the procedure. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., a strong opponent of abortion, pushed the measure. “He doesn’t believe the nation’s largest abortion provider should be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X,” Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd said. …The lobbying frenzy over the budget won’t end soon. President Obama, who threatened to veto the House-passed bill, and congressional leaders are working to negotiate a new spending bill to keep the government running past midnight March 18. Even if they can reach a deal to fund agencies through the Sept. 30 end of the current fiscal year, another confrontation lies ahead — this one over the fiscal year 2012 budget, which Obama sent to Congress last month.