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Sunday, 03 April 2011 20:00

Republicans Look at Defunding the Left

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CongressRepublicans in Congress, especially in the House of Representatives, are working to curtail federal funding to nonprofit organizations that more or less promote the liberal agenda. For example, GOP lawmakers in the House were able to pass an amendment in February to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. However, on March 9, the Senate voted to reject the spending package that included the provision to defund Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has claimed that cutting its funding will reduce mammograms, and yet when Live Action queried Planned Parenthood clinics around the country, the clinics told the Live Action caller that they don't do mammograms. Lila Rose of Live Action observed: “Planned Parenthood is first and foremost an abortion business, but [it] will say almost anything to try and cover that up and preserve its taxpayer funding.” Planned Parenthood was also caught in February providing advice to a man posing as the pimp of an underage girl, including suggestions on how to conceal the sex trafficking. The organization receives $350 million annually from the federal government.

NPR is another sacred cow which is getting a long, cold look from Republican lawmakers. In a recent hidden-camera sting operation — at a luncheon with two supposed "representatives" of a fictitious front for the radical terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organization — two NPR executives were caught making remarks that are stunningly out of synch with the American taxpayers who underwrite their broadcasting. During the luncheon, Senior Vice President Ron Schiller made offensive comments about the Tea Party, and CEO Villian Schiller (no relation) joined her colleague in professing a willingness to accept (and keep secret) a $5 million donation from the two "representatives." Both executives were later forced to resign.

Though NPR has stiffly maintained that only five to six percent of its funds come from the federal government, that is a deceptive figure. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides 10 percent of NPR funding, is almost wholly paid for by the federal government. Public universities — which receive large chunks of their budget from the federal trough — “subscribe” to NPR, providing 14 percent of its funding. State and local government public radio provide much additional help.

Environmental organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife are also facing defunding. That particular group sponsored a more or less direct attack on Governor Palin during the 2008 campaign and, as Senator Jim Inhofe noted at the time, it funneled virtually all its independent campaign activities to helping Democrats defeat Republicans. The League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club have acted in much the same way, in apparent coordination with the Defenders of Wildlife. These groups, which receive federal grants, oppose the Second Amendment and demonize opponents of liberal Democrats.

Senator David Vitter (R-La.) and Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) want to curtail environmental groups' access to a little-known source of federal funding — reimbursement of legal fees for nonprofits that successfully sue the federal government. Groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and Friends of the Earth routinely access these funds.

AARP, which blatantly supported ObamaCare two years ago, has also come under scrutiny by the House Ways and Means Committee, which this week released a 34-page report, “Behind the Veil: The AARP America Doesn’t Know,” explaining how AARP used its offices to push the liberal agenda. No fewer than five different cabinet departments — Housing and Urban Development; Health, Education and Welfare; Justice; Labor; and Treasury — provide funding for AARP.

Michael Steel, in a statement for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), summed up the House leadership position on defunding these organizatons:

Each of these initiatives is designed to save taxpayers’ money or create jobs or help needy children. The goal is better public policy for the American people.  When conservative policy goals are opposed by liberal special interests, our goal is to break their rice bowls.

Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) retorted:

There is a tendency for the Republican majority to demonize their opposition, as they did with Red-baiting in the 1950s or questioning people’s patriotism. These groups are being punished for their views. I don’t see the constructive side of the Republican criticism. It’s been punitive.... They want to stay in power. They don’t want criticism, so they make ad hominem attacks. As with all bullies, they only want silence. They are doing it for their base. Republicans are trying to blackmail the Senate and the president.

The cycle of radical interest groups receiving federal funds and then persuading voters that there is a crisis which only attuned politicians can address, is the source of much waste and political bribery. Their advocacy of liberal causes is protected by First Amendment. But bankrolling that advocacy with taxpayers' money not only has nothing to do with the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech but violates the rights of all Americans who would not themselves fund such advocacy if given a choice.

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