Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Two Mints In One

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) opens its three day bash this weekend, thereby signaling the opening of the 2012 election campaign for Republicans. It's quite interesting to see who's attending and who's not.

The three-day gathering of the Conservative Political Action Committee, which begins Thursday with more than 10,000 activists expected to convene in Washington, effectively rings the opening bell for the Republican presidential nominating contest. ...

The event, which has been held every winter for nearly four decades, is seen as such a command performance this year that Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and John Thune are among those who accepted invitations. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee have both declined, citing scheduling conflicts.

It's also interesting who's boycotting and why.

The Conservative Political Action Conference also is opening against a backdrop of controversy over whether a gay Republican group should have been allowed to help sponsor the event. The Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation are among the organizations boycotting the conference because GOProud, the gay group, is participating.

The disagreement highlights the tensions among various conservative factions and raises questions about the balance between the social and fiscal priorities of Republicans that has already become part of the debate in early-voting states like Iowa, where the state’s precinct caucuses are scheduled to open the nominating contest next Feb. 6.

The mantra for Republicans in the current Congress is "fiscal conservatism." That's what they think got them elected and, by golly, they're going to ride with it. Still, even they must sense the tension from their basest base, so they've gotten tricksie with their latest proposals, especially in the House (which they control). Yes, it's about the fiscal policy, but it's also about the social. They've found a way to combine them.

One bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services. ...

Another bill, sponsored by Mr. Pitts, addresses the health care overhaul head-on by prohibiting Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. ...

The GOP has decided to run hard to the right, and they're going to do so on the backs of women. Now that's a really interesting choice. The question is, what are the Democrats going to do about it?



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