Planned Parenthood Mar Monte has chosen to honor you as one of their 2011 “Voices for Change”—dubbing you the “Voice for Freedom.” What are the biggest obstacles facing Panned Parenthood today, and how are you working to address them?
I am honored and humbled to be recognized by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and I am equally proud of the work we have done to protect issues of women’s health. But as the last few weeks have shown us, there is still much work to do.
Hidden behind straw man arguments, Republicans have launched a full-on assault on Planned Parenthood and women’s health. They have armed themselves with misguided rhetoric and false information—citing the opposition to the use of federal funds for abortions as the base for cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood. But in reality, not one penny of federal funding is used for abortions. For that reason, I voiced strong opposition to Republican attempts to drag Planned Parenthood and women’s health into a debate about fiscal responsibility.
The bottom line is that for countless women, Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of healthcare. On the Central Coast, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte provides more than 70,000 patient visits a year—for women seeking primary care services that range from cancer screenings to breast exams. If it were not for Planned Parenthood, some women would not know where to turn to for healthcare services.
We have to draw a line on the sand, separate fact from fiction, and push back against misguided and misinformed rhetoric that threatens to discriminately cut off healthcare services for thousands of women on the Central Coast. For that reason, I will continue to stand with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and with women all over the country in support of women’s health.
Considering the recent budget debates and near government shutdown because of lack of compromise, what would your ideal budget for today’s United States look like? If you had your way, how would you change the process of creating a budget?
Our federal budget represents a direct reflection of the ideals and priorities of our nation, and a blueprint of the kind of future we want to build for our children and grandchildren. A federal budget must meet the obligations and expectations of government. And part of our obligation to the American people is to address our long-term fiscal solvency and debt.
But our responsibility also lies in constructing a balanced budget that does not push the economy back into recession, undermines the middle class, or wipes away investments for long-term growth and our nation’s competiveness in the global economy. In addition, a balanced budget must not place the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of seniors and working Americans.
At a time when a vast number of families are still struggling with the effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, it is unjustifiable to cut funding for programs that are helping people makes ends meet—while subsidizing tax breaks for our country’s wealthiest. Therefore, any serious budget that seeks to balance spending and reduce the deficit, must take a balanced approach that also requires corporations and millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.
Fiscal responsibility does not require slashing social programs and public investments that promote economic activity and generate growth. Instead, it requires smart policies for improving the efficiency of healthcare, creating jobs and establishing a fair and honest tax code that does not favor the wealthiest and privileged.
Unfortunately, Republicans seem satisfied with taking the lop-sided approach. If we are to meet our obligation of addressing the national deficit and safeguarding the investments that uphold our American ideals, we need to adopt a budget process that drops partisan politics. The budget process can not be dominated by ideological wars and political games. Because in the end, score keeping and name calling will not produce a budget that builds a stronger America with opportunity and economic security for all.