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February 4, 2008

Why is America Ready for Change?

Check Out the Bush Budget

Washington, DC—Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2009 budget released today a reminder that, although Americans have largely tuned out this president, he continues to undermine women's reproductive health and neglect the nation's priorities.

"Bush's misguided budget proposals just reinforce why Americans are universally calling for change," Keenan said. "If there is a silver lining to the Bush budget, however, it's that it is his last one. President Bush once again puts a rigid ideological agenda first and rejects commonsense ways to help address our country's greatest challenges."

Key components of President Bush's budget affecting reproductive health-care include:

  • The president recommends level-funding the Title X family-planning program, as he has every year. It now seems obvious that he intended all along to starve the program through financial neglect.
  • Throughout the president's budget, he slashes funding for many health programs, and eliminates some altogether - such as the Prevention Block Grant and Health Professions programs. As justification, President Bush says that targeted programs are "not based on evidence-based practices" and, in another case, that "evaluations have found these activities do not have a demonstrated impact." We recommend the president apply these same standards to his "abstinence-only" account, which is slated for another huge increase of $28 million. Study after study has shown these programs to be ineffective at best, and in some cases actually counterproductive.
  • The president recommends a devastating cut of more than 25 percent to the USAID family-planning program. If the president were truly interested in reducing the need for abortion, as he claims, he would hardly be cutting funds for contraception.
  • The president includes a nominal recommendation of $25 million for the U.N. family-planning program; however, he has cancelled this appropriation for each of the last six years, and we expect FY'09 will be no different.

As the budget process begins again, Keenan commended congressional leadership for standing up against Bush's dangerous proposals last year. The final budget bill for FY'08 included a $22 million increase for Title X, the nation's family-planning program, one of the largest increases in the program's history. The final spending bill also level-funded Bush's so-called "abstinence-only" programs, at $178 million – denying his FY '08 budget request for a massive increase for these discredited programs

"Under new leadership, Congress made progress last year, so I am confident that lawmakers will stand up to the president once again," Keenan said. "Even though many Americans want to close the book on this disastrous administration, this budget illustrates how, if left unchecked, President Bush can use the government's resources to undermine women's freedom and privacy and hand out favors to his far-right political base."

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