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NATIONAL POLITICS & POLICY | Bush's FY 2009 Budget Proposal Increases Abstinence-Only Funding, Flat Funds Family Planning

NATIONAL POLITICS & POLICY | Bush's FY 2009 Budget Proposal Increases Abstinence-Only Funding, Flat Funds Family Planning
[Feb. 4, 2008]

President Bush's fiscal year 2009 budget proposes to increase spending for abstinence-only education and global health initiatives but would eliminate or reduce spending on other health care programs, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Taylor, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/1). Bush's proposal provides $300 million for the Title X family planning program in FY 2009, the same level as FY 2008.

The proposal also includes level funding requests for the Title V abstinence-only education program and Adolescent Family Life Act programs. However, Bush proposed a $27.7 million funding increase for HHS' Community-Based Abstinence Education Program, which would bring total funding for the program to $137 million. Bush's abstinence education funding requests total $204 million, the same figure he requested in FY 2008 (President's budget, 2/4).

Officials in the Bush administration also said that the proposed budget will include almost $200 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/1). Some lobbyists said that reductions in Medicaid over five years could total about $17 billion under the proposal; however, the total could be much higher because of regulatory and other actions by the Bush administration, CQ Today reports (Reichard, CQ Today, 2/1).

The budget for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief also would increase under the expected budget, the AP/Guardian reports. Bush last week during the State of the Union address urged Congress to authorize a $30 billion, five-year extension of PEPFAR. However, some Democratic lawmakers want to eliminate a spending requirement in the program that mandates that one-third of HIV prevention funds be spent on abstinence-until-marriage programs (Abrams, AP/Guardian, 2/2).

Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council, said Democratic lawmakers are trying to change PEPFAR into an initiative that would promote sex trafficking and fund family planning programs that are involved in providing abortion services. He added, "I don't think that's the legacy the president wants." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the funding requirements "have placed politics above science." Citing a recent Government Accountability Office report, she added that the "administration's abstinence-before-marriage earmark shortchanges the prevention programs that are most effective" (AP/Guardian, 2/2).

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said Bush's proposed budget will be "dead on arrival" in Congress (CQ Today, 2/1).

Bush's FY 2009 budget proposal is available online.