On the surface, the budget battle in D.C. is about spending cuts. But the single remaining sticking point, which might ultimately lead to a government shutdown at midnight tonight, is the policy on funding for Planned Parenthood. The total federal budget is $3,820,000,000,000. The funding for Planned Parenthood amounts to a mere $75 million. In other words, Dems and Republicans are arguing about a fraction of one percent of the overall budget. The funds in question can not, by law, be used for abortions, but many people say abortion is the real issue here. This leads us to wonder if it’s ever possible to have a reasonable discussion about abortion, or if this is one issue people simply can’t agree to disagree about. Why is the GOP targeting Planned Parenthood? Have the culture wars eclipsed the budget debate? Are Americans as divided on the issue of abortion as the activists and politicos would have us believe?
John Avlon, Senior Political Columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast; co-founder of No Labels, a group aimed at curbing political partisanship