U.S. Sen. Dean Heller made news this morning when he came out against the Republican health care reform bill being debated in the Senate, saying it would hurt millions in America and thousands in Nevada who are newly eligible for Medicaid.
But he said something else that was downright … mystifying.
Heller has already gotten himself in trouble with respect to Planned Parenthood, telling a Reno town hall audience that “I will protect Planned Parenthood,” and that “I have no problems with federal funding for Planned Parenthood.” His spokeswoman, Megan Taylor, quickly told reporters that Heller actually does have a problem with Planned Parenthood and does not support federal funding for the group.
Hey, it happens.
But on Friday, something even weirder happened. Asked at a news conference by liberal blogger Andrew Davey whether he’d support a health-care repeal bill that cuts funding to Planned Parenthood, Heller tried gamely to clarify his position:
“Here’s my position: I want to just be very clear,” Heller said. “I do not have a beef with Planned Parenthood. I’m not opposed to Planned Parenthood. What I’m opposed to is any group or organization or clinic, regardless of who they are, if they receive federal funds and perform abortions. That’s my position.”
But just one thing.
Planned Parenthood receives federal funds.
And Planned Parenthood performs abortions. (The group doesn’t use federal funds for abortion services, however; that’s illegal.)
But Heller just said he’s not opposed to Planned Parenthood?!
Heller’s comment is the equivalent of a person saying, “Look, I do not have a problem with McDonald’s. I’m not opposed to McDonald’s. What I’m opposed to is any group or organization or restaurant that regularly sells hamburgers. That’s my position.”
Or maybe this: “I have no beef with fossil fuels. I’m not opposed to fossil fuels. What I’m opposed to is any group or organization or corporation that manufactures internal-combustion engines that burn fossil fuels. That’s my position.”
I could go on. But you get the idea.
So where does Heller actually stand? That becomes more of a mystery every time he speaks. But I refer once again to Taylor’s April explanation following the do/don’t incident at the Reno town hall: “While he [Heller] doesn’t have a problem with many of the health care services Planned Parenthood offers to women, he is opposed to providing federal funding to any organization that performs abortions and is supported by taxpayer dollars; he has a long record that reflects his position.”
That’s clear enough. So, maybe, the next time somebody asks Heller if he’ll support a bill that cuts federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he should just say “yes”?
That seems like it would save everybody some time.