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1:43pm

Thu May 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats Keep Getting Dinged For Hitting GOP On Women's Health, Loans

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 2:00 pm

Democrats keep getting dinged by media fact checkers for attacking Republicans for allegedly wanting to strip money from preventive health programs to pay for to keep the interest rates on some student loans from doubling this summer.

But that hasn't stopped progressives from continuing to make the claim. The latest comes in a new full-page MoveOn.org ad in Politico. The ad reads in part:

"Student loan rates double July 1, yet Republicans in Congress say they'll only keep rates low if they cur funding for women's health..."

The same charge has been repeatedly made by Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats who have made the allegation part of their larger claim that Republicans are waging a "war on women." (Republicans have retorted that it's been President Obama waging a "war on women" because women workers have lost more jobs than men during his time in the White House. That's another story, however.)

But, again, fact checkers have questioned the Democratic attack linking student-loan interest rates to women's health. NPR's very own health-care correspondent, Julie Rovner, recently wrote that Democrats are playing fast and loose on this one.

As she wrote on Tuesday on our sister blog Shots, the preventive health program that whose funding would be cut to pay for the student-loan program funds not just for women's but men's health programs, too.

"Clearly going after the program is part of the GOP effort to defund the 2010 health law, which they despise. But part of a war on women? Not so much."

On Wednesday FactCheck.org, produced by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, made a similar finding.

"Republicans are right: The White House is greatly exaggerating when it says that 'women, in particular,' benefit from a prevention fund that the House GOP proposes to repeal. The truth is that the fund in question wasn't set up specifically for women's health programs, and we could find no concrete evidence that it has paid anything to gender-specific health programs so far."

Thursday brought a tsk-tsk aimed at Democrats, particularly at Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader and former speaker, from the Washington Post's Glen Kessler.

"Pelosi could have raised concerns about perceived cuts in preventive health. She could have also noted that women benefit greatly from such efforts. But she — and fellow Democrats — went too far to label this 'an assault on women's health.' Maybe evidence of that will emerge through the regular appropriations process—at which point we could revisit this ruling — but for the moment this smacks of political opportunism."

Which is not to say, of course, that both sides aren't guilty of it. But it is worth noting especially high-profile examples of the art form when they occur.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.