Nov 8, 2011

By Chelsea Hetelson

On Sept. 15, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) of Ocala, the chair of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, drew national attention when he challenged Planned Parenthood once again on its spending. Stearns launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s financial records, requesting documents that go back 12 years from locations across the country.

Many, including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the senior Democrat of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), the ranking member of Stearns’ subcommittee, accuse Stearns of having no “predicate that would justify a sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood [who had] not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation.” However, Stearns is still hung up on the now infamous “other money” riddle.

“Although Planned Parenthood is barred from using federal funds to perform abortions, these funds are fungible and allow the group to use funds from other sources ostensibly for abortions,” Stearns said in a statement.

Stearns is not only looking out for the well-being of federal money already spent but also for money in the future.

“With a national debt exceeding $14 trillion, funding of Planned Parenthood should be evaluated with other expenditures to reduce the deficit,” Stearns added.

In Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year of 2007-2008, according to their annual report, they received $363.2 million in government grants, which represents about a third of Planned Parenthood’s annual income.

Stearns has also been making headlines with his new investigation into federal loans totaling $535 million made to Solyndra, a failed California-based solar panel manufacturer. This September they filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 workers.

Stearns was quoted as saying the U.S. can’t compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines. When called out directly by President Obama on this statement, Stearns clarified he was referring to cheap labor.

“We should invest in and provide incentives to companies that can exploit our competitive advantage in technology and innovation [...] and not subsidize industries when these other nations have cheaper labor, no environmental or safety standards, less regulation and easy access to raw materials,” Stearns said.

Why waste U.S. money on American workers and companies that actually manufacture a product in the U.S. when it can be done more cheaply in China by exploited underpaid workers in unregulated conditions? What we should really be investing in is developing new technology.

Technology research and development definitely deserve federal funding, especially when it’s for health care for mothers and children, Head Start day care, public education and investing in American companies and laborers. Who these technologists will be in the future, what with a bunch of sick, under-supervised and under-educated children running around these days, is still unknown.

Stearns represents Florida’s Sixth Congressional District, which include parts of Gainesville and Ocala.

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