Lew Stumbles on ‘Meet the Press’

by Patrick Brennan

This week on Meet the Press, both White House chief of staff Jack Lew and Rick Santorum discussed the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, and Lew offered a deceptive excuse for the Democrat Senate’s budget bumbling.

David Gregory asked Lew why Democrats in the Senate hadn’t passed a budget in 1,019 days. Lew offered an entirely incorrect explanation, arguing that the Senate requires 60 votes to pass a budget, and Democrats had been held back by the 41 Republicans’ intransigence. He explained, “there has been Republican opposition to anything that Senate Democrats have tried to do. So it, it is a challenge in the United States Senate to pass legislation when there’s not that willingness to work together.” Unfortunately, Lew is wrong — a Senate budget only requires 51 votes to pass. 

When confronted with the various objections to the Obama administration’s compromise, Lew cited the support of the Catholic Health Association, Catholic Charities, and Planned Parenthood as evidence that the administration had come up with a fair-minded solution. Further, he dismissed the objections of opponents like Santorum by explaining that “there are a lot of conservatives that don’t think that we should guarantee that Americans have access to health insurance. . . . We believe women have a right to all forms of preventive health.”

Later, Gregory expressed some skepticism about Rick Santorum’s assertion that President Obama’s contraception mandate indicates what would be to come in a second term. Santorum rejected the idea that it’s a “secret plan,” arguing, it’s not secret at all. I mean, the president went out and promoted, at the time he was promoting Obamacare, a program of cap and trade where he wants to control and literally control people’s availability to use energy in this country. . . . The president’s agenda is very, very clear. He believes, as someone who’s smarter than everybody else, that they should make decisions for you.”

Gregory also grilled Santorum on some of his statements about social issues, including the role of women in society. Citing a passage about “radical feminists” from the president’s book, he asked Santorum whether he respects the choice of working mothers to emphasize their professional ambitions. Santorum, after citing his own mother as an example of an ambitious working mother, defended himself by saying. “there are a lot working moms out there who did step away from the workforce who feel that their choices are not as respected as those who continue in the workplace. What I said in that book and what I’ve continued to say is we should affirm both choices. They are both very, very important things, and women should have the right to make those choices and should be affirmed completely [whatever] the choice they make.”