They say that politics makes strange bedfellows and nowhere is that more true than the unlikely alliance between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and self-identified democratic socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The two, who are polar opposites in almost every way have indicated their agreement on a bill to prohibit former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists and now seem to have found common ground on birth control.
Cruz reached out to AOC yesterday on Twitter after the New York leftist tweeted that birth control should be available over the counter. Cruz responded that he agreed and offered to team up on a “simple, clean bill” that would make birth control available without a prescription. At press time, AOC had not yet publicly responded to Cruz’s offer.
Making birth control more readily available is an idea that makes sense. Over recent decades, out-of-wedlock births in the United States have risen dramatically. The CDC reports that births to unwed mothers now account for almost 40 percent of births. The unmarried birth rate for women under 44 is slightly higher than 40 percent.
The reason that the government and taxpayers should care about the unmarried birth rate is that when an unmarried parent raises children, the family often qualifies for federal benefits. The growth in the entitlement state driven by single-parent families contributes to both the increasing federal deficit and the increasing American dependence on the government. Children raised in single-parent households are also more likely to have a variety of bad outcomes such as becoming a juvenile delinquent, poor performance in school, abuse alcohol or drugs, and becoming a single parent themselves.
Although the Census Bureau reported in 2016 that the majority of American children live in two-parent families, the share of children in two-parent households has fallen by about 20 points since 1960. About 23 percent of American kids live in a single-parent household headed by their mother. Of the children in two-parent households, about 99 percent live in homes where the parents are married.
The hope is that if birth control is more readily available then fewer parents will choose to have children before getting married. If birth control is available and used consistently, it might also help to reduce the number of abortions. The most common reasons given for abortion all revolve around the mother’s belief that she is not ready to have a child, i.e. abortion is being used in lieu of birth control.
One of the biggest potential problems with the increased availability of cheap birth control is that the US birth rate is already too low. The birth rate has been declining for several years and is already below the level at which the current population will replace itself. The coming population decline could have negative effects on everything from economic growth to maintaining America’s global dominance.
There might be more problems with the legalization of OTC birth control from AOC’s side of the aisle. Reason Magazine described earlier this year how, despite years of usage and research that prove the safety of birth control medications, Democrats and Planned Parenthood started resisting the idea of cheap, OTC contraception just as Republicans were warming to the idea.
This isn’t the first time that Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez have teamed up. The two have previously worked together to push for a ban on former congressmen becoming lobbyists. As with birth control, the roots of the congressional lobbying ban idea came from Twitter with Cruz responding to an AOC tweet. So far, the duo has not presented legislation to Congress.
As a conservative, I have more problems with a ban on lobbying than with cheap contraception. Even though lobbyists are never popular with voters, the profession is specifically protected by the First Amendment on two grounds. First, lobbyists enjoy the same free speech rights as other citizens and, second, the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is also included at the forefront of the Bill of Rights.
Nevertheless, I do applaud Cruz and AOC for having the courage to reach across the aisle in an environment where compromise is considered to be toxic by many. For Cruz’s part, it represents a significant departure from his “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude seen in the 2013 government shutdown. His compromises with AOC may mean that the Texas senator is maturing as a legislator.
The truth is that compromise is the only way to get things done in Washington. That’s not a bug either. It’s a feature that the framers built into the Constitution to prevent a tyranny of the majority. The authors of the Constitution wanted Americans to work together to solve their problems and make the country better, not simply denounce the other side as traitors or criminals and issue Executive Orders or national emergencies.
Originally published on The Resurgent