Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann …

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I’ve been thinking about your reaction to the IRS announcement that breast pumps are now tax deductible. I would have assumed that for an educated overachiever like you – a business owner, mother of five and a foster mother to more than 20 kids – the news that breast pumps are now tax deductible would be a good thing; like a “stimulus” for working women who want to breastfeed but for whom a $300 breast pump is out of reach. But, no. I was mistaken.

And now I’m puzzled.

I’m still trying to fully understand your response: “I mean, you want to talk about the nanny state? I think you just got a new definition of the nanny.”

I find the use of the term funny, because just the other day I was talking to some friends about the “other” nanny state. You know, the one that doesn’t allow gay people to have the same rights as straight people; the one that defines for the entire country what a “marriage” ought to be. The same nanny state that makes it illegal for terminally ill people, in full use of their mental faculties, to end their lives in a humane way if they so choose. And then taxes them upon their death, regardless of the cause or manner of death.

I digress. You claim the “hard left” is using the tax code for social-engineering purposes and that the government must stop telling people how to run their lives. As soon as I asked myself, out loud, “But how is making a breast pump tax deductible telling people how to run their lives?” I started getting action alerts from conservative women’s groups. They have come out against the deduction, claiming it favors mothers who “decide” to work out of the home. Complicating it further, they’ve brought up the child-care tax credit, saying it “rewards” women who leave the care of their children to daycare facilities and penalizes women who “do the right thing” and stay home and take care of their kids themselves. ¡Ay, ay, ay!

I’m sure there are childless people out there claiming in this precise moment that they are the ones who should be getting a tax break, because they are not contributing to global warming or overcrowded schools by remaining childless, yet they pay for taxes for schools and the like.

I know you personally want to get rid of the tax code and replace it with something simpler (one reason being it’s seven times longer than the Bible!). The problem here is that if you want to make this a partisan issue, you can’t pick and choose which tax deductions are social engineering. I haven’t heard many tea partiers enraged over the tax break for, say, fees paid to “Christian Science practitioners for medical care.” (Too bad I can’t deduct my curandera, or that my mother isn’t getting paid for the countless hours she prays to San Judas Tadeo for my well-being.) And I haven’t heard your complaints over the tax break for NASCAR, which is expected to cost the treasury north of 40 million dollars. Or how about the “other” tax-deductible pump for men with ED?

The thing is, as a former federal tax litigation attorney and a potential presidential candidate, you know better than to make charged statements and unnecessarily politicize breastfeeding any further.

But, then again, perhaps I’m wrong otra vez and you are even smarter than I think. Are feigning ignorance to mobilize and polarize your base? Perhaps follow in Mama Grizzly’s steps?


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