Like last time around, Tuesday's Planned Parenthood hearing has been pure spectacle. Absent any evidence of wrongdoing—another state just closed its investigation into the family planning provider after finding no evidence that it mishandled fetal tissue donation or engaged in criminal activity—House Republicans have spent the better part of the last three hours grandstanding on abortion and having a very, very hard time understanding the mammogram referral process.
But one standout exchange in the first hour of the hearing actually had nothing to do with abortion, or even Planned Parenthood. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, used the time he was allocated to question Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to talk about Wall Street and corporate accountability.
If this strikes you as a weird jump, read on:
The chairman just gave you a series of questions, and I just have a few other ones: Ms. Richards I find it extremely hypocritical that Republicans on this committee have criticized the salaries of Planned Parenthood officials when you have violated no laws, especially while these same Republicans completely ignore the CEOs of huge companies that are actually guilty of breaking the law.
Earlier this year, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and other banks pled guilty to manipulating currency markets and interest rates. They were fined more than $5 billion for their actions. Yet Citigroup's CEO still received $13 million last year, and J.P. Morgan's CEO received $20 million. These banks get extensive federal support […] Ms. Richards, do you know if House Republicans made any effort to strip the banks of their federal support that I just talked about? Well I can tell you, they didn't.
Johnson & Johnson, another one, was fined more than $2 billion for illegally marketing drugs and paying kickbacks to doctors and nursing homes. Yet the company's CEO still received $25 million last year. Ms. Richards, do you know if the House Republicans conducted an investigation of this company or other drug companies that violated the law? Do you? Well, I can answer that for you: no, they didn't. And they also never sought to deny them federal funding through Medicaid or block their NIH grants. […]
These are huge companies that are actually guilty of breaking the law, and their CEOs make millions of dollars. Republicans never criticize the salaries of their CEOs, and they never try to strip their federal funding, their government subsidies, or their tax breaks. But when it comes to women's health—when it comes to women's health—the Republicans' approach is completely different.
Watch the full exchange, seriously: