Michelle Obama probably didn't expect her recent campaign to promote breast feeding to cause such a fuss. First, Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann knocked Obama for supporting a Feb. 10 change in IRS rules making breast pumps tax deductible. "To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump you want to talk about nanny state, I think we just got a new definition," Bachmann told a radio show. Then Sarah Palin weighed in: "It's no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you better breast-feed your baby. Yeah, you better because the price of milk is so high right now!" After that, mom blogs on both the right and the left piled on, saying that Obama was putting too much pressure on mothers to nurse. Meanwhile, a number of newspapers dug up information showing that as governor of Alaska, Palin herself promoted breast feeding.
There's also more clarity on the so-called federal funding for breast pumps than either Bachmann or Palin would have people believe. To get a tax deduction for any lactation equipment, nursing mothers must file an itemized return (only about a third of Americans do). The other option is to pay for the equipment via a flexible-spending account (FSA), which allows you to set aside pretax money for medical expenses not covered by health insurance. And if folks on both sides really want to get fired up, they could start parsing the other FSA eligible items, which include expenses associated with legal abortions, birth control and random things like LASIK corrective eye surgery, acupuncture and adult diapers. Not allowed: infant formula. (But if your baby requires a specialized, more expensive formula because of a medical condition, you may be able to deduct the difference in price.)