2012 Tuesday: With Obamacare contraception ruling, the president burns a wide bridge

Sometimes, you have to wonder if the uber-brains in the Obama administration/re-elect team are so bored with merely running the country that they try to challenge themselves by making matters more difficult than need be.

Last week was one of those times. Just in case Obamacare — to which President Obama hardly referred in his State of the Union address/campaign speech — didn’t seem like enough of a liability, the administration declared that all employer health-insurance plans will have to cover sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients. There will be no exception if an employer  is a religious group whose doctrine opposes these things. Among other things, it was the latest sign that President Obama’s infamous promise about his health-care reform — that you could keep your present coverage if you liked it — was an example of active deception.

(One assumes there will be no retroactive decisions by fact-checkers like Politifact to name that Obama line — and not the GOP criticisms of Obamacare — the “Lie of the Year” for 2009 or 2010. It’s little consolation that Obama’s line is the leader in the clubhouse for Lie of the Century.)

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson calls [note: link is now fixed] the decision “the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government” in more than 135 years:

Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere. …

The implications of Obama’s power grab go further than contraception and will provoke opposition beyond Catholicism. Christian colleges and universities of various denominations will resist providing insurance coverage for abortifacients. And the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.

The New York Times’ Ross Douthat points to an even broader implication of the new regulation:

A number of religious groups, led by the American Catholic bishops, had requested an exemption for plans purchased by their institutions. Instead, the White House has settled on an exemption that only covers religious institutions that primarily serve members of their own faith. A parish would be exempt from the mandate, in other words, but a Catholic hospital would not.

Ponder that for a moment. In effect, the Department of Health and Human Services is telling religious groups that if they don’t want to pay for practices they consider immoral, they should stick to serving their own co-religionists rather than the wider public. Sectarian self-segregation is O.K., but good Samaritanism is not. The rule suggests a preposterous scenario in which a Catholic hospital avoids paying for sterilizations and the morning-after pill by closing its doors to atheists and Muslims, and hanging out a sign saying “no Protestants need apply.”

Maybe the GOP line about Obamacare’s amounting to a “government takeover of health care” will turn out to be not such a “lie” after all. As Douthat goes on to note:

The regulations are a particularly cruel betrayal of Catholic Democrats, many of whom had defended the health care law as an admirable fulfillment of Catholicism’s emphasis on social justice. Now they find that their government’s communitarianism leaves no room for their church’s communitarianism, and threatens to regulate it out of existence.

Will Catholics who have supported the Democratic Party in spite of its decades-long pro-abortion stance decide an insurance regulation is the philosophical breaking point? Maybe: Up until now, they could rationalize to themselves that they weren’t being forced to take an action themselves that violated their consciences. Now they’ll have to come up with a new justification.

If they can’t find one, it could have a sizable impact on this year’s contest. Catholics made up more than a quarter of the 2008 electorate, and Obama won the group by 9 percentage points. John Kerry, who is a Catholic, lost the group by 5 points in 2004. Had Obama repeated Kerry’s performance with Catholics, it would have lopped 2 whole points off his popular-vote win. (The effects in the Electoral College would have been harder to gauge.) And this is another case in which the folks Obama has alienated will probably be highly motivated to vote against him, whereas the people happy with his decision won’t be much more likely to turn out in his support.

Another way in which this decision may have bigger implications for the 2012 election is in the personal embarrassment it visits upon some of the high-profile Catholics who had sought to engage Obama, from the president of Notre Dame to various Catholic bishops. There likely will be a lot fewer Catholic leaders — as well as Protestant ones — willing to stand as apologists for this president.

Then again, fooling people into thinking Obama was a safe, middle-of-the-road, post-partisan candidate proved to be pretty easy in 2008. The president’s actions over the past three years have made the jobs of the Obama 2012 team harder. But perhaps, in their minds, not hard enough.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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213 comments Add your comment

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

January 31st, 2012
12:23 pm

Obozo’s a liar? Huge surprise.

Bend over, Catholics. Time for your political prostate check.

clyde

January 31st, 2012
12:25 pm

Enter the very buttons that the Conservatives hate to have pushed.

Do what??????

January 31st, 2012
12:25 pm

So he’s just pissed off another large voting bloc.

Good job, Barry.

getalife

January 31st, 2012
12:27 pm

“Photos Of Osama Bin Laden’s Death May Be Released” Aol

October surprise.

Check mate.

Do what??????

January 31st, 2012
12:28 pm

WaPost just put out a column calling the president the most polarizing president. Ever.

Keep up the good work, Barry!

Do what??????

January 31st, 2012
12:28 pm

“October surprise.’

Uh, those photos were released already. Try again.

Also, killing OBL will not get him re-elected.

redneckbluedog

January 31st, 2012
12:33 pm

I don’t worry personally, except for my kids….You do realize the VD rate almost DOUBLED in the South from 2006 to 2010….!?!?

Ernest T. Bass

January 31st, 2012
12:38 pm

Yeah how dare they cover birth control devices.

I mean the Catholic Church has a long and proud history on this subject.

Deny them condoms so they have 11 kids and can never enjoy any prosperity !!!!

But perhaps, in their minds, not hard enough.

Considering the competition and lies coming from the right.

1. Obama is a Muslim
2. Obama was born in Kenya.
3. Obama pals around with terrorists

It shouldn’t really be a problem,

Ernest T. Bass

January 31st, 2012
12:44 pm

I don’t worry personally, except for my kids….You do realize the VD rate almost DOUBLED in the South from 2006 to 2010….!?!?

Wanna know why.

Idiots who think Abstinence programs work.

They don’t

Mad Max

January 31st, 2012
12:47 pm

This is what you get from a community organizer who thinks he knows what is good for us. We don’t need to think, he has us covered. What’s next, mandatory abortions for fetuses with recognizable defects, after all, it’s for the good of the “community”. Bork had it right when he said everytime we legislate something we lose a freedom.

jconservative

January 31st, 2012
12:51 pm

The decision by HHS will be appealed to the Supreme Court on 1st Amendment grounds.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

The decision a couple of weeks a by the Court in a case brought by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod held that the government could not tell a religious institution how to hire and fire its ministers.
It is only an intellectual baby step to overturn this ruling by HHS.

There is no difference between a Catholic school and a Catholic hospital, both are run by the diocese
or a local parish. Catholic schools are open to non-catholics, Catholic hospitals are open to non-catholics and Catholic Churches are open to non- catholics. HHS is drawing a distinction that does not in fact exist in the real world.

With 6 Catholics on the Court one would like the odds on an overturn of the directive.

Mad Max

January 31st, 2012
12:51 pm

Ernest – Maybe if you tried being a parent to your kids instead of leaving that job to the schools, you will find that abstinence does work. I’ve never heard of someone who abstained getting VD.

yuzeyurbrane

January 31st, 2012
12:54 pm

Kyle, nobody would be holding a gun to anyone’s head to make them use contraceptives. Catholics who are anti-contraceptive (a minority in their own church) can just say no. What about movie comparison? No one makes you go to a movie or even stay if you are offended. What happened to your libertarian leanings?

Kyle Wingfield

January 31st, 2012
12:55 pm

jconservative: I agree about the likelihood of a lawsuit and of said suit’s success. But it’s disturbing that the president would force the issue in this way.

commoncents

January 31st, 2012
12:57 pm

yuzeyurbrain: “What about movie comparison? No one makes you go to a movie or even stay if you are offended. What happened to your libertarian leanings?”

Not an accurate example. In this situation, you’re being forced to pay for the movie you never wanted to see or don’t want to support

Buttercup

January 31st, 2012
12:57 pm

“the administration declared that all employer health-insurance plans will have to cover sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients. There will be no exception if an employer is a religious group whose doctrine opposes these things.”

Yep, nothing like getting a job, keeping the job, paying for health insurance, and then finding out that the employer wont pay for meds or services due to their religious beliefs. Go Obama!

JF McNamara

January 31st, 2012
12:58 pm

I’m sure this will get be adjusted. It’s a new law. You always start with one thing and make positive adjustments along the way. This won’t even be a topic in a few weeks. It’s just another Libya, Wikileaks, or debt ceiling “crisis”.

Georgia, The " New Mississippi "

January 31st, 2012
1:02 pm

I never met a Catholic that was a good Christian. Too busy following the Pope to follow Jesus.

Kyle Wingfield

January 31st, 2012
1:07 pm

yuze: Extremely poor analogy on two counts. First, people whose insurance is provided by a Catholic institution today are not barred from buying contraceptives, etc. — it’s just that their employer will not pay all or part of the cost.

Second, no one makes me pay for a ticket to the movie that offends me if I don’t go. Any additional coverage that is mandated comes with an increased premium. The church will be paying for something that it doctrinally opposes. This is a blatant violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

As for my libertarian leanings: This directive is the antithesis of libertarianism, because, unlike the status quo, it will force some people to do something that violates their conscience.

Let’s look at it another way: I know some Jewish people who eat pork, but it would be absurd and unconstitutional for the government to mandate that any store that sells meat also sell pork or other items that aren’t kosher (or halal, for that matter). Not having such a mandate, OTOH, does not violate anyone’s right to eat pork if they wish.

Kyle Wingfield

January 31st, 2012
1:10 pm

JF: There was a temporary rule enacted in August, and plenty of back-and-forth on the matter in the interim. The administration knew exactly what it was doing here.

TRUTH

January 31st, 2012
1:12 pm

Man, you Righties are hanging on too anything! Hilarious. The President is looking at this at a more larger scale than your limited view of the world. Contraception is S-M-A-R-T. (Of Course that may be a bit much for most of you…). Further, grasping at something so small as, well, maybe preventing unwanted pregnancies, or maybe even the transfer of STD’s (you do know STD means, right?), and further underscoring a healthier lifestyle to REDUCE the impact of costs to healthcare, might be kinda right. But, nooooooooooo….. I guess I should have watched the GOP debates to learn that science bad, GOP ideology good.

The GOP is done. You can wish for the days that your fear mongering, finger waving, and being tone deaf to the citizenry are over. Romney and Gingrich, Santorum and Paul…wtf?

GO OBAMA!!

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

January 31st, 2012
1:16 pm

TRUTH, that’s the ticket–we just need the government to decide what the “smart” thing to do is, and then require everyone to do that thing.

Now run along to your liberal fascist meeting.

Kyle Wingfield

January 31st, 2012
1:16 pm

TRUTH: Missing the point, as usual.

theTruth

January 31st, 2012
1:18 pm

Isn’t the Bible basically a book of regulations?

Georgia, The " New Mississippi "

January 31st, 2012
1:19 pm

Voters complained they could not afford the Lipitor & Zocor they need to counteract the effects of all the Pork Chop “samiches” they have a “constitutional right” to eat. The health care law may end being repealed. Most conservative would agree, I think, that we have too many poor people running around and we need to thin them out because they are a drain on the taxpayer and the ‘ job creator”.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 31st, 2012
1:22 pm

This is an early sign that his re-election chances don’t look very good. Start putting in rulings that you haven’t thought through, ignore the Constitution by using ill-advised recess appointments, expand the use of Executive orders.

All designed to get things done before you’re booted out.

Can you imagine what a lame-duck time frame would be like with this Disaster-in-Chief if November doesn’t go well for him, but good for the country?

St Simons - codewords are the new black

January 31st, 2012
1:22 pm

wah-wah-wah Give us “faith based initiatives” w/gubmint monay!

wah-wah-wah I don’t want any rules or consequences of said monay!

I know a 3-year old toddler who acts like this – have big ol cup o shutup

ATLBadger

January 31st, 2012
1:22 pm

Fortunately for Obama, I don’t think this is much of an issue to the average American Catholic, most of whom happily use birth control….

It’s always amusing though to see what America’s religious right is getting its underwear in a bind over though!

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 31st, 2012
1:25 pm

“Isn’t the Bible basically a book of regulations?”

One could look at it that way, however, religion (or lack thereof) is a voluntary act to follow.

Government? Not so much.

UGA 1999

January 31st, 2012
1:26 pm

Obama….keep burning those bridges….Great job.

GT

January 31st, 2012
1:28 pm

Catholics are in the game for more than the medicine. They want to control none Catholics patients as well as their own. If most Catholics are like the ones I know they are not hard practicing Catholics anyway, so by painting everybody into the box of not favoring birth control doesn’t describe the situation of the whole. It is like saying Gingrich represents the church, when obviously he picks and choices ,like most of us, which sins suit him and which one do not.

I think you will find your narrow argument is yesterday’s news especially since you have picked morality as a stand for the Republican party with a straight face. I think Obama realizes he has no legitimate competition in this area from the right, and you will find in the general population where people admit they have sex this is a very popular decision. For those that don’t like it, there is always the freedom to not participate in such activity in their own lives. If morals is you main foundation start acting like it, or no one is going to take anything you say seriously. I’m not sure that is not the case now. The damage you people do to yourselves, religion and the rest of us is beyond accountability.

the edge

January 31st, 2012
1:29 pm

We kinda new all along what a dang liar Obama is.

UGA 1999

January 31st, 2012
1:30 pm

GT…..your comments are comical. “Obama realizes he has no legitimate competition in this area from the right”? God I hope this is truly what he thinks! The polls show differently.

joe

January 31st, 2012
1:35 pm

“Sometimes, you have to wonder if the uber-brains in the Obama administration/re-elect team are so bored with merely running the country that they try to challenge themselves by making matters more difficult than need be.”

Kyle–I fixed your typo below:

Sometimes, you have to wonder if the uber-brains in the Obama administration/re-elect team are so bored with merely RUINING the country that they try to challenge themselves by making matters more difficult than need be.

You’re welcome.

Kyle Wingfield

January 31st, 2012
1:37 pm

GT: “For those that don’t like it, there is always the freedom to not participate in such activity in their own lives.”

But not the freedom not to pay for it. Which is a form of participation. We’re not talking about legalizing these products. We’re talking about forcing people to pay for them.

Kyle Wingfield

January 31st, 2012
1:38 pm

JohnnyReb

January 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

This is another example of not believing anything, and I mean anything that Obama utters and instead watch what he does. You can when he is lying, his lips are moving.

Meanwhile, Obama has been crowned the most divisive president in our history. A new book from a UCLA professor states the whole country would vote “red” if not for media bias. The Leftie media of course denies the work.

And, Charles Murray’s new book states the economic division is not for the reasons the Occupy crown and the Left state. It’s more due to a breakdown in family and values among the middle class. Interestingly, he only used White working class in his study to avoid the Left howling of racisim. Another example of PC taking the country to hell.

UGA 1999

January 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

Redneck….And?

redneckbluedog aka xxxx@gmail.com

January 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

Nothing directly polygamist, there…..

Kyle Wingfield

January 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

redneckbluedog: You need to post an excerpt, a link and an attribution, not an unattributed C&P job. Thanks.

redneckbluedog aka xxxx@gmail.com

January 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

Doesn’t appear that the Mormons have a problem with birth control….

redneckbluedog

January 31st, 2012
1:43 pm

My apologies….

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 31st, 2012
1:45 pm

Yeah, ’cause we wouldn’t want married couples to love and be loyal to one another, do we, redneckbluedog? :roll:

Jefferson

January 31st, 2012
1:45 pm

The health care act can be improved all along the way, to stonewall against reform is what has led to the ever increasing costs. May things better, nothing stays the same.

pat

January 31st, 2012
1:50 pm

Christian bashing. The last accepted form of bigotry left in this country. Why? Because the media supports it.
Anyhow, the church will not bend on the issue, further, it goes beyond contraception and abortificants, the mandate includes the insurance plans require abortion services as part of the coverage. The church won’t budge, it will go to court, that obama will lose.
What a jerk.

Jefferson

January 31st, 2012
1:52 pm

Just because the a health plan covers these items does not mean an individual has to use them. It would be worse to need them and not be covered.

JohnnyReb

January 31st, 2012
1:53 pm

The Obamacare debate is an example of the Republican establishment screwing up again. They ran McCain against Obama and now Romney who lost to McCain. Romney has no defense for his position of Obamacare being different from the MA law he helped put in place. He will state it’s a states right issue. It’s not. There is no difference between the Federal Government putting the mandate in place versus a State putting it in place. A mandate to purchase healthcare insurace is unconstitutional whether required by the feds or the state.

If you are a Republican, you should be very concerned that Romney will likely be the nominee. At worse he will loose to Obama. At best, he is a RINO and will not effectively undo the Progressive transgressions as doing so would be one hell of a fight and he is not up to it. Newt has so much baggage he can’t be elected. If we are lucky, Santorum will be the nominee by hanging on and neither Romney nor Newt get enough delegates to win.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 31st, 2012
1:53 pm

Jefferson, there is one, and only one thing in Obamacare that improves health care.

Fixing the pre-existing condition nightmare.

That’s it. Nothing else. The rest is government mismanagement of a system that is already over-regulated to the point where it costs too much due to the regulations, not the services provided.

Somali Republican

January 31st, 2012
1:53 pm

@Kyle–>But not the freedom not to pay for it. Which is a form of participation. We’re not talking about legalizing these products. We’re talking about forcing people to pay for them.

Kind of like not having any kids, yet paying school taxes for other people’s brats?

Jefferson

January 31st, 2012
1:54 pm

Nope, your opinion is not the gospel nor is mine.