The new federal rule requiring employers with a religious affiliation to provide contraception illustrates why given a real alternative I might vote Republican for President for the first time since 1988. The President wants employers to provide contraception without a deductible or a co-pay to employees with a narrow exception for churches, synagogues, mosques, and other actual religious institutions. The Catholic Church and the Republicans are outraged seeing an infringement of religious freedom.
It is important to understand that from a secular policy perspective there is only one right answer. We know that contraception reduces the number of unwanted children born to married couples and unwed parents, unlocks the doors of prosperity for families in poverty, promotes women’s health, and manages the reality of human sexuality. It is no accident that Catholic dominated countries in the third-world, such as the Philippines, have horrific poverty directly related to poor families unable to support their large families. There is simply no counter-argument to a nation providing voluntary contraception to its citizens by whatever method . None.
That is why both the Catholic Church, then the Republicans smelling a political opportunity, never discuss the actual merits of providing contraception. Instead they resort to a bogus liberty argument. An argument which has no scriptural basis. None. Point me to the passage of the Bible that discusses contraception.
And waving the religious freedom flag is ridiculous. Religious institutions cannot discriminate based on race or authorize polygamy. If they want to hire people, they cannot impose their religious views on their employees. An argument with no constitutional basis. None. Point me to an article in the Constitution that supports the right of religious affiliated employers to override Federal law and mandate religious beliefs on their employees.
We are faced with a religious institution that does enormous good speaking once again out of its achilles heel or rather its achilles foot implanted in its mouth. For some reason the Catholic Church, which is such a force for good at the parish and local level, continues to push an agenda set by its clerical elite who live abnormal sex lives. People supposedly with no experience of sexuality mandating total nonsense about sex to Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and other employees.
But the headline is “Why The President Frustrates Me.” I have two basic objections that for me define this presidency. First, we are treated to David Axlerod and Vice President Biden announcing for obvious electoral purposes that the administration is open to changing the rule. Why on earth would the President cater to utter nonsense? Much has been said of Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping, but with the narrow exceptions of the payroll tax cuts and the Affordable Care Act (for Republican readers Obamacare), this President wrote the book on flip-flopping.
But the second and much more important reason is the failure of this President to ever attack the core issues at the root of problems. The root cause of the contraception dispute is employer provided healthcare. Whether you adopt the Republican idea of each family buying health insurance on their own in the market or a single payor system, you solve the root cause of this problem. If employers were not involved in healthcare, women regardless of the Catholic Church’s dogma would have access to contraception and the ability to make their own decisions.
As I wrote in September employer provided health insurance is the core problem in the healthcare system. It divorces employees from any sense of cost. It places untrained corporate executives in charge of choosing healthcare insurance for their employees, then ruling on whether or not doctors can provide particular procedures to employees.
As with the financial crisis the President is a timid reformer on healthcare. Instead of breaking up the banks so we never face “to big to fail”, he issues a mamouth new regulatory regime to manage banks that are still to big to fail. Instead of eliminating employer healthcare and the tax breaks that sustain it, he maintains it as the core of his reform.
Fortunately for the President and his electoral chances the only politicians more misguided on contraception appear to be his opponents. If we are to have employer healthcare, then stand up for the policy decision that has no counter-argument. I voted for “change” not flip-flopping nonsense.