Having skillfully and successfully created and deployed an initial ruling on mandated contraceptive coverage solely to inflame a “war on women” narrative crucial to winning the presidential election for its champion, the ACA/Obamacare is now triangulating back toward the political center in an effort to dissipate the criticism it no longer needs and which now can only prove harmful to it. Keep in mind that everything that is true now was true then, every reason and every action being advanced now would have been just as intelligent, rational and compelling had they been the choice instead last year. The only difference is the political utility gained last year by that now-disposable passive-aggressive Alinskian political ploy:
Responding to complaints from religiously-affiliated groups, the Obama administration today proposed new health insurance rules for covering the cost of birth control, laying out a plan to ensure coverage without compelling faith-based organizations to pay for it.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration sought to balance two principles in its rule-making: “We had to ensure that women have access to preventive services like contraception and that the policy respects religious beliefs,” he said.
The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide full health care coverage for contraception, though the rule exempts houses of worship like churches or synagogues. However, other nonprofits with religious affiliations — such as, for instance, a Catholic university — were expected to comply. The Obama administration faces several lawsuits over the issue.
Under the new proposed rules, such non-profit religious organizations would have to ensure that enrollees of their health care plans get full contraception coverage, but they would not have to pay for it — a health insurer would pay for it.
“Today, the administration is taking the next step in providing women across the nation with coverage of recommended preventive care at no cost, while respecting religious concerns,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “We will continue to work with faith-based organizations, women’s organizations, insurers and others to achieve these goals.”
While the value of the ACA/Obamacare as health care law (its putative raison d’être) is yet to be determined, there is no question it has already proved a campaign tool critically useful in manipulating electoral politics. With such a sturdy proof of concept, we can expect more of the same: law as law except insofar as it needs be pragmatically mutable to higher, transient political ends, by whomever is in the driver’s seat at the time.
Update: What is the product when the law comes to serve the transient expediencies of politics instead of politics serving the rule of law? One ends up with, in concept if not in effect, idiosyncratic warlordism: a political campaign armed with the legal (and, implicitly, martial) force of the state.
H. M. Stuart