The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama’s Faith-Based Initiative, Believing in Himself


Plenty of CPAC fun and a bit of talk about the media’s coverage of the 2012 GOP presidential primary, but also this thought in the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Panetta, Biden, Daley See the Folly That Obama Can’t

JakeTapper offers a fascinating portrait of the Obama administration’s internal debates on the contraception rule:

“What are we doing here?” asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, stepping outside his wheelhouse to ask about a rising storm involving the Obama administration and the Catholic Church. “What’s the point?”

It was the Fall of 2011 and Panetta had read about a proposed Obama administration rule that would require employers — excluding houses of worship but including religious organizations such as charities, hospitals, and schools — to offer health insurance that fully covered contraception.

Panetta — a Catholic, former U.S. Representative, and White House chief of staff — didn’t quite understand why the Obama administration would be stepping into this conflict.

The Obama administration did not accidentally stumble into this controversy. They’re in it because some members of the White House staff — and ultimately, President Obama himself — wanted this controversy. They wanted to find those who they disagree with and punish them, to force them to bend to their will. They’re absolutely certain that enough Americans feel so favorably about birth control that they will applaud the federal government forcing institutions to pay for it even if those institutions consider it a sin. In their minds, there is absolutely no reason significant enough for an employer to not pay for it, certainly nothing as obscure and intangible as a faith’s interpretation as the Will of the Almighty. It pales in comparison to the Will of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

This controversy is another manifestation of the argument of the individual mandate. Life is full of good things, or popular things. The goodness or popularity of a particular good or service doesn’t mean Americans want their government telling them that they must purchase it.

Obama has heard the controversy, and is, so far, refusing to back down. His faith in his own infallibility is clear.

UPDATE: Backing down? Depends upon your perspective:

ABC News has learned that later today the White House — possibly President Obama himself — will likely announce an attempt to accommodate these religious groups.

On source described the attempted accommodation as “Hawaii Lite” — a reference to that state’s law which allows religious groups to opt out of coverage that includes birth control, as long as employees are given information whether such coverage can be obtained.

This announcement would not go that far. Sources say it will involve health insurance companies helping to provide the coverage, since it’s actually cheaper for these companies to offer the coverage than to not do so, because of unwanted pregnancies and resulting complications.

Great news, religious organizations. The government might not force you to pay for something you consider a sin; you simply have to help your employees obtain something you consider a sin!

Tags: Barack Obama , Kathleen Sebelius , Leon Panetta


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