Obama's high price for birth control will be his 2012 defeat
WASHINGTON & SANTA FE, NM (By Keith Koffler, Politico) February 14, 2012 — Obama’s decision requiring Catholic institutions offer health plans with free birth control may cost him far more than the Catholic vote.
Obama’s edict, a curtailment of freedom that can result from his type of regulatory regime and statist interventions, will ultimately threaten his entire reelection.
It may also set off alarms in the corridors of the Supreme Court, which now has six Catholic justices. Including one, Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the crucial swing vote in deciding the constitutionality of Obama’s health reform law. If the court strikes down the insurance mandate, the entire law is likely to collapse — and Obama’s most significant achievement will disappear.
The birth control rule is not an anomaly in the health care law that somehow sprang out of the measure and ignited a firestorm. It flows naturally from the legislation itself. The law is unique it commands individuals to engage in a specific behavior – getting health insurance coverage — and punishes those who refuse.
That is a concern not only to Catholics, but to every voter who thought the law was just about guaranteeing health care for all. Suddenly, there is a level of government intrusion many may not have considered. And it raises questions for everyone about how much of an impact a second Obama term would have on people’s private behavior.
What makes the concern worse is requiring employers to provide free access to birth control forces some people to do something they find objectionable on moral and religious grounds. Tampering with people’s most intimate choices could spread this concern about the health law — and about Obama’s penchant for regulation — from conservatives to moderate and independent voters, the crucial bloc Obama needs to win..
The matter for voters, and even for Catholic voters, is not so much the birth control requirement itself. Use of birth control is now widely accepted – even, as noted repeatedly, by most Catholics.
The outcry is from people who use birth control suggests this issue is far bigger than the Catholic vote. The real concern is a few people may have to contradict deeply held beliefs — and if they must, maybe, one day, others must too.
For Catholics in particular, of course, it is the awful notion someone of their faith – perhaps even a member of the clergy - who cannot in good conscience provide others with birth control, will now be forced to condone it.
How much more government intervention could occur, many may wonder, if Obama wins a second term and is no longer answerable to the electorate?
The president has already signaled a taste for ruling by executive action when he can’t get his way from Congress.
Obama went to war in Libya without as much as a congressional resolution. He’s been accused of circumventing Congress in ways that range from writing greenhouse regulations in lieu of legislation to making recess appointments when Congress is not in recess.
Nearly every week, he seems to unveil a new minor initiative. It’s all described as part of his “We Can’t Wait” campaign — which the White House trumpets as an effort to act unilaterally on many things Obama believes Congress should do but won’t.
The health care legislation itself was approved by only one vote in the Senate — a rare example of major social change being rammed through by a president without real consensus.
Obama, as often happens with those granted extraordinary power, has gone a too far. Voters may now recognize his agenda could mean more government power over their lives than they bargained for when they handed him the presidency.
This is also the issue now before the Supreme Court. The justices must decide whether the federal government’s constitutional right to regulate interstate commerce also includes the right to compel it.
The court may narrowly rule on that issue. But what is now graphically clear for the justices is if they allow health reform’s insurance mandate to stand, the power to compel commerce is only part of the compelling to be done.
This could metastasize into matters of conscience — like religion. Which may prove a potentially unacceptable outcome for one observant Catholic, Justice Kennedy.
If Kennedy causes the court to strike down health reform, he adds the insult of a weakened looking presidency to the injury this law has already caused Obama with the electorate.