Keynoting last Friday’s ”Stand up for Religious Freedom” rally in Washington, DC (organized by a coalition of mostly anti-abortion groups), Christian conservative commentator Star Parker earned her biggest applause by drawing the following comparison:
No more than should my auto insurance cover your tune-up should my health insurance cover your sex life
While Parker’s audience seems to find this analogy hilarious, I don’t quite get its appeal. Assuming that Parker doesn’t have a particular moral objection to tune-ups, it just doesn’t make any sense.
My best guess is that Parker is simply appealing to the broader Randian sentiment all the rage on the right these days that individuals should be obligated to no one but themselves; that they specifically shouldn’t have to pay for anything for anyone else.
But, of course, paying for things for other people is the entire concept of insurance. Sure, it may feel personalized (I buy a policy from a company, pay my premiums, and when I need coverage they write a check for me), but in practice it’s really a miniature form of – gasp — “socialism,” redistributing wealth from the healthy to the sick, the good drivers to the bad, the lucky to the unlucky.
Some may not like knowing that their premiums “subsidize” the risky or objectionable decisions of their fellow policyholders, but that’s why they don’t really get a say. Once they write their premium check it’s not really their money anymore; they’re better off viewing it as just the regular fee they pay to ensure financial security if something bad happens to them.
If Parker and others really believe what’s she saying, their problems are much larger than the marginal issue of contraception coverage and religious employers. They should probably just stop buying insurance altogether.
Yesterday, witnesses from all parts of the faith community came together in front of the Supreme Court for a “prayerful witness” in support of the Affordable Care Act. Several clergy members from various denominations spoke out on the importance of the law from a faith perspective.
Sponsored by Faithful Reform in Health Care and the Washington Interreligious Staff Community (WISC) Health Care Work Group, more than a hundred supporters gathered together in prayer and to share inspiring stories as a result of the law, vastly outnumbering the small handful of individuals protesting against the law.
A New York Times story about the advocacy groundswell around the Supreme Court’s review of the Affordable Care Act notes that “Catholic and anti-abortion groups” oppose the health care law because of concerns about federal abortion funding. This is a sweeping generalization that misses the mark.
While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the Affordable Care Act, the Catholic Health Association –representing over 600 hospitals and 1,400 long-term care facilities– publicly supported the law and was instrumental in securing its passage. So did a national network of Catholic nuns representing thousands of women religious across the country. Over 20 prominent Catholic sisters even filed an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in this case supporting the law.
In fact, many Catholic social justice leaders backed this historic law precisely because they believe access to quality, affordable health care is a pro-life issue bearing on human dignity. The Catholic Health Association and independent analysts came to the conclusion that the Affordable Care Act does not provide federal funding for abortion. President Obama signed an executive order to provide additional assurances that existing limits on abortion funding remained in place under the law. None of this is mentioned in the article.
These omissions do a disservice to readers and perpetuate a false narrative that Christian conservatives who parrot GOP talking points have an exclusive claim on our public debates over values and public policy.
Today is the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, which is already improving the lives of millions of Americans. To highlight some of the ways the law is making an impact, the Department of Health and Human Services has put together a series of videos featuring the stories of Americans who are already benefiting from the law.
Here’s Vanessa M. explaining how the law’s repeal of lifetime caps on coverage ensures that families like hers with developmentally delayed children won’t face gripping economic insecurity:
Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2013 federal budget proposal is the talk of the town in Washington today, and for good reason. As Greg Sargent pointed out this morning, the debate over Ryan’s plan will “…ultimately, force the American people to make a big choice between two starkly different sets of priorities and ideological roadmaps for the country’s future.”
Ryan seems to embrace this struggle, justifying his budget plan in moral terms. The crux of his argument is that we have a foreseeable, catastrophic debt crisis on the horizon, and that rejecting his solution represents an immoral dereliction of leadership. Here’s Ryan speaking at the American Enterprise Institute this morning:
Ryan seems to believe it’s morally necessary to gut protections for the poor and vulnerable right now in order to avoid gutting protections for the poor and vulnerable in the future.
What Ryan doesn’t address, though, is his own culpability in exploding the debt that he thinks necessitates these cuts. Let’s take a short walk down memory lane:
Ryan voted for Wall Street deregulation that led to the economic collapse of 2008, which exploded the debt and destroyed millions of jobs.
Ryan voted for tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that helped turn Clinton-era surpluses into huge Bush-era deficits and overwhelmingly benefited millionaires and billionaires.
Ryan voted for a Medicare prescription drug benefit that added almost $300 billion to the deficit and prohibited the government from negotiating withpharmaceutical companies for fairer prescription drug prices.
Ryan consistently voted for the deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which in addition to killing over 100,000 people added over $1 trillion to the debt.
Ryan is arguably as responsible as anyone in Washington for running up the national debt, yet he doesn’t hesitate to preach about the moral imperative to get behind his plan to solve the debt problem he helped create. Even if his plan were a serious solution instead of an Ayn Rand-inspired ideological agenda, Ryan would do well to repent of his own complicity in the debt before moralizing to the rest of us about it.