As I wrote about earlier (see Occupy the Bedroom), Republicans are pushing for an amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would allow employers to deny coverage not just for contraception but for any treatment or any condition they claimed was contrary to their religious beliefs.
They are enthusiastically, if transparently, framing their attack on women's health, the right to privacy and health care reform as an issue of religious freedom. Hence, the hearing today before a House Committee on the following question: “Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” The hearing, consisting of a panel of eight men, is skewed so that only those who agree with the Republican position will be heard from. But are they really fooling anyone?
It is one thing for the far right to be agitating for this kind of culture war, but purportedly moderate Republicans are being drawn in too. Maybe, there just aren't any more moderates in the Republican Party.
As this piece in the New York Times suggests, it is all about firing up the base, which has been somewhat lackluster in the wake of their uninspiring presidential candidates, and once again going after Obamacare:
Major evangelical groups that openly opposed Mr. Obama and his health care plan in the past see this as a new affront and a new opportunity for attack.Democrats, as always, should follow Elizabeth Warren's lead and take on the Republicans. She unapologetically attacked her Senate opponent, Scott Brown, for supporting the proposed amendment which she framed as "an extreme attack on every one of us”:
The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents thousands of churches in 40 denominations, “will be working vigorously” against the mandate, said Galen Carey, the association’s vice president for government relations — lending substance to the statement last week by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and a Baptist minister, that “we are all Catholics now.”
Evangelical leaders say they would be outraged by the mandate in any case, but many also believe that it will bring them political gains. [Ralph] Reed, the conservative strategist, said that even if a majority of Americans expressed general support for requiring contraceptive coverage — and even if, as he believes, the economy remained the primary issue — getting conservative and religious voters more fired up could make a difference.
It opens the door to outright discrimination. It would let insurance companies and corporations cut off pregnant women, overweight guys, older Americans, or anyone — because some executive claims it’s part of his moral code. Maybe that wouldn’t happen, but I don’t want to take the chance.Warren, quite correctly, argues that this issue must be viewed through the prism of economics:
This election is about whose side you stand on. Here’s an example of giving power to insurance companies and corporations to undercut basic health care coverage. I’m going to fight for families to keep that coverage. The economics around health care are huge for families.It has long been conventional wisdom that the culture wars help Republicans and drive a wedge between so-called Independents and Democratic "elites." If the Democrats fight back, it won't work this time.