Politics is about drawing lines between competing interests. The real battle is over getting the line established. Once that is over and the line is in drawn, moving it is less of a challenge.
Social Security is part of our lives. It was not always so. For most of the history of this Republic there was no government pension system.
At the end of the 19th Century some trade unions negotiated modest pension benefits for members. Massachusetts was the first state to attempt to pass a general pension bill in 1903, but it failed.
Between 1923 and 1933 a majority of the states had passed some form of pension benefit programs. By 1935, in the depth of the depression, the exigencies of the times cobbled together a majority to pass the Social Security Act. The political battles to get to this point had boiled for decades.
Since that line was drawn in the sand, it has been moved often and under multiple administrations of both parties. The first cost of living adjustment came in 1940. Disability benefits were included in 1956 and annual cost of living adjustments were passed in 1972.
Protesters stand outside the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse Friday, March 23, 2012 in Phoenix. during the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. The rally is part of a nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom which is a reaction against the Obama Administration�s HHS mandate that will obligate Catholic organizations to provide contraceptive services to their employees. (AP Photo/Matt York)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the line of the day. It took nearly 100 years to get that line down and it was moved within months.
New regulations released three months after the bill was signed dramatically altered the kinds of policies that could be offered by insurance companies causing millions of individual policy cancellations.
Capricious waivers, nearly 40 to date, have changed the effective deadline for signing up and who would be bound by that deadline.
Those who can claim a hardship – that would include everyone who went through the process of signing up – are relieved from the mandate for coverage that virtually eliminates the centerpiece of the law.
Many states chose not to build state exchanges under the law so the federal government built a federal exchange that was not authorized in the law or even contemplated.
Even though most of these changes are illegal, they are happening. Nothing is stopping them. There will be legal challenges regarding statutory or constitutional authority, but court challenges take years and in the meantime the law has changed. The line has been moved.
This all comes to mind with the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court. The battle between pro- and anti-abortion forces has been raging for decades. The Supreme Court laid down the line between the two emotionally charged groups 41 years ago. The line is being moved by a highly partisan law, Obamacare.
Customers walk into a Hobby Lobby Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, in Dallas. An arts and craft supply chain that wants to block enforcement of part of a new health care law that requires employers to cover insurance costs for the morning-after pill and the week-after pill is heading to court. Credit: AP
Hobby Lobby is a company that sells arts and craft supplies in 561 stores across the United States. The founding couple is evangelical Christian and they are opposed to abortion. They are unwilling to comply with Obamacare and are asserting their rights under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Hobby Lobby’s health care coverage includes 16 of the 20 kinds of birth control mandated by Obamacare. The four types they choose not to provide are products that end a pregnancy after conception. To them, that is tantamount to abortion and is antithetical to their religious beliefs. They choose not to subsidize it and believe the government has no right to require it.
The left moved quickly to set up straw arguments and strike them down. Professional whiner, Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC asks, 'What right do they have to interfere with medical decisions by women?'
I know of no one in this discussion, least of all Hobby Lobby, who is the least bit interested in interfering with any woman’s medical decision. Nor does Ms. Mitchell.
Photo Credit: AP
Feminist writer and former Democrat operative, Amanda Marcotte wrote, “Religion is just the fig leaf draped over what is really an attempt to open up the war on reproductive rights to attacks on contraception access.”
I know of no one in this debate who has ever proposed limiting access to contraception. Nor does Ms. Marcotte.
What began as a woman’s right to abortion shifted to a woman’s right to choose – choose what? It moved to a woman’s reproductive rights, then a woman’s right to contraception and now a woman’s right to pass the costs of contraception on to others. That is how far the line has been moved and it has become a red line for serious anti-abortion advocates.
You’ve come a long way, baby.
John Linder served in Congress for 18 years from Georgia. He and his wife, Lynne, have retired to a farm in Northeast Mississippi. He can be contacted at: email@example.com
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