Pres. Obama: “On Second Thought . . .”

Apparently the president has had a change of heart; or, as some might more cynically state it, he had a change of strategy thrust upon him by political necessity. The following is an excerpt from an MSN/NBC news release earlier today:

“President Barack Obama announced Friday that the administration will not require religious-affiliated institutions to cover birth control for their employees.

Instead, the White House is demanding that insurance companies be responsible for providing free contraception.”

In a post earlier this week we questioned the legitimacy of the initially announced policy which required the coverage which today’s announcement rescinds. Though undoubtedly politically motivated, I think it was the right decision, given the current state of health care payment in this land of ours.

But the second statement harkens back to a comment from a good friend in response to that initial post. Note the language used. The government is making demands on private insurers. That this is happening at all is of significant concern; that it is happening over this particular issue is incomprehensible, unless one recognizes that here, too, political capital is at the center. Specifically, that which comes from a certain segment of the population for whom everything revolves around obliterating any differences between men and women (who really wants that world?). The demand is that contraception–not childhood vaccinations, not absolutely needed medicines for the very young, old, or poor, not various cancer screening procedures (including mammograms)–be provided at no cost. How does that work, other than to cover the cost by adding it to everything else? But we’re not supposed to know that.

My real beef is not specifically about the contraception issue; this matter serves only to highlight the role that we have allowed our governing authorities to take in today’s culture. If health care is the province of the government, even in the limited role of who pays for coverage of which conditions, then it is unavoidable that decisions such as this have to be made. And they will always be made with an eye toward the electorate, or that portion of which is perceived to be most in need of schmoozing. I don’t think the Obama administration is essentially different from any other in this regard: if there is an area in which the government has significant influence, it will exercise that influence with a finger to the wind. A decade ago the concern was homeland security; before that it was education; today it’s health care; in another time it was crime or national defense, housing, or poverty.

The underlying question is that of how we should order our lives together in the day in which we live. Democrats and Republicans have different conceptions of the answer. And so should Christians, but it must be their own, not one adopted from or simply ceded to either of those parties for definition. And that vision, something I have alluded to several times recently, needs to include this matter of health care. For all the faults of the Obama package–and there are many, some of which we haven’t yet found simply because of the size of the bills involved–we should not lose sight of the fundamental problem it sought to address. Too many people cannot pay for adequate care because of sky-rocketing, unregulated costs. Take away “Obama Care” and that problem is still there.

The shaping of that Christian vision might begin by noting the foundational role Christian churches and individuals played in the establishing of hospitals. They were for love and care in the name of Jesus, not for profit. That principle should always be in mind with any aspect of the vision of the good–tempered only as much as necessary by the very real fact that it must all be paid for. That balance will always be challenging to identify, let alone achieve; but this difficulty cannot keep us from seeing and working toward a better way. One that gives second thoughts for other than political reasons.

10 thoughts on “Pres. Obama: “On Second Thought . . .”

  1. Just yesterday I spoke at length with someone who is a new-ish pastor in a depressed area, whose phone rings constantly with needs for food, clothing, shelter. This pastor wants to help, in Jesus’ name, but a small congregation in a depressed area must be concerned about paying for the oil to heat the building one day each week, and cannot possibly give enough to touch more than a few of those who call. Many are turned away, and we feel helpless.

    We discussed whether the congregation might be open to “adopting” a family in need, serving to help to meet overwhelming needs as it is possible, helping someone get back on a more-stable footing… and it’s a good idea. But how do we choose which family, which need, among so many? (How did Jesus choose whom to speak to at the pool of Bethesda? How did he walk by so many?) How do we move past the helpless guilt of having only five loaves and two fish to feed the multitude, and move toward the faith that offers our paltry contribution to Jesus and prays that it will be multiplied? We pray for discernment, and wisdom, and peace… but we must act. Lord, have mercy on us all.

    • In the context of most of the postings here, and my personal angle/view Dr. Mellinger, the State doesn’t want you to do this. The State wants to be the Church and will take all the resources it can to at least appear to take care of things, or at best to do them poorly and at great expense. There can only be one suzerein here on earth and it is not yours, or Dr. Miller’s, etc. This is not a new story of course, in Spengler/Goldman’s language “This is not the end of the world, this is only the end of you (us)”. We will personally stumble upon or seek the poor to do what we can, the resources to do this well have been taken for war, policing, and a lot of good things done very poorly by incompetent people.

      • Heard Santorum’s spiel before the CPAC on C-Span today. Impressive. Never thought I’d say that. He took Obama to task on pretty much the issue you cite, but in the context of whether it is the state or something beyond the state that grants rights–also in keeping with the suggestion of some wise man a day or so ago in his plea to return to the Declaration rather then the Bill of Rights, for therein the source of rights is expressly acknowledged.

  2. It appears to me that there is a difference in this administration, they seem to have consistently gone after the Roman Catholic Church and its ministries (focused on the other) whether they concerned asylum or contraception. They also seem to consistently disparage any of the constitutional categories, whether it is by the executive’s statement prior to the Superbowl, his appointee Ginsburg in her remarks in Egypt, 2nd amendment issues, etc…

    Now they are essentially practical matters, the Christian church has operated under worse much worse from Russia to China to Rome once upon a time. They were enemies of the Church of course, so my question is what is the threshold when the US is the enemy of the church? Not to go and buy a gun, or incite violence, but simply to dismiss them as a partner, as something to be respected, as something maybe to obey but in no way honor. Eric Metaxes’ speech at the national prayer breakfast was quite interesting, going between Wilburforce and Bonhoeffer who essentially chose opposite means/goals. He in fact compared the slave & jewish choices with abortion.

  3. When we no longer have elections (which may be very soon), the government will take the rest of our liberties and micromanage the economy and our lives. Powerful people in both political parties yearn for this kind of power. The previous adminstration gave the Secretary of the Treasury unconstitutional tyrannical power. The current adminstration gave unconstitutional tyrannical power to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Both senators who ran for president in 2008 voted for campaign finance reform, an abominable bill that restricted the free speech of Christians. A Republican president signed it into law. We had an issue then, but most Christians didn’t care. Why? Here’s our choice: One party may give us a benevolent tyranny, the other may not. One party may continue to protect our religious freedom, the other may not. And I’m convinced many confessing Christians have more faith in government than in God. I’m also convinced many confessing Christians are willing to surrender their individual liberties in exchange for government stipends. On the positive side, God wants His church pure; and He may be applying the necessary pressure to purify us.

  4. As a senior citizen, I demand the administration apply the same rational they used for the dictate to drug companies regarding contraceptives to Lipitor and heart attack prevention. Lipitor costs users $1600 per year. Heart attacks are far more serious than failure to use contraceptives. Senior citizens are an active and growing voting bloc, Politicians should jump at this opportunity.

    • This brings up the part Republicans don’t get; why does it cost that much? Not all profits are clean and sacred. Are the resources used in production really that scarce and cost that much to produce? We’ll never get a handle on health care costs if we don’t ask seriously why things cost what they do. Bottom line is that one way or another–either prices or taxes or lower wages to compensate fo rhigh insurance–we’ll pay for it. So why pay all those people in the middle who neither care for patients nor create remedial products? When they are there, health care cannot avoid being highly politicized.

      • I rest my case. Richard B. proved my point. We are willing to surrender our freedoms to the government. If we approve the government dictating how much profit businesses can make, it’s the camel’s nose under the tent. Soon the government will dictate how much you can make. Do we want to lower drug costs? Get the government OUT of heathcare, not IN it. The more government intervention, the higher the price.

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