After two solid weeks of Republicans rapidly escalating attacks on contraception access under the banner of "religous [sic] freedom," Obama finally announced what the White House is proposing an accomodation [sic] of religiously affiliated employers who don't want to offer birth control coverage as part of their insurance plans.Yeah, rotten spelling/proofreading, but give her a chance. Normally, I can't stand Marcotte, but I think she's homing in on the truth:
In those situations, the insurance companies will have to reach out directly to employees and offer contraception coverage for free, without going through the employer. Insurance companies are down with the plan... contraception actually saves insurance companies money, since it's cheaper than abortion and far cheaper than childbirth.Remember the economies of the "blue pill" and the don't-call-them-death-panels for end-of-life human beings? There's lots of money to be saved at life's onset. Insurance companies (and the safety-net-providing government) stand to save lots of money through pregnancy — and child! — prevention. It makes economic sense to incentivize the use of birth control. A woman has a right to choose whether to have children or not, but the government may nudge the woman toward its preferred choice. It is good economic policy to push women to avoid having babies until they've got a stable relationship and a solid economic foundation, so clear the path to the relatively inexpensive pills and poisons and devices that keep the sperm and the egg from acquiring a will of their own.
Another point, which Marcotte doesn't make, is that many, many healthy individuals are about to be forced to spend thousands of dollars a year on health insurance, and there needs to be a decent flow of seemingly "free" things so that they don't get too upset about it. Birth control is perfect for this. It's something women use — continually — when they are perfectly healthy. Face it: Birth control is about preventing an important bodily function from working. Now, the birth control won't be free, because everyone paying into the insurance pool will be covering the cost, but the women who use the birth control will have the feeling that they're getting something. That's a special kind of palliative care that the designers of Obamacare are going to want to cover.
So did Obama "pull a fast one" on conservatives, as Marcotte surmises?
He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women's access to contraception, which is what this has always been about....Now, those who complained about the old rule have a choice whether to move on to some other traditional-values issue or to find a way to say that the problem is still there. If they do the latter — as Rush Limbaugh did a series of semi-coherent rants on his show yesterday — they're going to annoy/scare the millions of women who use contraception and the millions and millions of women and men who want other people to use contraception. (Don't forget the "Freakonomics" theory connecting the avoidance of unwanted pregnancy to a reduction in crime.)
Marcotte thinks the conservatives will give up on this issue and exults that "the damage has already been done."
[W]hat most people will remember is that Republicans picked a fight with Obama over contraception coverage and lost. This also gave Obama a chance to highlight this benefit and take full credit for it. Obama needs young female voters to turn out at the polls in November, and hijacking two weeks of the news cycle to send the message that he's going to get you your birth control for free is a big win for him in that department.And let's not forget — Marcotte doesn't mention this — that the birth control fracas peaked precisely when a story was breaking that should have made the administration look weak on a women's rights issues: the decision limiting women in the military. As I noted yesterday, Michelle Obama was deployed on a nutrition-in-the-military mission on the very day that decision was announced. So there is good reason to think the Obama campaign is sharply focused on manipulating the minds of constituents who care about women's issues.
As Marcotte said: "It's all so perfect that I'm inclined to think this was Obama's plan all along."