Obama’s Imaginary Mandate Compromise: Don’t Hope for Change

Opinion   |   Matt Bowman   |   Feb 17, 2012   |   7:56PM   |   Washington, DC

In its latest attempt to quell the broiling rebellion against Obamacare’s obliteration of religious freedom, the Administration did, well, what it does.  It issued another dissembling, contradictory press statement.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters Thursday that the President’s full-subsidy mandate for morally objectionable pills and treatments was not intended to apply to employers who self-insure…sort of.   “Whether it’s an insured plan or self-insured plan that the employer who has a religious objection doesn’t have to directly offer or pay for contraception,” she said.

This would surely come as a surprise to the authors of the Obamacare, which specifically requires “preventive services” to be included in self-insured plans.  It also makes the president’s Feb. 10 press statements nonsensical, since his entire suggestion to avoid “direct” payment for religiously objectionable items was to entertain the fiction that insurers, rather than employers, would be forced to provide coverage.  A self-insuring employer is its own insurer.

The administration’s continued fumbling of statements about this controversy illustrate the inherent danger of combining a bloated bureaucracy with an attempt to govern by Facebook status updates and Twitter feeds.

The key to understanding why the “explanations” of attacks on religious freedom evolve every time someone puts a microphone in front of an administration official hangs on one simple legal fact: all the President’s “compromises” are purely imaginary.

When President Obama held his noontime press conference on February 10 to vaguely outline a “compromise,” he went on at 5 p.m. that day to publish his final rule in the Federal Register.  That rule is the one that actually governs and with which entities must comply.

And what did the rule actually say?  It said that the same old rule – that violates religious freedom…that redefines “religious” into minimalist oblivion…that has outraged Americans for the past several months – was adopted “without change.”

“Change you can believe in” has become “we ‘hope’ we’ve fooled you into believing we’ve changed this.”

The President’s “compromise” is less than meaningless—legally it does not exist.  The president did not sunset his rule, require any new details to be proposed, or even appoint a “super committee” to hammer out a compromise.  Nothing happened except the final adoption of the old rule.  By suggesting that something did change, the Obama administration has essentially replaced the rule of law, Lex Rex, to governance by constant media updates, “Rex Text.”

This unlocks the mystery of how the president’s disregard of religious freedom has gone from Secretary Sebelius setting it in stone, to Jay Carney saying it would not change, to David Axelrod saying maybe it would change but not really, to the President declaring a compromise exists on the same day he adopted the original rule without change, to Secretary Sebelius contradicting the president and herself in the same sentence.

As a great Hollywood sage taught us, “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible.  Instead, only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon.”

There is no “compromise.”  The administration’s past, present, and future media comments are an intentional distraction from the fact that the President drove forward his attack on religious freedom in health insurance “without change,” while he tried to make us look the other way.

The president’s assurance that he will adjust his plan, in unspecified and bizarre ways, after the election when he has no accountability, is not contained in the binding language of the final rule.  He knows it.

The president fast-tracked this attack on religious freedom through the regulatory process, avoiding public comment based on the alleged urgent need to get other people to pay for college girls’ “protection”  in time for the August 2012 hook-up season.

But when it came time to belatedly ensure protection for religious freedom, he pulled our coverage.  And we thought that freedom was a “pre-existing condition” in America.

As a result the president has purposely made it impossible to complete a regulatory process to restore religious freedom before Election Day.  He is wagering that the American people will not realize that he actually passed his original anti-freedom rule, but will instead believe that his deluge of press statements – dutifully regurgitated by a pliant press – about “compromise” actually mean something.  When hearing the blips and tweets of this administration, Americans would do well to remember, “There is no spoon.”

LifeNews Note: Matthew S. Bowman is legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org), a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.