NYT story confirms that there was no Obama “accommodation” on mandate

By Dave Andrusko

Valerie Jarrett

It is very handy both for President Obama and for the Abortion Industrial Complex that the New York Times functions largely as a stenographer, reprinting their talking points with only the most minor editing.

On the other hand, that access means that occasionally (and no doubt inadvertently) the lies and distortions that are so routinely a part of the Obama governing style are exposed. I offer a profile of Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s “spine” (the word is from the story’s author, Jo Becker) that appeared over the weekend.

Part of the story is driven by what is obviously score-settling by Jarrett’s enemies in the administration. The thrust of the story is the familiar portrait of Obama as a man more-or-less of the middle, “innately cautious” whom Jarrett pushes to take more “progressive” positions. This is silly; as the story suggests elsewhere, Jarrett merely “reinforced his instincts.”

For our purposes, the most important revelation is about the battle over the Obama mandate to require employers to provide health insurance that covered birth control, regardless of religious and/or moral objections. Again, the familiar narrative is trotted out—that there were “more centrist” members of the administration who were looking for an accommodation with the Catholic Church. (As Becker points out, in 2008 Obama carried the Catholic vote, which represents more than a quarter of the electorate.)

Whether true or not—whether or not Jarrett ran over them or around them —what matters is that the story confirms what opponents of the mandate have insisted all along: that the so-called “accommodation” was nothing of the sort. If any evidence was needed, Planned Parenthood was happy.

We learn

(1) Jarrett fought a “broad exemption for religious employers like hospitals and universities.” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in harmony with this and a year ago last August agreed “that only churches themselves would get a pass,” as Becker describes it.

(2) Others in the administration “worried about how forcing church-affiliated organizations to pay for it would play. Moreover, they felt that the rule put important Catholic allies in the health care fight in a tough position, and potentially violated a law banning regulations that impose a substantial burden on religious expression.” Wow!

(3) But…. “if some expected significant backtracking, they were mistaken,” Becker writes. “In phone calls the next week, the president outlined his compromise: the burden for the coverage would shift from employers to insurers, but women who worked for religious organizations could still avail themselves of the benefit.”

Of course, it was no “compromise” at all, as the raft of lawsuits that have proceeded since demonstrates. Moreover, guess who Obama called? “When the president called me, I could practically hear Valerie’s influence,” said Cecile Richards.

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