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HHS mandate pushes nation closer to statism

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court treated this nation to a shameful exercise last Wednesday. It heard arguments, forced by the Obama administration, that Christian organizations, notably, the Little Sisters of the Poor, had to provide health insurance to pay for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives.

All of which are repugnant to the sisters’ vows, onerous to what these Catholic and other Christian institutions have stood for over 2,000 years. In plain English, what the Obama administration wants is that these groups, which are sworn to preserve life, instead embrace a culture of death.

Beyond that, the federal mandate is a long stride in a militant march to statism, another brand of dehumanization.

Statism means our people, following regimes in industrialized Europe, must meekly move in one ordered direction no matter how noxious or painful the objective: for example, Obamacare, the Iraq War. It means that no community – no matter how small or selfless – may disagree in any respect with what nameless bureaucrats have decided. Statism slithers in the dark. It scorns democracy.

There was no vote on this mandate. There was no House or Senate debate, let alone congressional hearings. The mandate was concocted by a cabinet secretary in the Obama administration, and perhaps blessed by the president himself, then passed on to the apparatchiks in the Department of Health and Human Services to fill in the blanks.

The HHS published orders in the Federal Register effecting orders that Christian organizations pay for birth control devices and pills and surgery. The HHS allowed time for the religious targets to comment, then made the orders final. That was four long years ago.

The posture at the White House was that somebody in Health and Human Services wanted this to promote women’s health, and that the president was caught in the middle.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was at first incredulous that the government would, by regulation, claim the right to decide what was truly a religious organization.

After Dolan saw the president in the Oval Office four years ago, the archbishop was confused no longer. Obama has had years to exempt these Christian organizations, but he won’t.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says the Little Sisters, habited nuns running 27 homes for the elderly poor, can be forced to pay $70 million a year in fines if they lose the case. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has exempted ExxonMobil, Visa, Chevron, PepsiCo., the City of New York and the military from the mandate.

The death of Antonin Scalia, an associate justice of the Supreme Court, could effect a 4-4 deadlock on the court, meaning that the mandate could remain in effect for a time. Except for the president’s stubbornness, it would not even have been in court.

But the damage has been done – to the protections of what Americans can expect from the Constitution, from the rule of law instead of regulation and from Congress.

Many dear readers asked last week what can be done about the loss of factory jobs to Asia and Mexico. Amherst industrialist Jack Davis says free trade deals have idled or underemployed 12 million Americans. He believes our treaties should mandate taxes on imports from any country that sells us more than we sell it. Davis endorses Donald Trump, by the way.

Another way is to declare China and others with undervaluing their currency to make their exports artificially cheap, and fight it out in world trade courts. Obama and his predecessor have declared China is not cheating – 15 times. Look around you! The Economic Policy Institute says China is the world’s worst cheater, and it is.