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President Obama is making his call for “fairness” and for “everybody to play by the same rules” the central theme of his re-election campaign. Those platitudes may sound nice on the campaign trail, but Obama’s policies are neither fair nor even-handed. For example, President Obama is taking $500 billion from the elderly via planned cuts to Medicare in order to help fund his massive new Obamacare entitlement program. A wealthy female employee will have the government-mandated right to free birth control under her employer’s health insurance program. Meanwhile, an elderly woman of modest means who has kidney disease could possibly face the prospect of being cut off from access to affordable life-saving dialysis treatment if the government decides it is no longer cost-effective to reimburse her. This is not what most Americans with common sense would consider “fair.” At the same time, the Obama administration’s policy on handing out waivers from Obamacare mandates is discriminatory. Its union friends receive plenty of waivers. According to the Daily Caller, labor unions representing 543,812 workers received waivers from Obamacare’s mandates since June 17, 2011. Nearly 20 percent of last May’s waivers alone went to businesses in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s California district. When it came to dealing with religiously affiliated organizations who have moral objections against paying for free birth control for their employees, however, the Obama administration was anything but generous in granting any waivers. After first trying to impose the mandate of providing free birth control – including abortifacient contraceptives – directly on the religiously affiliated employers such as Catholic hospitals and charities, Obama came up with a phony “compromise.” He announced on February 10th that it will be the responsibility of the health insurance plans for which Catholic and other religiously affiliated organizations pay premiums to offer free birth control to their employees, even if being indirectly involved in paying for birth control is in violation of the deeply held religious beliefs of the employers. Here is what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had to say about this shell game:
[W]e note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.
Aside from the Obama administration’s First Amendment problem which the so-called compromise does nothing to solve, Obama’s disparate treatment of unions and Catholic organizations when it comes to granting Obamacare waivers is yet another example of Obama’s two sets of rules. There is the lenient set of rules for his union cronies, who get the Obamacare waivers they requested. And then there is the much stricter set of rules for religious organizations, who will still be shelling out the money to the insurance companies that now become the direct instruments of the Obamacare free birth control mandate. The Obama administration also has a more lenient set of rules when it comes to accommodating Muslims’ exercise of their religious beliefs. The Obama Justice Department, for example, ordered an Illinois school district to pay a Muslim teacher $75,000 because the school district had denied her request for a special unpaid three week leave of absence in the middle of the school year for a pilgrimage trip to Mecca. Never mind the burden imposed on the school to line up substitute teachers to cover her class while she is away, as well as the possible disruption in her students’ learning environment without their regular teacher. And never mind the fact that the pilgrimage takes five or six days, not the three weeks the Muslim teacher demanded. The Obama administration rushed to court to vindicate the Muslim teacher’s “right’ to interrupt her responsibilities during the school year to take part in a pilgrimage. The school district settled the case because it could not afford the cost of lengthy litigation against the federal government. As part of the settlement, the district will also be required to provide mandatory training on religious accommodation to all board of education members and school supervisors. But the Obama administration offers nothing meaningful to accommodate the religious beliefs of devout Catholics who object to being forced, directly or indirectly, to help pay for the Obama administration’s policy of mandating free birth control in employers’ health insurance policies for all employees who request it. Obama’s peculiar sense of fairness extends to other areas of policy as well. Let’s take energy, for example.
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