Obama's Peculiar Idea of Fairness

Young wealthy females are entitled to free birth control, while poor elderly women could be denied dialysis treatments.

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.

The cost to fill up a tank of gas has gone up 83% since President Obama took office. This was not due to oil speculators or to events beyond Obama's control. Much of the increase can be attributed directly to Obama's energy policy to clamp down on domestic oil exploration, production and transport in favor of his pie-in-the-sky green energy initiatives and taxpayer-funded benefits to his green energy cronies. Through an out of control Environmental Protection Agency and other overly intrusive regulation bodies, extended drilling moratoriums and outright refusal to permit the Keystone pipeline project to move forward, Obama is fulfilling his campaign promise in January 2008 that, if he were elected, "energy prices would necessarily skyrocket." Before his nomination, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the Wall Street Journal, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” They are on their way to achieving their objective. While American consumers are digging deeper into their pockets to pay the skyrocketing price of  gas at the pump, American taxpayers are picking up the bill for Obama's political patrons in the green energy business. A case in point is Solyndra, the failed green energy company into which the Obama administration poured more than half-a-billion dollars of taxpayer money through its guarantee of a loan to the company at a time when its business was shaky. To add insult to injury, in an outrageous deal to try and keep the sinking ship afloat, the Obama administration arranged for private investors to be paid back before the taxpayers get back a dollar of their handout to Solyndra. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 states that all government loan guarantees “shall be subject to the condition that the obligation is not subordinate to other financing.” Nevertheless, with a straight face, Energy Secretary Chu - who, let's not forget, wants to artificially boost the price of gasoline at the pump we all pay - defended the Solyndra loan in his congressional testimony. He said that the loan guarantee had nothing to do with politics and was made entirely on the merits. The primary Solyndra investor just happened to be Obama's campaign donation bundler George Kaiser, who just happened to meet multiple times with one of Obama's closest aides, Valerie Jarrett. The Obama administration preaches that everyone should play by the same set of rules, while devising all sorts of shortcuts and special favors for its cronies that hurt the rest of us. President Obama's latest proposed budget punishes the oil and gas industries while lavishing subsidies on green energy industries. One of his proposals is to raise the tax credit for purchase of an electric vehicle from its current level of $7,500 to $10,000. One of those electric vehicles is the $46,000 Chevy Volt. Some celebrities have flocked to this car, such as Jay Leno who was quoted as saying "I just like its environmental technology and it is American technology." The wealthy celebrities in the 1 percent club who want to display their support for a fossil fuel-free environment can spend whatever they want on their left-wing cause du jour.  However, it is unfair for the rest of us who pay taxes to effectively subsidize their electric car hobby horse via the special $10,000 tax credit they receive for a car that many of us cannot afford. Obama's Justice Department is also violating Obama's call for "fairness" and "everybody playing by the same rules." Perhaps the most glaring example is the free pass the Obama Justice Department gave to the New Black Panther Party when it decided to drop a voter intimidation case against the thugs who were dressed in uniform in front of a polling place, waving night sticks. Career attorneys at the Justice Department thought the case should continue, but they were overruled. But Attorney General Holder had no qualms deciding to block South Carolina's new photo ID requirement intended to prevent voter fraud. President Obama's idea of fairness is little more than what benefits his cronies and his constituent base.