Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The lie that works is the lie with at least a particle of truth.
This is the case with the outraged feminist response to the Hobby Lobby ruling. Conservatives were frozen in disbelief in 2012 as the “war on women” campaign swept in votes for Obama, and they are equally amazed now as the Democrats plan to make Hobby Lobby a campaign issue. How can it possibly work?
It might not be as effective this year as in 2012, but there’s no doubt it resonates with a certain segment of voters. It works in part because amid all the disinformation there’s a kernel of truth in the feminist response, something conservatives entirely agree with: an employer’s beliefs shouldn’t restrict a woman’s healthcare options.
Conservatives don’t usually get to this point — not because we disagree with it but because we do not believe it can trump the employer’s basic religious liberty. Further obscuring the point, the debate has been closely tied to abortion, which most of us don’t view as a healthcare option anyway. This issue is a must-win in the struggle to maintain religious liberty in America. However, our fellow citizens are more likely to continue to respect religious liberty when they see that it need not conflict with their other values. We’ve argued that Obamacare unnecessarily creates such a conflict, but the seeds were already in our system.
Let’s isolate that particle of truth and remove its sting by addressing the underlying problem: why is a woman’s health insurance (or, obviously, a man’s) chosen by the employer in the first place?
As an independent, capable woman, I resent the paternalism implied by a policy that expects me to depend on my employer to take care of me and make insurance decisions for me. I don’t want my employer to provide health insurance. I want them to pay me, not the insurance company, and let me choose for myself.
In the past, conservatives have proposed an individual tax credit for health insurance to balance out the employer tax credit. This is an idea whose time has come. It’s far from a complete healthcare solution, but it is a simple, marketable idea Republicans could unite around. It clearly contrasts with Obamacare’s philosophy, and answers the genuine dilemma that’s overlooked in the Hobby Lobby fallout.
“Why should my employer’s religious beliefs affect my health care?” We’re going to be hammered with this. In response, we can (and should) emphasize religious liberty. We can explain how overblown the issue is, that the vast majority of women are completely unaffected, that an employer’s failure to provide something doesn’t mean there is no access, etc. The argument that a woman could just spend her own money to buy contraceptives (or anything else) is legally legitimate — but utterly ineffective politically.
But we should seize the point of agreement: “You know, I agree with you. I don’t think you should be forced to depend on your employer for health insurance. You should have options if you don’t like what they offer. That’s why I support the Empowering Americans to Make Healthcare Choices Act, which increases your purchasing power for individual insurance. That way, if your employer’s policy has restrictions you don’t want, or if your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, you can say ‘no thanks’ and go choose whatever you want.”
Of course, this requires the repeal of Obamacare. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.