Surprise! Obamacare regulation aimed at Catholics is unpopular

February 17, 2012

I am certain several of my lefty friends will be stunned to read this (TWS):

CNN reports:

Half of all Americans say they oppose the Obama administration’s new policy concerning employer-provided health insurance plans and their coverage of contraceptive services for female employees including those at religiously affiliated institutions, according to a new national survey.

CNN’s results are roughly the same as two other recent polls: Rasmussen found that voters opposed Obama’s policy 50% to 39%, and Pew found that voters opposed the policy 48% to 44%. A CBS/New York Times poll seems to be an outlier: It shows 61% of Americans support Obama’s policy

CNN mentioned the CBS poll too, without mentioning a crucial caveat – there was no mention that religious organizations and individuals would have provide contraceptives and abortifacents in violation of their beliefs. Pew and Rasmussen were more specific on this (DC Examiner). Surprisingly, CNN’s question is much like the CBS version – and the Administration still ended up on the wrong end of the numbers.

How, exactly, did this happen? I humbly submit three reasons.

First, the Administration misjudged the lay Catholic response. I’m guessing Obama and Sebelius simply assumed that because most American Catholics use artificial birth control themselves, they wouldn’t be too upset at forcing their priests to provide it free of charge. In other words, they simply do not understand the relationship between priest and parishoners. Most Catholic parishes are small geographically (“mega-churches” are nearly unheard-of), and thus most Catholics know their priests quite well. As such, discussions on issues – such as artificial birth control – arise from time to time (my parents brought this issue up themselves with our pastor a few years back). The conversations vary from place to place, of course, but in nearly every case, the priest carefully and intellectually explains his point of view. How many lay Catholics are convinced is up in the air (my parents weren’t, as I recall), but we all come away understanding and respecting the priest’s view. For the Administration to show such callous disregard for our priests is infuriating to many Catholics. Whether Obama et al planned this or not (and I don’t think they saw this coming), they made it about our friends in the priesthood, and put themselves on the wrong side.

Secondly, they included abortifacents in the mandate, which all but insured the entire pro-life community would weigh in. It also changed the nature of the conversation for many non-Catholics. Pro-life Protestants may not worry about contraception, but chemically-induced abortion is another matter entirely. As such,every argument the Administration has used comes off as irrelevant and insulting to a large group of Americans – and that’s never a good idea.

Finally, the Administration made Obamacare an issue all over again. For months, Democrats have tried to hide or avoid Obamacare due to its unpopularity. This mandate just shoved it right back in everyone’s face. It’s as if someone decided the American people needed a reminder of how much they can’t stand the president’s “biggest domestic achievement.”

There is a deeper lesson in all this, however, namely that Saul Alinsky didn’t understand everything about American politics. Obama did exactly what Alinksy taught: he picked a target, froze it, personalized it, and polarized it (I should note that this particular little list in some form predated Alinksy by, oh, about 200 years). What he didn’t expect was that the target would stand up to him; freezing it meant nothing since it had no intention to move; personalizing it insulted everyone with personal ties to priests; and polarizing it drove tens of millions of uninterested Americans away from him.

In Alinsky’s world (and Obama’s), mobs win because “targets” are afraid of them. When the “target” does not have that fear, the Alinsky model breaks down. That is the critical lesson here.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Iberiabank to Uncle Sam: Thanks but no thanks

February 27, 2009

The first of what may be a trend (CNN):

Iberiabank Corp. became the first bank to pull out of the government’s bailout program Friday, saying it would be returning the $90 million it received from the government in early December under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

. . .

TARP has helped provide stability to the banking system overall but recent changes would put IBERIA (IBKC) at a disadvantage, said Daryl Byrd, the bank’s chief executive.

“We believe recent actions, interpretations, and commentary regarding various aspects of the program places our company at an unacceptable competitive disadvantage,” said Byrd in a statement.

What aspects, you ask?  Why, having Geithner et al tell them how to run their bank (same link, emphasis added):

Due to highly publicized losses at larger institutions such as Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Congress has tightened restrictions on recipients of TARP funding, noted Andy Stapp, senior analyst with investment research firm B. Riley & Co.

“A lot of these small-cap banks remain profitable, and it just doesn’t make much sense for the government to try to dictate the way they should operate their business,” said Stapp, adding “I think you’ll see more banks returning TARP money.”

Kudos to Iberiabank for recognizing – and reminding the rest of us – that there is no such thing as government help without strings attached.

In the UK, "every parent in the land" is at risk for identity theft now

November 21, 2007

The British government’s admission that it has lost the personal financial data of 25 million people continues to reverberate. The best synopsis comes from the Spectator (UK) Coffee House (emphasis added):

There were genuine gasps of amazement in the chamber when (Minister) Darling unveiled the scale of this disaster. If you have a child, and receive child benefit, your bank details are right now on the loose. Sort code and account number, together with your address and age of your child – details of 25m people in 7m families: every parent in the land. This data goldmine was downloaded onto two CDs on 18 Oct by a “junior official” (the fact that it’s so easy to do this is, is in itself, an outrage) and sent from HM Revenue Customs & Excise in Newcastle to the National Audit Office in London (who say they never asked for such detail in the first place). The CDs never arrived. And no one has a clue where they are.

A couple of initial thoughts:
1) If I’m Gordon Brown, I tell my Labor party cronies to get ready for the next election in 2010 – and then pray the WBK War goes so bad that he can use the World War II precedent and extend Parliament past that date. Why do I say that? Check out this line from the Coffee House’s Fraser Nelson: “the British public (feel) . . . raw, visceral hatred towards this government . . . we have just witnessed Labour’s Black Tuesday.” The last line was a mirrored reference to the Conservative Party’s “Black Wednesday,” when market forces drove the British currency off the Exchange Rate Mechanism – a moment of spectacular economic mismanagement and political embarrassment that soured British voters toward the Tories and has kept them out of power in every election since.

Black Wednesday was in September of 1992.

2) While most reaction involving government policy has been to hail this is the “death of ID cards,” I think we may see a greater revulsion against government programs of all kinds. Keep in mind, this fiasco happened because the British government was collecting data for a public benefit for children – exactly the kind of entitlement program we have here for people of all ages. In this era of electronic transfers, data sharing, and identity theft, the government program that in the past meant “free” money with the vague concern of overreaching government now means an open invitation to becoming a victim of fraud.

Moreover, when the greatest enabler of said fraud is found to be the very folks trusted to keep the data secure, more and more voters may look at the next (or even current) set of entitlement programs the way Dr. McCoy viewed the Genesis project (Thinkers and Jokers):

Spock: “I do not dispute that in the wrong hands–“

McCoy: “‘In the wrong hands’? Would you mind telling me whose are the right hands, my logical friend?”

If I’m right (and that’s an admittedly big “if”), the welfare state may finally have met its match, and we’ll have an incompetent, lefty Labor government to thank for it.

Your (well, their) government at work, losing the personal data of millions

November 21, 2007

I can almost hear Leslie Carbone and Rick Sincere screaming in my ears . . .

From “across the pond” in the UK (the news, not the bloggers) courtesy of Brit Tory blogger Iain Dale (emphasis added):

I have a pensions policy and an endowment with Standard Life. I’ve just heard that the financial details of 15,000 Standard Life customers have been lost by HM Customs & Revenue. On top of this HM Revenue & Customs have lost more personal data in a much wider breach of security. It is scant consolation that the Chairman of HM Revenue & Customs has taken responsibility and resigned. I suppose it is too much to ask for a Treasury Minister to take responsibility too.

UPDATE: Unbelievable. They have lost 7.5 million records relating to child benefit. There has to be political accountability here.

To make matters worse, what wasn’t lost was sent via the mail to constituents (Dale again, emphasis added):

I’ve been contacted by someone who, a few weeks ago, wrote to their MP enclosing a copy of a CD containing confidential information about HMRC Tax Credit Office clients that had been sent in error by HMRC to him.

This person had called HMRC asking for a CD audio copy of telephone conversations they’d had with HMRC when discussing their Tax Credit award. HMRC sent them a CD not only with their recordings but with two hours’ worth of recordings from people right across the country containing bank details, NI Numbers, addresses, phone numbers, details of which schools people’s children went to etc.

I’m told the MP forwarded the letter and CD to a Minister asking if they could ascertain if this was a more widespread problem within HMRC. So far, no reply has been forthcoming.This seems to be further evidence that this misuse of public data is widespread within government.

If HMRC has breached the Data Protection Act then presumably they can be held liable in the courts – by 15 million people… The mind boggles.

As one would expect, it has become a major scandal in Britain, where the Labor government (now under the control of Gordon Brown, and thus a barren field for Bush-haters) is trying to force all Britons to carry national ID cards (on that, Dale chimes in: “Today marks the death knell of identity cards” – I hope and pray he’s right).

Dale has quite a few other witty observations on the debacle (here, here, here, here, here, and here) – and for those counting, the number of Britons affected by “lost” data now stands at 25 million (Conservative Home) – but the best quote so far comes from this Dale post:

Ronald Reagan once said that the most frightening sentence in the English language is . . . Trust me, I’m from the government and I’m here to help. Never a truer word spoken, especially today.


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