Friday, October 12, 2012

Obamacare: An issue of morality

ObamaCare is a word coined by those who oppose the Affordable Care Act, but President Obama has embraced the term. If we re-elect him and preserve it, a new study shows we’ll soon begin to see powerful results of the law on one of the biggest factors leading to poverty.

Imagine for a moment that there is a medicine with no significant side effects, which if given freely to those who want it, prevents a condition that causes 34 out of a thousand young people to miss significant work time, often leading them to leave the workforce or drop out of school. People who live with the condition are usually affected for at least 18 years, and many fall into poverty and require government assistance during some or all of these years, especially those who have recurring bouts of the condition. In order to avoid some of the effects of this condition, on average fifteen of a thousand elect a procedure that is considered shameful by many.

By now, you probably realize I’m talking about pregnancy, and the medicine to avoid it is birth control. A recent two year study of 9,000 young women in St. Louis that got little fanfare  (small notice near the classifieds in the Charleston Gazette, Oct. 5th ) shows dramatic results in reducing teen pregnancies and abortions.  According to the AP release, “When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives—the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars…” The result was 80% fewer teen pregnancies and one-third the abortions of national averages. As Ed Rabel pointed out in his recent entreaty to improve sex education for our teens (Charleston Gazette, Oct. 8), West Virginia, with the 8th highest rate of teen pregnancies among states, has potential to reduce rates even further.

Even if the only legacy of ObamaCare were a dramatic national reduction in teen pregnancy and abortion, the program would likely be seen in the future as having significantly reduced poverty and largely solved a thorny national problem.  Imagine how many girls might avoid the pitfalls of young motherhood and instead finish school, find gainful employment, and then marry and raise a family when they are better prepared emotionally and economically for parenthood. Imagine how many children will avoid the fate of being raised by an overburdened, underprepared teenager or shuffled around to relatives or foster parents who may only grudgingly care for them. Yet birth control is just one of many provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are likely to improve health and reduce poverty.

I would think the pro-life movement would rally behind ObamaCare once they learned of its dramatic effectiveness in reducing abortion, not to mention the expected impact on poverty. To someone opposed to abortion, someone who believes abortion is tantamount to murder, would it not in these circumstances be immoral to oppose provisions in the Affordable Care Act that provide for birth control without co-pays? Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on many issues before and during his run for president, but he continues to say at every opportunity that he would repeal ObamaCare on day one of his presidency. This is one more reason not to allow him a chance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Romney Can't Buy Our Votes

A lot has been made of Romney’s 47% remarks, surreptitiously recorded while he spoke to wealthy donors in Florida about the difficulty of getting Obama supporters to vote for him. And rightly so—he said that the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it… my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

In fact, many have pointed out, the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income tax are mostly the elderly and working people who don’t earn enough to reach the threshold of paying income taxes, though they pay Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes, commonly known as payroll taxes. It’s the way our tax system is structured, to encourage people to work rather than tax them back into deeper poverty at the lowest income levels. It’s the way Bill Clinton, with cooperation from Republicans, insisted the tax code be restructured in “Welfare to Work” legislation. Many of those who do not pay federal income tax are not Obama supporters, or at least they weren’t before Mitt spoke so disparagingly of them.

What every pundit I’ve heard has overlooked is what Romney was actually trying to communicate to his rich friends: “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.” In other words, the main reason Romney believes people will vote for him is to save money on taxes. He reveals another truth: Republicans are for low taxes because that buys votes, not because, as they claim, lowering taxes creates jobs (there are better ways to stimulate job growth). Romney is saying they can’t buy the votes of Obama supporters because, he claims, most Obama supporters don’t pay income taxes, which he says he’d lower.

Really? Does Mitt Romney believe, do Republicans believe that Americans base their votes solely on how much money they think the winner will save them on their tax bill? Well, I pay plenty of income tax, and Mitt, to paraphrase the Beatles song; I don’t care too much for money. Money can’t buy my vote.