The Blunt Amendment: Be careful what you wish for, with charts

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says there will be a vote on Senator Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) anti-contraception amendment — to, of all things, the transportation bill. [LVSun]  The vaguely worded amendment isn’t a good idea, but that won’t stop Senate Republicans from trying to get Senate Democrats on record in favor of The Pill.  Oh, Please, with a nod to the otherwise unknown American Breed:  “Bend me, shape me, any way you want to, as long as you love me it’s all right.”

The trick to these ceremonial votes, of course, is that BOTH sides go on record, and from a Democratic perspective what’s not to love about having the Republican Party on the roll call record against requiring the coverage of contraceptive prescriptions as a part of basic health insurance plans?  Especially when 66% of Americans believe that private health insurance plans should provide full coverage for birth control.  And to Question 75 (And what about for religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university – do you support or oppose a recent federal requirement that their health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female employees?) 61% responded in the affirmative. [NYT CBS pdf]

In addition to being off target in terms of popular opinion in the U.S., the GOP is also opening itself up to the charge that the current flap over contraception is a way to further the interests of the health insurance corporations who would very much like to put severe limits on what can be called “basic coverage.”  Every premium dollar these corporations expend on actual health care is one less buck for their bottom line. Hence, if employers can opt out of contraceptives, vaccines for children, transfusions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, psychiatric care for Scientologists, or all chemical based treatments for Christian Scientists… (we get the picture, and so did Jon Stewart in his “Vagina Ideologues” moment.) Mother Jones puts it this way:

“If Republican leaders get their way and Blunt’s bill becomes law, a boss who regarded overweight people and smokers with moral disgust could exclude coverage of obesity and tobacco screening from his employees’ health plans. A Scientologist employer could deny its employees depression screening because Scientologists believe psychiatry is morally objectionable. A management team that thought HIV victims brought the disease upon themselves could excise HIV screening from its employees’ insurance coverage. Your boss’ personal prejudices, not science or medical expertise, would determine which procedures your insurance would cover for you and your kids.” [Mother Jones]

The Tea Party attachment to the interests of the health insurance corporations may be a tenuous hand hold, the NYT/CBS polling shows one trend not all that conducive to election success. The YES responses to the following question:

There’s another home made chart to which the members of the Congress probably ought to be paying more attention:


The “lack of approval rating” may be a function of Congress’s inclination to pander to right wing activists while NOT engaging in serious efforts to address issues of far greater importance to the American public.  There’s a homemade chart for that too:

Meanwhile back in the U.S. Senate, Senator Blunt’s tip of the hat to the insurance corporations and the radical right will get an “upper’down” vote, and the objections to it from the National Women’s Law Center will remain unaddressed.  Nor will the radical right necessarily respond to the question in regard to why allowing an employer to determine the coverage included in an employee’s health care plan protects anyone? [Mother Jones]

And, just a reminder — the religious organizations in their capacity as employers are NOT required to include contraception services in their plans, but if they don’t then THE INSURANCE CORPORATIONS would have to offer individual employees contraception prescription coverage. So, NO, this isn’t “just like making a Muslim or Jew eat pork.”  A more apt analogy would be to say that if an institution doesn’t approve of pork or beef consumption, then the employees are perfectly free to go the supermarket and get their own.

Life will go on in the U.S. Senate today, but Senator Reid’s comment on Senatorial matters may have some traction with a populace already disposed to complain about government and the politicians who run it:

We have wasted weeks in this Congress, months in this Congress on dilatory tactics,” said Reid. “[W]e have wasted valuable time sitting around doing nothing … it’s really unfortunate.”  [The Hill]  Indeed, the Blunt Amendment is a waste of time and effort when there are far more important topics to be debated — like JOBS.

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