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October 20, 2017 Charles Heintel 1Comment

Executive Orders should not take place of legislation.

Time and time again, the popular opinion on the left has been that the government and your boss should not make healthcare decisions for you, but instead you and your doctor should. The Trump administration’s decision to end the mandate that employers must provide contraception to their employees through their health insurance implements this with little to no government intervention. (You can read about the mandate in Part 1.) The government is granting freedom to insurers and employers to refrain from partaking in something contrary to their religious beliefs. Somehow, not doing something is being construed as “taking over women’s healthcare.” It is very uncommon to meet someone who thinks the government should make birth control decisions for women, let alone somebody who thinks birth control should be illegal. It is dishonest to pretend that is a threat. Even if more than a trivial fraction of people held that belief, it’s clearly not what repealing this rule does.

Employers should have every right to include whatever they want in their employees’ health insurance, just like they can decide how many days of vacation you get. You have no inherent right to certain benefits. If your employer reduces the number of vacation days allotted to you, they are not stealing from you or denying your rights. The same logic is present in healthcare. If your employer reduces what is covered in your health insurance, you can be mad at them, but they have not wronged you. It should be noted that you may only have that coverage in the first place because the government forced your employer to give it to you. If you don’t like the benefits you get, you can take it up with your boss or get a new job; don’t blame the President and call him sexist.

The argument that says Republicans should not oppose the rule that Trump is getting rid of because birth control decreases the amount of abortions is relatively weak. The first questionable assertion in this argument is the claim that increased birth control decreases abortions. While this may seem like common sense, there is no statistical consensus on the matter and prominent pro-choice groups have said that more birth control would not mean less abortions. More importantly, the argument makes the critical assumption that if you want something to happen, you should have the government force people to do something in order to accomplish that goal. It presupposes that if you want a product to be more accessible, you should force people to pay for it.

Perhaps many leftists are falling into this trap because they often take the approach that if something is “good,” the government should spend on it, no matter the cost. There are plenty of reasons the government shouldn’t spend money on something, even if the object of the spending is “good.”  For example, conservatives are sometimes called heartless when they suggest that government programs with good intentions shouldn’t exist or be established because the cost and other side effects are too great. Socialized healthcare is well intentioned but if it costs too much and if it has many serious negative side effects, it should not be implemented.

“It is repugnant for the government to force anyone to go against his or her deeply held religious beliefs.”

What many are forgetting is that there are people in this country who simply don’t believe government force is a fair solution to everything. Republicans are typically united in believing that the government shouldn’t be overly involved in the economy. They simply don’t think the government should force you to do or not do certain economic activities. It should not be too hard to imagine that some people just don’t want the government fining employers if they don’t do what the government wants them to. Republicans have a lot of room to improve when it comes to valuing freedom and opposing government interference. But they have applied the principles of liberty well in this case.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it give Congress the power to demand employers give employees certain benefits. Nowhere in the Constitution does it give the federal government the power to regulate what happens in healthcare whenever its wants to. They might have some power if health insurance were interstate commerce, but it’s not because you can’t buy health insurance across state lines (at least before last week). One could argue that Congress has the power to regulate employment contracts but this would only apply to certain companies and situations that could be truly considered within the domain of interstate commerce. In that case, Congress would have the power to regulate if it wanted, but Congress has no obligation to put any regulations in place.  Fundamentally, the Constitution gives Congress the power to make laws, not the executive branch. Powers delegated to one branch cannot be legitimately delegated away to a different branch or group. Thus, it is entirely inappropriate for the president or his executive agencies to make regulations; rather, this should be done by Congress. Former President Obama had no business telling employers want to do.

It is repugnant for the government to force anyone to go against his or her deeply held religious beliefs. Everyone knows that the first amendment protects religious freedom, but politicians like to conveniently overlook that. Trying to give organizations partial “accommodation” is not a legitimate solution and it wasn’t accepted by the dozens of groups who sued the Obama Administration. Although the Supreme Court cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, no statute in addition to the Constitution is necessary to decide that the HHS mandate was unconstitutional as it denied religious freedom and allowed government to overstep its limitations of power

A future president could easily reinstate the mandate, and the following Commander-in-Chief could get rid of it again. America could teeter back and forth. This is entirely different from how legislation is supposed to be enacted. It is supposed to be difficult to pass because a majority of Congress is needed. This is just one example of how unconstitutional executive orders disrupt our constitutional republic. The concept of religious freedom should also remind us how our freedoms are intended to operate. The Bill of Rights is not an exhaustive list of our rights. This is undeniable, historically and from a common-sense standpoint. An individual shouldn’t have to cite freedom of religion or freedom of speech to be allowed to do or not do something that does not deny anyone else their rights. You should simply be permitted to live your life as you see fit, without aggressing upon others. You should be free to form whatever employment contract you wish, to use whatever contraceptives you wish, to provide whatever insurance you wish, and to grant your employees whatever benefits you wish.

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  • TZ

    Wow! What disingenuous drivel!

    Your understanding of Constitutional law is either weak or you are a propagandist. Commerce clause still rules, virtually all commerce has substantial interstate effects. See Wickard vs Filburn (1942). This is a stupid argument. Clearly, the Republicans would have brought a challenge if this reasoning were viable.

    You can buy insurance across state lines, you just have to meet the standards of the state in which you are selling. health insurers are nation wide companies (which makes it interstate commerce as well). What a silly argument!

    Employee benefits such as health insurance are part of the compensation package provided in exchange for services rendered. Why should an Employer’s religious views be forced on its employees? By the way, the government did not force employers to provide healthcare, the employers agreed to provide them in lieu of higher wages. Obamacare, provided regulation in an attempt to reduce insurance costs by increasing the pool of covered people.

    Any religious views that say a god has declared birth control immoral are just BS. There is no evidence that god exists. And if he did why would he care about birth control? Just pure nonsense. Screw your god, he has no power.

    It is repugnant for an employer to force his or her deeply held religious beliefs on his employees.

    Employers need to follow the law and provide certain employee benefits all the time. It is called democracy. Employers are not superior beings. There is no inherent right to be an employer. There is no inherent right to have your religious views forced on others.

    What a bunch of right wing nonsense. Grow up.