Pretend Negotiations

Some liberal pundits are complaining that Catholic groups should have negotiated instead of filing suit to stop the HHS Mandate from requiring them to provide their employees items against their beliefs.

But there are no “negotiations,” for several reasons.

First, meaningful “negotiations” do not exist if one side is pointing a gun at the other’s head. The administration did not suspend its anti-religious rule pending discussion. It finalized its rule with full force, and said maybe we’ll make changes after the election.


I love it when the government “negotiates” with me.

Second, the bishops’ critics don’t know administrative law. No new rule was proposed. HHS admits it doesn’t know what a new rule would look like.

Therefore, third, it is false that a new rule will issue on or shortly after June 19 when the comment period ends. It will take months to review the comments first (unless they never intended to consider those comments). Then the adminsitration would have to start the extensive notice-and-comment process all over again, because no rule has been proposed, so there is no rule to finalize.

Fourth, the administration took two essential matters off the table for any “negotiation.” It refuses to expand the mandate’s exemption beyond self-focused churches. For everyone else, it refuses to budge from forcing entities to help their employees obtain free coverage against the employers’ beliefs, under the fiction that it is “free.” The only thing the administration will “negotiate” is how to do this, not whether. So even if the fictitious compromise did exist, religious organizations would still need to sue.

Fifth, it is false that the administration’s anti-religious rule is not in effect until August 2013. The final rule starts August 2012. The 2013 “safe harbor” does not suspend the mandate–it just declares that the government won’t enforce it. But the mandate also allows private enforcement under 29 U.S.C. § 1132, letting employees themselves sue. Don’t think employees would sue? Get real. If the administration was serious about a “safe-harbor” it could have declared its final rule legally inapplicable. Instead it said our final rule is fully in force, but we’ll wait to fine you. And some groups don’t even qualify for the extra year. The “safe-harbor” is a head fake.

The USCCB’s comments to HHS last week make clear that even under the vaguely theorized “compromise,” (1) it is a fiction that employers won’t pay, and (2) regardless of who pays, employers must still help the employee get the objectionable coverage by giving them a plan directly enabling that coverage. The adminstration has refused to negotiate on this moral cooperation mandate.

The bishops’ critics essentially insist that everyone adopt their lenient moral theology. But it is illegal for the federal government to favor theological liberals and penalize others. Insisting on that arrangement is not “negotiation.”

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8 thoughts on “Pretend Negotiations

  1. Matt Roth says:

    The gun reminds me of St Thomas Becket’s words: If all the swords in England were pointed against my head, your threats would not move me.

  2. Discriminated Against by Catholics says:

    So much better to spend the laity’s money on lawyers than even put up the pretense of trying to negotiate. Sorry, but as long as you employ non-Catholics, or Catholics who want such coverage, it seems to me that you are pointing a gun at our/their heads, not the other way around.

    1. David K says:

      No-one is stopping these people getting their own contraceptives, which are freely available everywhere. And they certainly have no right to demand that others pay; let them buy their own.

    2. Joe M says:

      People seemed to be able to get contraception if they wanted to just fine for at least 50 years before this HHS mandate. Continuing in that manner doesn’t seem like a hardship or emergency by any reasonable standard.

      1. Sitting Liberal says:

        @ David K.: Then you have no right to expect non-Catholics to have to pay taxes to support Catholic education. Buy your own.

        @Joe M.: Golly gee, I suppose people did just fine before in terms getting all sort of health care before there was any kind of mandated coverage, right? Just buy some of your own aspirin and suck it up, heh?

        @ all: Think about what happens if you lose the court cases which is very likely. The coverage that you think oppresses you so much will be firmly solidified into more laws. If only you opted to negotiate, you would have had a good chance to get some exemptions. But no, you prefer to try to politically smackdown President Obama, much to the delight of all the liberals who are loving your myopic rigidities — because of the blowback that will consequently escalate. You have met the enemy and it is you. Yea, liberals are desperate and running scared – not!

    3. Randall says:

      Oh yes, let’s kowtow to the liberals who want to infest our places of worship and demand that we pay them to abort their babies. That sounds great! But seriously, I can’t wait for the day when not a single anti-Catholic lib is employed by us. We will fight this Obamination and we will win… and then the poor entitlement libs will have to get a job elsewhere if they want to sterilize themselves. And if they can’t get a job elsewhere… OH WELL! Guess they should have followed God’s teachings!

      1. stop the nonsense says:

        Entitlements? What about not having to pay taxes? What about the federal funding for Catholic education and research at Catholic universities which tremendously impacts on overhead costs? You are being subsidized by my tax dollars. Blowback time. BTW, you won’t be able to keep your institutions open and you won’t be able to hire anybody if you don’t take the money of laity who don’t subscribe to your right wing agenda. Don’t forget that a majority of the Catholic laity voted for President Obama. And finally, sterilization does not equate to contraception no matter how much you want to rant to make it so.

  3. victor says:

    This is my favorite post ever posted on this site because it has Tom Baker in it. More Tom Baker, please!

    Oh, and I agree with the post, too.

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