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The Point Washington Update - October 31, 2013

In this edition of The Point:

Article #1

Excerpted from "An opening for the right," The Washington Post, commentary by Jennifer Rubin, October 27 - The Obamacare debacle challenges a number of liberal mantras that undergird a whole set of policies and campaign appeals. Here are the top 10 liberal tenets threatened by Obamacare:

  1. If there is a problem, the federal government should attack it.
  2. Government can compel people to act against economic self-interest by passing laws.
  3. There is no downside to big government.
  4. The welfare state is the best mechanism to help the poor.
  5. Those opposed to big government hate the poor.
  6. Government is capable of running highly complex systems effectively.
  7. When addressing big problems it is best to centralize and standardize.
  8. Unintended consequences of government programs are a small price to pay.
  9. People will trust the government with private decisions and personal information.
  10. Spending more and taxing more are evidence of concern for the poor.

All of these precepts have been challenged by conservatives, but there is nothing like a real example and personal experience to drive home a message. We don’t have just a few “glitches” or even a time crunch for putting up the exchanges, we have in Obamacare a fundamental misunderstanding of the limits of the government and citizens’ aversion to big, complicated entities. The effort to construct one big system with a highly regulated product (Obamacare-standard insurance) may in fact be the entire effort’s undoing.

Commentary #1

CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): “Our healthcare system is broken and badly in need of a fix. The root problem is that healthcare costs too much, so individuals and businesses can’t afford insurance. The Affordable Care Act, unfortunately, is built on the premise that most people’s health insurance programs are not adequate and all perceived inequities must be solved. So the law says preventative services and contraceptives must be free. It doesn’t allow surcharges for age or preexisting conditions. Children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. There are no lifetime cost ceilings. Plans must contain psychiatric, eye and other coverages that most insurance plans have not provided.

“I like all those things, just like I like all the bells and whistles on a Mercedes Benz 500 with its great ride and exquisite comfort. But I’ve never owned a Mercedes because I can’t afford one, just like most people in our country. I drive a Honda Civic and, you know what, it gets me there. We can’t afford the Affordable Care Act either. It will add a whopping $2.8 trillion to our healthcare costs over the next 10 years. Already, self-insured individuals are experiencing the reality of that sticker shock but they are no longer in a market-driven healthcare economy. They can’t buy a well-used insurance vehicle at an economical price. Only a Mercedes is adequate.

“We very well may be headed for a debacle. The ‘cure’ may be worse than the disease. If so, everyone may be so traumatized that they refuse to even give a hearing to a real solution.”

Article #2

Excerpted from "Should we pull back from politics?" blog posting by Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission - A recent profile in the Wall Street Journal highlighted a generational change in terms of the way evangelicals approach cultural and political engagement: toward a gospel-centered approach that doesn’t back down on issues of importance, but sees our ultimate mission as one that applies the blood of Christ to the questions of the day. The headline, as is often the case with headlines, is awfully misleading.

I don’t think we need a pullback from politics. I think we need a reenergizing of politics. Millennial and post-Millennial Christians are walking away from the political process, and this is what alarms and motivates me. They are disenchanted with movements that seem more content to vaporize opponents with talk-radio sound-bytes rather than to engage in a long-term strategy of providing a theology of gospel-focused action in the public square.

Those who wish to retreat are wrong. Ignoring so-called “political issues” doesn’t lead to a less politicized church but to a more political church. One cannot preach the gospel in 19th century America without addressing slavery without abandoning the gospel. One cannot preach the gospel in 21st century America apart from addressing the sexual revolution without abandoning the gospel.

A church that loses the gospel is a losing church, no matter how many political victories it wins. A church that is right on public convictions but wrong on the gospel is a powerless church, no matter how powerful it seems.

That means modeling a Christian political engagement that doesn’t start or end with politics alone. It starts and ends with the gospel and the kingdom of God. Those who oppose our convictions will hate us. Those who want to use our church voting lists as their political organizing tools won’t understand us. So be it. Kingdom first.

Commentary #2

CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: (excerpted from "MLK and Wilberforce show why Christians should engage more--not less--in public policy," Freedom2Care blog, October 23, 2013) Imagine a world bereft of the political engagement of Christian religious leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, abolitionist William Wilberforce and myriad lesser-known leaders like Jonathan Mayhew, whose sermons and writings helped undergird the American Revolution. Christian political engagement has helped secure racial justice, free slaves and throw off tyranny.

We demonstrate our faith in God by defending the defenseless, advocating for the poor, righting injustice. The political process offers one arena for such ministries. Public policy engagement for Christian believers means encouraging our countrymen to take faith steps toward God and His principles. To choose life, to defend the defenseless, to advocate for the poor and downtrodden.

With this perspective, we must not disdain but instead honor the ministry of working in the political realm as an evangelistic ministry. Rather than stepping back from politics, more believers need to engage in public policy, proactively advancing policies promoting the welfare of their countrymen and defensively advancing religious freedom for people of faith.

We can't desert the battlefield just because a few soldiers may have misfired. If some believers have fought political battles in an antagonistic way, let us show how to engage in a winsome way. If others have let bigotry and hubris mar their testimony, let us demonstrate Christ's love with grace and humility. If others have proven emissaries of ill will, let us serve as ambassadors of good will.

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Article #3

Excerpted from a book review by Michael J. New in The Washington Times, October 13, 2013 - a review of Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade by Clarke Forsythe - Clarke Forsythe persuasively makes the case that even under liberal standards, Roe v. Wade is still deeply flawed. That is partly because the public health data and the historical information that Justice Blackmun relied on in his majority opinion were often incorrect, incomplete or misleading.

For instance, public health research that purportedly showed that abortion was safer than childbirth played a prominent role in Blackmun’s opinion. However, of the seven studies that Blackmun cited, none was peer reviewed and none even considered long-term health risks involved with legal abortion.

The concept of viability was never once even mentioned during the oral arguments. Mr. Forsythe presents correspondence between Justices Blackmun, Thurgood Marshall and Lewis Powell showing that their decision to expand the abortion right to viability was not based on any legal argument, but instead because it would mean more access to abortion.

This expanded access to abortion has had a profoundly negative impact on public health. Mr. Forsythe details the numerous abortion clinic scandals that have come to light since 1973. He also ably summarizes academic research that shows that abortion is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and a higher incidence of various psychological problems. There is no evidence that Roe v. Wade significantly reduced maternal mortality, child abuse, spousal abuse, poverty or the out-of-wedlock birthrate.

Abuse of Discretion should engage readers outside the pro-life movement by making a compelling argument that even under liberal standards of jurisprudence, Roe v. Wade is a deeply flawed decision.

Commentary #3

Author Clarke Forsythe, Senior Counsel, Americans United for Life: “Abuse of Discretion details and documents the erroneous medical assumptions adopted by the Justices in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. The principal medical assumption was that 'abortion was safer than childbirth.' That drove the outcome and the shape of the Court’s opinions in Roe and Doe, though there was no evidence or reliable data to support that assumption. Abuse of Discretion thoroughly disputes the accuracy of that assumption in 1972 and today.

“Chapter 8, entitled 'Detrimental Reliance,' summarizes the contemporary international medical studies finding increased risks of, for example, pre-term birth after abortion.

“The Supreme Court has three abortion cases before it this fall, though the Justices have not yet decided to hear the merits of any of the cases. However, the medical data will be critical in these cases and in all future abortion cases in the courts.”

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