Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pocket Full of Horses

Warning: this post is really just a juvenile excuse for passing on some political trivia, which I'll save to the last paragraph.

Liberals today are getting worked up about the coming battle over contraceptive coverage under the ACA.   The key article is by Dana Goldstein.   See also commentary from Kevin Drum, who frets that Barack Obama will try to duck the issue, and from Scott Lemieux, who gives the standard feminist argument that (as this fight will, he believe, confir) that anti-abortion politics is all about nothing more than controlling womens' sexuality.  It's worth noting that some pro-lifers would agree with this interpretation, but not all of them, leaving it contested whether or not pro-lifers who claim to be only concerned with "life" issues in fact have a broader agenda.

My substantive contribution is that this is a good excuse to remind everyone how much of government -- how much policy-making -- takes place outside of the "how a bill becomes a law" story.  I don't want to say outside of Congress, because just as it's a mistake to assume that the president is only involved in legislation once it gets to his desk, it's a mistake to believe that Congress's work is done after they pass the bill.  In fact, Members of Congress, committee and subcommittee chairs, will be able to affect upcoming regulatory decisions on health care by holding (or threatening to hold) hearings, by using the budget, and by helping activists and interest groups mobilize.  Of course, those activists and interest groups play a major role, too.  So do presidential appointees, who may or may not follow the president's wishes, and career bureaucrats, who again may have policy agendas of their own.  And this is a fight we hear about because (1) it affects people's lives in obvious ways; (2) there are already-organized groups who believe that they're better off with publicity; and, well, (3) there's sex involved.  So imagine how many government policy fights are going on that don't meet those criteria.

OK, is that enough content added to justify this item?  Hope so, because, really, I just wanted an excuse to remind everyone that George H.W. Bush, during his time as a Member of the House, picked up the nickname "Rubbers" because of his advocacy for family planning. 

1 comment:

  1. Please tell me that the title to this post is a reference to this video:


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