Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nudge-ocracy at work: Obamacare on abortion

Last year, The New Republic labeled President Obama as neither a pragmatist nor liberal; instead, it identified him as a “Nudge-ocrat.” Here is what that means: “Rather than force markets to conform to his wishes, he shapes their calculus so they conclude (on their own) that their interests coincide with his wishes.” Obama sees “…the appeal of manipulating incentives and altering the context in which we make decisions.”

The TNR piece focuses on economics, but I found him speaking this way on abortion too. During his campaign, he said he wanted to see the number of abortions go DOWN, but he wanted to do that by creating conditions in which women would CHOOSE life; he did not want to directly restrict abortions.

One week into office, Obama put his philosophy into practice, but not in the way he promised. The President reversed the Mexico City Policy so federal tax dollars could pay for abortion overseas i.e. he created the conditions in which it would be EASIER to choose an abortion.

The latest debate is what Obamacare will mean in regards to abortion and here again I think you can see Nudge-ocracy at work. This is what will happen to Private Insurance Companies:
In a section entitled "Prohibition of Use of Public Funds for Abortion Coverage," she [Rep. Lois Capps (D) of California] proposed that insurance companies set up two separate accounts -- one filled with money from the federal government, and one with money from consumer premiums. When a consumer sent in her premium check, it would go into the premium account; when the federal government kicked in its share, the money would land in a different pile. Insurance companies would then have to guarantee that abortions would be paid for only by money in the account made up of premium dollars, not from the account filled with taxpayer dollars.
The following analogy illustrates what is going on above: Imagine a man who wants to purchase a firearm, but doesn’t because he has to pay his monthly mortgage payment. He asks you to lend him the money so he can make the purchase, but you refuse on the grounds of pacificism; nevertheless, you do lend him the money to pay his mortgage payment. He subsequently buys the gun. What just happened? Technically, he bought the gun, not you, but you INDIRECTLY made it possible.

In the abortion case, the insurance company will have money freed up to pay for abortions due to government subsidies. Conditions are created to make the choice for abortion EASIER. Ross Douthat explains this point well:
“And yes, the health care bill, as passed, effectively tilts public policy in a more pro-choice direction: The fact that women are required to write a separate check for abortion coverage means that public money isn’t literally paying for abortion, but it doesn’t change the fact that federal dollars are being spent in ways that make it much easier to obtain abortion-covering insurance.”
The Nudge-ocrat strikes, albeit indirectly and subtly, again.

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