Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jonathan Zasloff is being very interesting over at the Reality Based Community.

I guess I should give permalinks although they are consecutive posts.

In random order, he asks who should be on the energy team. I have already expressed my view on this issue. I think the Reality Based Community should be the energy team.

He asks "Where is Joe Stiglitz ?" I add what about Paul Krugman. Look the problem is simple, Stiglitz is not a team player. You ask and Summers is he a team player ? The answer is clear -- yes if the team is an administration. If you hire Stiglitz he *will* embarrass you later by resigning and criticizing you.

OK now the big one. Appealing to evangelicals and reducing the abortion rate. Here, I think, Zasloff creates a false dilemma.

Consider Gilgoff's prescription:

For Obama to break the overwhelming Republican dominance of evangelicals in 2012, he’d likely have to deliver on a classic evangelical issue — for instance, pushing legislation aimed at reducing demand for abortion.

Maybe. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio has sponsored an act that would work to reduce ... abortions by providing better prenatal care and adoptions services to pregnant moms. Several observers, most notably EJ Dionne, have praised the bill and said that Obama should support it (which I think he will).

But the problem is that that might not be the best way to reduce abortions.

If one if to believe the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which studies these things (although it also has a strong pro-choice bias), the most effective way to reduce abortions is the provision of contraception. The government could for example ensure that contraception is covered under Medicaid, or even mandate that it be part of any health insurance policy.

So ? Why do we have to choose ? The Ryan bill provides assistance to people in need. Even if one were not just pro-choice but pro-abortion one should support it. One should not allow the best to be the enemy of the good (and lose votes too).

Most importantly, there is no need to put all abortion reduction regulation into one bill. Increased access to contraception can be presented as a public health issue (for condoms) and a gender justice issue (for all other contraceptives).

The religious right will be against it in any case. There is no way to convince them by noting that the policy will reduce the number of abortions.

So a bill to help mothers sold as a measure to reduce abortions and used to win evangelical votes and a separate bill sold as a public health/women's rights issue which will also reduce the number of abortions if it is passed over the objections of prominent evangelicals (although I would guess supported by most evangelicals whose reproductive rate shows that they would expect to personally benefit if they think you can take from insurance companies with no problem as I bet they do).

Sometimes you can build a coalition by joining policies each of which is supported by one group. Sometimes its better to build two coalitions by pretending that closely related policies are separate.

I'd say that, this time, it is a no brainer.

No comments: