In the Proclamation On The Family, the First Presidency declared:
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
Many members of the LDS Church interpret this to refer only to the protection of traditional family units by preventing homosexual marriage. I believe this can and should be interpreted as a much broader statement. There are numerous other areas where family-strengthening policies can be implemented. These might include:Read more
In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles “solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”Read more
The Church is founded in the progressive idea that the leadership of the Church receives continual guidance rather than locked into an unchanging doctrine. From its start the Church and its people are engineered to be progressive.Read more
A common theme in the last Harry Potter book is how mystery can create terror. Voldemort and the Death Eaters are bad enough, but then not knowing when or how they're going to show up, what powers they have, or what, exactly, they're going to do, makes the good witches and wizards even more terrified.
Which brings us to the Affordable Care Act, and the latest (old) rumor to be circulating around: that Obamacare includes a massive wedding tax that's going to be levied against us Mormons and other upstanding people who are married or desire to be married, leading to a rash of divorce as people do whatever they can to avoid the tax, which will invade our communities and homes, leading to . . . well, I'll let you fill in the rest.
But it's just not so.
Here's what's going on:
1. As part of the marketplace, where insurance companies compete--in a market--for new customers (those of us without employer coverage, Medicare, or Medicaid), our nation is providing subsidies to those making less than 400% of the federal poverty line, so we can put in some of our money, taking responsibility for ourselves without breaking the bank.
2. Because our nation still holds to the traditional view that couples only start living together once they're married, it assumes that once two people are married, they save money by sharing housing and other durable goods. (What economists call economies of scale, just on a household level.) This economic situation is one reason church leaders teach against having children out of wedlock or getting divorced unless there are very serious reasons: it's much more expensive, on a per-person basis, to live as a single person than as a married couple.
3. In an effort to save taxpayer money, the designers of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) decided to take into account this reality of traditional marriage, and provide slightly higher subsidies to individuals than they would receive if they married one another and (presumably) started living together.
4. The Heritage Foundation, designers of the framework for the ACA, but now more of a partisan group rather than a (very conservative) policy shop, picks this effort to cut government spending and labels it a "federal wedding tax." (This is back in January of 2010.) This is the primary article that's circulating among my friends on Facebook. This gets picked up Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) almost two years later, though Rep. Issa, one of the senior Republicans in the house, is yet to champion a bill that would actually spend more taxpayer funds to increase the subsidies for married couples. (There's more on this from ThinkProgress here.)
5. Which brings us to today. With the roll-out of the marketplaces just days away, old bogeymen about the ACA are making the rounds again. It's absolutely fine to debate the proper level of subsidies for single and married adults, but whatever one's position: it's a gross stretch of things to call this a "federal wedding tax" or "Obamacare wedding tax." It's not a tax. It's just our nation trying to pinch pennies by assuming that married couples live together and benefit from this union.
When I was a full-time missionary, I quickly learned to ask people at the end of lessons, "What are your questions?" instead of "Do you have questions?" because everyone had questions but were often too shy to admit it. Whatever your questions about the Affordable Care Act, the marketplaces, no copays for preventative care, no more pre-existing condition denials, etc. go to Healthcare.gov, which was designed to answer them. (If you're just looking for a quick overview with cool graphics, you can go here.)
I'm a big believer in the idea that when folks are in good health, and find it economically feasible to visit a doctor for well and sick visits, they're better able to exercise their agency to the fullest. I think this is crucial for our community and our families. I welcome debate on the best way to reach this goal, with just one rule: don't make stuff up.
When I got married at the tender age of 22, I was politically informed, wanting to get more involved, and attracted to the good I saw in both major parties. Although I wanted something that fit with every single one of my Mormon values, I understood that both parties also had their drawbacks, and that the accomplishment of political good requires the building of diverse coalitions. My top priority: public policies that would help young people settle down and establish families. When I moved from Utah to Florida and the DMV asked for my party registration, I told them "Republican."
Being a Latter-day Saint in mid-00s, I watched the career of Governor Mitt Romney with great interest. And I was absolutely fascinated with MassCare. Using the power of the free market to help everyone get insurance while also guaranteeing a basic level of access to medical care, supported by Mitt Romney and Ted Kennedy? This will help families, not just those starting out, but all families. Go Governor Romney!
As the 2008 primaries got underway (in 2007...) I looked for someone on the Democrat side who looked like they would approach health care with the same pragmatism and grip on reality. I eventually settled on that new senator from Illinois with the funny name, and I sent off for the bumper stickers seen above: one on the right, and one on the left. (Much to the amused bewilderment of my neighbors and ward members for some time to come.)
Fast forward: Gov. Romney lost his primary. But that guy from Illinois won the general election, and then he did an interesting thing: he took the basic structure of Gov. Romney's plan (originally developed by the far-right Heritage Foundation) and turned it into a system for the whole nation. I was overjoyed: my wife and I would always, always be able to purchase health insurance, the options would be clearly laid out, and all plans would include basic care: all crucial things for families.
And like any policy proposal, the opposing side (in this case, the congressional Republicans) had issues with the law, but instead of working to make it better, they fought it, and continue to fight it. Despite all the campaign talk about strengthening and defending families, Republicans in Congress and in Washington are trying to break one of the biggest things that will help mothers and fathers raise their kids, work, and provide.
And then this week. Oh, boy. Top Republicans have unveiled their plans . . . not for campaigning against the law, or making it better, but doing what they can to make it fail. Reuters reports:
"With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage."
"Dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage." Wow. I have issues with how health insurance is generally run, and the new law doesn't fix everything I see wrong, but to actively tell people not to buy the insurance that will help them stay healthy or recover when they're sick or injured . . . As a historian, it's easy for me to get cynical as so much of what happens is a repeat of things that have happened in the past, but this, this is a new one.
Men and women in their 20s hear a lot about how they need to settle down, marry, and have kids, and generally speaking, this is what many of them want to do. The main reason many of my fellow youngsters don't: jobs are tough to come by right now, by which I mean real jobs with benefits, ones where a parent can earn enough to support a family. This is a crisis for small-c conservatism, where family formation and the continuance of society into the next generation is (I'm pretty sure) priority number 1. So what's FreedomWorks, that bastion of right-wing activity doing?
"The group is designing a symbolic 'Obamacare card' that college students can burn during campus protests."
I ended my membership in the Republican Party a few years ago, and even though I'm chairing an organization called LDS Democrats of America, I still want our representatives and thinkers in both parties spending their time working on supporting families and individuals and making our communities stronger. I had some hope, with the Senate taking a commonsense approach to immigration a few weeks ago, that we were getting there. Looks like we've still got a ways to go.
Family Home Evening: Jesus is my Example
John 8:12 “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Suggested Song: Teach Me to Walk in the Light (Hymn 304, CS p. 177)
What is an Example?
Play “Do as I do”. Each member of the family takes a turn as leader. The leader stands in front of the others and performs an action, like clapping, touching his nose, winking, or saying something. The rest of the group imitates his actions. Parents or the ones conducting the family home evening may want to be leader after the others have had a turn so they can introduce a few examples of reverent behavior for others to follow.
Discuss the idea of using Jesus as our example.
- Mark 10: 13-16 He loved the little children
- Mark 6: 53-56, 7:31-35 He helped the sick and those in need
- John 4: 6-10 He was kind
- John 8: 32 He taught the importance of truth
For the teenagers and adults:
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these,”
Roger sat at the dinner table, tired but happy. He had spent his entire Saturday at the university library studying for exams. His roommates had all gone out on dates or to the football game, but Roger stayed in, determined to keep his high grade point average. He had finally finished all his studies, and was beginning to prepare his Gospel Doctrine lesson about following the example of Christ for the next morning.
When the doorbell rang, Roger reacted with a frown. “Who would be coming here on a Saturday night?”
When he opened the door he found an unshaven, scraggly dressed man about forty years old. The man’s breath smelled of tobacco and liquor. “I just drove into town,” the man said, “and my car stopped right here in the middle of your street.” The man explained how he hadn't eaten all day and that his friend had a son attending the university whom he wanted to find. “Could you spare me a bite to eat, and then help me find out what’s wrong with my car? You could probably help me find my friend’s son too, couldn't you?”
Roger tried to think of an excuse. There were several other houses on the street in which families, not students, lived. They probably had more food. They probably didn't have to worry about teaching a Sunday School lessons and weren't as tired as he was tonight. Besides, this guy might even ask to stay the night. What would his roommates think if they came home to this man in their apartment?
On the other hand…Roger did know something about cars…
- What would you do if you were Roger?
- What would the Lord have you do? Why?
- Read Matthew 25: 31-46 and discuss.
Challenge: Find ways to care for others in the next week. Write them down and discuss them. What can we do to help those we don’t see every day? What good can we do to help those we may never meet?
LDS Dems Family Home Evening Program
LDS Dems and the Democratic Party have created a program to enrich the spiritual and political lives of members, encourage deep conversation, and invite others to participate in civic and Democratic activities. This program is based on the family home evening planning guides provided by the Church, and does not attempt to deviate, translate, or infer party politics on gospel truths. The LDS Dems FHE program is a tool for us to open up our homes to our communities, provide answers, understanding, and opportunity to participate in the great democratic process in Utah and our country.
These guides will be monthly. Invite friends, family members and neighbors to come over for a relaxing, informative, and uplifting gospel lesson. Feel free to use these guides and adapt them as you see fit.
Family Home Evening: Citizenship
12th Article of Faith: We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
Scriptures: Doctrine and Covenants 134; Mosiah 2:17
Being a good citizen means more than just obeying the laws of the land. It also means being actively involved in making our community the best possible place for all to live. As we become good citizens of our community, we are doing the will of Heavenly Father in that regard.
What are ways that we can become active in our community?
Have family members find examples of good citizens in the newspaper or magazines or think of someone in your city, at work, or in school who would qualify as a good citizen. Have them explain why the person they chose is a good citizen.
Challenge: List ways for each person in your family to become more active in the next month. Complete one of those suggestions as an individual or as a family.
Note: this post kicks off a new series titled "Think of the Family," in which we explore ways to strengthen (or at least stop hurting) the family.
Yesterday's Super Bowl blackout drew attention to the nation's less-than-stellar energy infrastructure. We'd like to draw some attention to a different problem in the same state: Louisiana recently announced that they would be cutting aid money to its poor, sick, and elderly. While some might blame the poor for their circumstance, we disagree: as we've argued before, the free market does not always reward hard work. Some might say argue these families will just get those services from the free market. We wish this were the case, but the politicians who made this decision even admit this will not happen in every circumstance:
Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said he targeted programs that were duplicative, costly and optional under the state’s participation in the state-federal Medicaid program.
Greenstein said in many instances, people can get the care they’re losing through other government-funded programs. But he acknowledged that won’t happen in every case, meaning some people will simply lose the services or receive reduced services. [...]
Jan Moller heads the Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates for low- to moderate-income families. Moller said he’s most distressed by the cut to the Nurse-Family Partnership Program.
The health department is eliminating the portion of the program that offers at-home visits to low-income women who are pregnant with their first child. Registered nurses visit the women early in their pregnancy and until their children’s second birthday, offering advice on preventive health care, diet and nutrition, smoking cessation and other child developmental issues. [...]
“What the Nurse-Family Partnership does goes above and beyond what a good obstetrician does,” Moller said. “It’s really about teaching life-skills to at-risk moms to make them better parents and make them better able to care for their children, and it’s been proven to work.”
As Sy Mukherjee at ThinkProgress points out, this means that families will be left high and dry in the state.
The cuts — as well as Jindal’s proposals to raise taxes on the poor while slashing public education and other health care funding — are meant to plug a midyear budget deficit. But they are more likely to raise health care costs and poverty levels in a state that already ranks among America’s least-insured and poorest locales by pushing people poor people into finding services that they will no longer be able to afford.
If there is one thing people on all sides of the aisle can agree with it's this: parents do incredibly important work. While not everyone wants or needs to be parents, there's no doubt that LDS Church leaders regularly preach the centrality of parenthood to the family, society, and eternity.
Parents of the world, we here at MormonLiberals offer you a big THANK YOU.
And, in the American economic market, that's basically all you're getting.Read more