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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 02:57 PM ET, 02/10/2012

Santorum: Insurance shouldn’t cover birth control at all

As I noted below, whatever the politics of contraception for Obama, his shift could very well turn this into a wedge issue against the GOP, as more and more Republicans are asked whether (like the majority of Americans) they think insurance companies should be required to cover birth control.

Well, here’s Exhibit A. Rick Santorm tells Sam Stein he’s against Obama’s new proposal, because insurance shouldn’t cover birth control under any circumstances:

The Huffington Post asked Santorum whether he was placated.
“No,” he replied, “not at all.”...
Elaborating on why he opposed the revised version of the Obama contraception rule, he explained that he didn’t believe insurance companies should cover contraception at all.
“This has nothing to do with access,” he said. “This is having someone pay for it, pay for something that shouldn’t be in an insurance plan anyway because it is not, really an insurable item. This is something that is affordable, available. You don’t need insurance for these types of relatively small expenditures. This is simply someone trying to impose their values on somebody else, with the arm of the government doing so. That should offend everybody, people of faith and no faith that the government could get on a roll that is that aggressive.”

Here you have more evidence that the resurgence of social issues could work against Mitt Romney. As the above shows, Santorum is perfectly comfortable speaking the language of the culture warrior, and it’s likely that this will increase pressure on Romney to flatly state his own opposition to requiring insurance companies to cover contraception — and even to insurance companies covering it at all.

After all, this is a position that’s strongly supported by the GOP base. In the new Fox poll, 71 percent of Tea Partyers, and 52 percent of conservatives, disapprove of requiring insurance companies to cover contraception. Given the passions that have now been whipped up around the issue, and especially since Obama has now stamped his name on this policy idea, it’s not hard to imagine that this could become a litmus test issue for GOP candidates — like Romney. Particularly since Romney, thanks to Santorum’s presence, is facing new pressure to connect with religious conservatives.

Yet embracing this position could be toxic in the general election, because large majorities support the use of government power to compel insurance companies to cover birth control. In the Fox poll this position is supported by 61 percent overall, 58 percent of independents, 53 percent of men, 67 percent of women, and by majorities or pluralities of virtually every age and income group. Santorum doesn’t care about this, since he’s a culture warrior. Romney will care about it. But he may have to own the unpopular postition, anyway.

By the way, we still haven’t heard from virtually all of the GOP leadership and a whole range of GOP officials on Obama’s proposal.

Update: Polling numbers fixed. That’s 58 percent of independents who support requiring coverage of birth control.

By  |  02:57 PM ET, 02/10/2012

 
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