James Fallows of The Atlantic talks to weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz about President Barack Obama's compromise on providing reproductive services mandated by health care law after resistance from religious institutions and his latest cover story for The Atlantic on Obama's demeanor and a recent deal reached with five of the biggest banks in the country to pay back individuals whose homes were wrongly foreclosed on.
Well, every single state in the country will get a piece of that $26 billion to help troubled homeowners keep their homes, every single state except Oklahoma. The attorney general in Oklahoma decided to opt out of the multistate settlement to hold banks accountable for questionable lending and foreclosure practices.
Scott Pruitt is Oklahoma's attorney general, and he joins me now on the line. Attorney General, welcome.
Okfuskee County in Oklahoma is the birthplace of Woody Guthrie, who would have turned 100 this year. Much of the economic problems Guthrie sang about were from what he saw in the county, which was once the largest all-black community in the country. Guthrie's music still resonates there, especially in the town of Boley, where hope is hard to come by. Logan Layden of State Impact Oklahoma reports.
President Obama's latest proposed change in how contraceptives are covered by employer health insurance may not have ended the controversy that has raged for the past three weeks. But what the administration is calling an "accommodation" for religious employers has apparently mollified key allies who'd opposed his original plan.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, shown celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami last month, says the new birth control policy is a "smoke screen."
Credit Mario Tama / Getty Images
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, shown at Ash Wednesday services at Saint Patrick's Cathedral last year, has called the Obama administration's decision "a first step in the right direction."
Reaction from the Catholic community to the Obama administration's decision to revise its birth control policy was swift and mixed.
Under the new rule, employers with a religious objection to offering contraceptive coverage as part of their health care plans wouldn't have to provide it directly. Instead, the requirement to provide that coverage free of charge would fall on the insurance companies.
Some Catholics believe the president's new rule resolves the religious liberty issues. But others, including key bishops, say it is smoke and mirrors.