Been There, Shunned That
Ask any PR expert and they'll tell you: the pitch is just as important as the product. On Thursday, President Obama is betting his political life on that theory, as he takes a relatively unchanged Senate health care plan and tries to repackage it for the American people. Instead of unveiling a new bill that incorporates a more moderate approach, the President's latest proposal is a cheap knock-off of the legislation that passed in the Senate on Christmas Eve. Although it does purge the sweetheart deals for Senators Ben Nelson (D-Nebr.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the White House claims the plan will only cost $1 trillion over 10 years.
We'll have to take the President's word for it since the Congressional Budget Office announced that the proposal can't be appropriately scored since "the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions." Among other things, the bill would require Americans to buy health insurance and fines employers who don't provide it. Of course, the issue of utmost importance to pro-lifers is whether the President's September statement holds true: "Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."
False! Under the administration's "new" plan, this bill would be the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade--with a big chunk of the proposal tagged directly for groups like Planned Parenthood. Despite public opposition, President Obama reverted back to the Senate's language, which would force taxpayers to fund abortions even if their state opts-out of the coverage. Using a phony argument that the money would be segregated, the government would still draw from taxpayer pools to cover a procedure that Americans overwhelmingly reject. The President missed his opportunity to adopt the most popular piece of reform, Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-Mich.) outright ban on government-funded abortion.
To make matters worse, the White House is upping the ante on the Senate's abortion bailout, asking for $11 billion in "community health centers," which can easily be redirected to groups like Planned Parenthood. The President's package also includes Sen. Barbara Mikulski's (D-Md.) amendment, which would allow the administration to define abortions as "preventative health services" and force private insurers to cover them. As it's currently written, the $6 billion in grants for health co-ops doesn't include a single abortion restriction--nor does the Indian Health Services program. With the health care summit just days away, the onus is on Republicans. They can expose the President's credibility gap on abortion and kill the bill--or sit silent and risk the momentum that got them there.
Senator Joe Lieberman may have flirted with a moderate stance on health care, but he is certainly making a mad dash for the Left on gays in the military. In somewhat of a surprise move, the Connecticut Independent has announced that he'll be the face for President Obama's push to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." During an interview with the New York Daily News, Sen. Lieberman said, "My own experience as a member of the Armed Services Committee, visiting our troops on bases here in this country and abroad, particularly in war zones, the most remarkable quality you'll find is unit cohesion."
Ironically, the cohesion he admires now threatens to fall completely apart if liberals succeed in their campaign. Next week, the House Armed Services Committee will host its second hearing on the issue, while all four chiefs of the military will be on Capitol Hill this week to answer questions about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. If you haven't already, we encourage you to add your name to the tens of thousands who have already signed FRC's petition to Congress, urging members to stop waging a culture war on America's soldiers and let them focus on the jobs at hand.
Indiana and the Last Crusade...
What better place to talk about the crossroads of the church than in the "Crossroads of America"? Tomorrow, FRC is hosting a free regional pastors briefing for our friends in Indiana. The event kicks off at 9:00 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis and features a great line-up of local and national leaders who can speak to the challenges facing the church. I'll be there, as will FRC's Dr. Kenyn Cureton, Curt Smith, President of the Indiana Family Institute, and Kevin Theriot and Joel Oster from the Alliance Defense Fund. Lunch is included, so come on out and connect with other ministers from your area. For more information, click here. Walk-ups are welcome!
* CORRECTION: FRC's policy lecture, "How Did the Early Christians of Rome Defeat Pagan Sexuality?" with Dr. Peter Jones is this Thursday, February 25. Sign up today! *
** CLARIFICATION: In an item last week on Walmart and P&G, one of the sentences could be read to suggest the pair is sponsoring the 2010 Values Voter Summit. They are not, although FRC does look forward to partnering with them to promote family-friendly programming! **