Atone Deaf: President's Apology Lacks Action
Barack Obama spent the first couple years of his presidency apologizing to other countries for America's past "wrongs." Yesterday, his apology tour finally made a stop at home. Boxed in by his tanking approval ratings, late-night beatings, and a Country Music Awards spoof that everyone's still talking about, the President offered a belated "sorry" for the epic mess left behind by his administration's biggest lie: "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it." To the millions of people who lost their insurance over the past few weeks, the President said, "I'm sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me... We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this."
That's great, say most Americans. Now, what are you going to do about it? Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) welcomed the apology, but insisted it was no substitute for action. "If the president is sincerely sorry that he misled the American people, the very least he can do is support this bipartisan effort. Otherwise, this apology doesn't amount to anything." And it's not as if there aren't legislative options for the White House to consider. The House put everything from full repeal to implementation delays on the table, only to watch them wither away in Sen. Harry Reid's Senate.
Today, Congress will have another way to hold the President's feet to the fire, if members line up behind Rep. Fred Upton's (R-Mich.) Keep Your Health Care Plan Act, a jab at the string of broken ObamaCare promises. With 130 cosponsors, the Energy and Commerce Chair hopes to do what HHS hasn't: let health care plans that are currently on the market continue through next year -- and give Americans the chance to keep enrolling in those policies without penalty.
Speaking of penalties, married couples are already facing plenty of them. Turns out, ObamaCare isn't just breaking up coverage options -- it's breaking up families too! There's so much not to like about ObamaCare that it can sometimes be difficult to sort out all of the problems. From the beginning, one of FRC's biggest objections to the law (in addition to the taxpayer funding of abortion) has been its bias against married couples. Under this massive new entitlement, some spouses will pay thousands of dollars more for the same coverage as unmarried live-ins.
A Brooklyn couple became the face of this failure when they told local media that they were considering divorce, because the system intentionally punishes married couples. "After ObamaCare rolled out, we realized that we would save thousands of dollars if we got divorced," said Nona Aronowitz. She and her husband Aaron explained that as a family of two, they make more than the $62,000 level to qualify for subsidies under ObamaCare. But, Nona found, if they lived together unmarried, they'd qualify for the subsidies and potentially save hundreds of dollars of month on insurance. In other words, the law is actually incentivizing the collapse of families and rewarding a living arrangement that leads to a host of social ills like out-of-wedlock births, poverty, academic failure, abuse, and more.
And unfortunately, it's not just the health of the family that would suffer. In Oregon, the Health Evidence Review Commission is making liars out of everyone who claimed ObamaCare would not lead to rationing. As part of the state's new rules in preparation for ObamaCare, the Commission requires Medicaid to deny coverage for cancer patients deemed "too" sick for treatment. The restrictions are covered in a stunning new article called "From Eugene to Eugenics."
From the end of life to the beginning: a New Hampshire Planned Parenthood chapter, which was operating as an ObamaCare "navigators" was dispensing a lot more than health care advice. This week, the group (whose 21 clinics raked in $145,161 to help promote the law), was sued in state court for giving out illegal late-term abortion pills. If Planned Parenthood can't follow existing law, why would the government trust it to represent its newest one?
For Two Chaplains, a Cross Examination
If Monday is when America honors its veterans, then one San Diego agency has a funny way of showing it. The city's Department of Veterans Affairs has reportedly spent the last several months persecuting two of its chaplains for their faith. Today, both men are suing the San Diego VA Department for religious harassment -- which led to one chaplain dropping out of the program altogether. Military-Veterans Advocacy filed the suit on behalf of the Baptist group that acted as the men's endorsing agent. "No American choosing to serve in the armed forces should be openly ridiculed for his Christian Faith," said attorney and Commander J.B. Wells (USN-Ret.).
According to court documents, the head of the VA's Clinical Pastoral Education Program ordered the men not to pray in Jesus's name or recite Scripture, mocked and yelled at them, and even threatened to fail them. The ridicule became so intense that one of the chaplains voluntarily withdrew from the program. The other was put on probation by the boss berating them. If this is the kind of harassment military chaplains are receiving (in a chaplains' faith program!), imagine what non-clergy troops are facing for living out their faith in the ranks. All you need to do is flip through FRC's Clear and Present Danger report or watch the real-life testimonies of mistreated Christians to know that there is a war going on for the soul of our nation's military. "Barack Obama's fingerprints are not on most of these acts, but his anti-religious attitudes are widely enough known to encourage those on the public payroll to charge ahead with extremist politically correct policies," Phyllis Schlafly warned.
Fortunately, Congress is waking up to this climate of hostility in the ranks and is putting itself in a position to do something about it. Just this week, two members cosponsored a bill to protect something as simple as the word "God" in the service academies' oaths. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), a veteran who spent seven years as a POW in Vietnam, made it clear that he would stand in the way of any attempts to destroy the hundreds of years of religious tradition in the military. "Our Founding Fathers declared we are, 'One nation under God,' and you better believe I'll fight like mad to keep it that way... We are the land of the free because of the brave. Many people don't know this but when you survive a near-death experience you realize that the only thing you had to hold onto was your faith in God."
Contact your congressman and urge him to speak up against the country's anti-Christian zealots. Then, join FRC this Sunday in Military Freedom Sunday -- and encourage your pastor to lead the congregation in a prayer of protection and gratitude for America's brave men and women and their families. For more information, click here.
Israel Speaks Its Peace
Our own Tony Perkins wasn't the only one meeting with leaders in Israel this week. Secretary of State John Kerry also made a stop in the holy land -- but with a far different mission than FRC's President. This week, as Tony's been meeting with key Israeli civilian, religious, and military leaders about the threats to their country, it's clear that they understand better than anyone how to interpret both the words and actions of those in this region who seek to do them harm. Israelis value and want the friendship of the United States, but they know the region much better than we do.
While the motivation has been honorable, in most cases, our Western solutions have not solved many of the challenging problems of the Middle East. But we continue to think that our parliamentary democracies can take root in sands where only desert despots have ruled in centuries. Lacking experience of genuine democracy, and having no appreciation of religious freedom as the necessary precondition of democracy, the many rulers in this region are not likely to reciprocate Western promises of aid and diplomatic support. They take American gold and continue to oppress their peoples -- especially their Christian minorities.
Israelis can be assured of this much: Millions of Evangelicals in America are praying for you and for the peace of Jerusalem. But we understand that peace often comes through strength and we will be loud in our support for the actions you must take to defend yourself against those who seek your destruction. We know that when Israel strikes, she strikes for us, too. To read more about Tony's trip and observations, "Israelis Defend Yourselves -- and Us!"
** After yesterday's disappointing Senate vote on ENDA, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, Tony offered his reaction in a feature column for the Washington Times, "A High-Minded Threat to Religious Liberty." Also, don't miss Ken Blackwell's take on the President's decision not to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield on the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's historic address, "Obama a No Show at Gettysburg; Thank Goodness!"
*** If you missed this week's policy lecture with Dr. Hilary Towers, Mike McManus, and Beverly Willett, click below for the video of "Devastation: Why Divorce Must Decline for America to Prosper."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.