Family Research Council

September 13, 2013 - Friday

Black Keeps Americans out of the Red

The federal government already takes advantage of taxpayers' money. The last thing it should do is stand by while fellow Americans do the same. Yesterday, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) took the first step in cracking down on the abuse that's bleeding into the health care law months before the policy even takes effect! Under ObamaCare, Americans can apply for direct health care subsidies -- if they are in a certain income bracket.

Earlier in the summer, Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it wouldn't be setting up a system to verify those claims until late in 2015. In the meantime, anyone could apply for a health care subsidy and lie about his income just to get the federal benefits. It has been estimated that fraudulent applications could total tens of billions of dollars.

That's unacceptable, said House Republicans, who yesterday voted 235-191 to prevent that kind of abuse with an income verification process that kicks in when the law does. "You can't go into a store, restaurant, or gasoline station and pay on the honor system," Rep. Kevin Brady said. The same should apply here. "This bill would protect American taxpayers from staggering amounts of fraud and abuse in ObamaCare exchanges by simply requiring that ObamaCare live up to its original guarantee in the original law -- that only those who certify to be eligible for taxpayer-subsidies receive them," Rep. Black explained.

Amazingly, only five Democrats sided with Black in her crusade to weed out widespread -- and expensive -- Obama phone-type dishonesty and corruption. Even the President, who insists he's fighting for the American taxpayer, released an official statement opposing Black's proposal -- officially putting the Democratic Party on the record as pro-fraud. Hopefully, the vote will help expose the Left's hypocrisy on a law that they passed -- yet refuse to support. Hats off to Rep. Black, the Republicans and the five Democrats who are fighting to keep Americans honest.

FRC Flies Concerns by Air Force Brass

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin spent four years at the Pentagon overseeing vital aspects of national security. Yesterday, FRC's General returned to his old stomping grounds on a different mission: securing the rights of service members to exercise their faith. Together with members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition, which FRC launched back in July, General Boykin met with senior Air Force officials to express our concerns -- and the concerns of so many of our brave men and women and their families -- about the outright hostility Christians are experiencing in today's ranks.

From official reprimands to threats of court-martial, our troops are under fire for beliefs on marriage and family that, until recently, defined the proud tradition of the U.S. military. Thanks to you, General Boykin had more than observations to share -- he also had hundreds of thousands of petitions. Five overflowing boxes, filled with 218,988 petitions to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, were delivered to senior Pentagon officials urging them to stop the faith-based persecution against members of our military.

As General Boykin said later, the meeting was a positive one that focused -- not just on religious liberty in the Air Force -- but across the service branches. It was obvious from their comments that Air Force officials realize there's a problem with certain commanders infringing on troops' freedom, and they were committed to dealing with it. We appreciate their offer to review decisions made by commanders at various bases that do not reflect Air Force policy. At their request, we will report future events and concerns directly to Air Force leadership.

After a series of troubling incidents involving chaplains, the coalition members were assured in the meeting that chaplains would not be forced to do anything that violates the tenets of their faith. We also requested that the Defense Department and the Air Force issue a definitive statement regarding the issue of evangelism and proselytization -- especially in light of the conflicting Pentagon press releases floating around since the first service members came forward with their stories.

Before the meeting ended, General Boykin made sure the Pentagon had copies of our report, A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military, which documented a lot of the incidents of persecution, harassment, reprimand, or general religious suppression FRC and partners raised in the meeting. Hopefully, the eyes of the Defense Department will be opened to these new threats. Thank you to everyone who signed our petitions and raised their voice in support of the brave men and women on the front lines of the battle for our country and our culture. It makes a difference!

The Power of the Penn

Isn't it amazing that we live in a time when doing the right thing and upholding the law makes news? Yet that's exactly what happened in Pennsylvania when a district judge fought to restore order in a local clerk's office. For the past several weeks, Montgomery County Register Bruce Hanes, has been exercising a power he doesn't have: issuing same-sex "marriage" licenses. Hanes argued that the Supreme Court's ruling, which struck down a single section of the Defense of Marriage Act, authorized him to start handing out licenses to any homosexual couple that applied.

Nothing could be further from the truth, writes Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini. The judge sided with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who made the commendable decision to take Hanes to court for violating state marriage law. "Unless and until either the General Assembly repeals or suspends the Marriage Law provisions or a court of competent jurisdiction orders that the law is not to be obeyed or enforced, the Marriage Law in its entirety is to be obeyed and enforced by all commonwealth public officials," Pellegrini wrote.

The victory was a crucial one, especially as more state and local officials try to take the marriage issue into their own hands with no respect for the people's will or the law. Hopefully, Judge Pellegrini's decision and Gov. Corbett's persistence will encourage other leaders to take a similar stand for the rule of law. In the meantime, maybe someone could forward Pellegrini's ruling to President Obama and remind him that his culture of lawlessness cannot -- and will not -- stand.

** On today's edition of "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," FRC's Senior Fellow, Policy Studies Peter Sprigg and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Policy Chris Gacek will be guest hosting the show. Joining them to talk about New Jersey's recent ban on sexual orientation therapy is the Director of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) Arthur Goldberg. Also, Randy Wenger who is the Chief Council for the Pennsylvania Family Institute will be on to discuss the Pennsylvania judge that struck down a county clerks' effort to give same-sex partners' marriage licenses.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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