Doc Dynasty: House Deals with Health Care Curveballs
The White House must be having fun blowing through its $52 million ObamaCare advertising budget, because it just gave itself another two and a half weeks to spend it. The administration, which never met a deadline it didn't like to postpone, confirmed the delay late last night to the Washington Post's Amy Goldstein.
For HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the optics are less than flattering. Exactly two weeks ago, the health care boss sat before the U.S. House and insisted that the sign-up cut-off was firm. Asked if she was going to delay open enrollment beyond March 31, Sebelius replied, "No, sir." Her answer was echoed by Julie Bataille, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- who, unlike the rest of the administration, seems to understand why it shouldn't. "We don't actually have the statutory authority to extend [it]..." she admitted.
Unfortunately, the limits of executive authority never seem to stop this President. Under this latest "joke" of an announcement, as House Speaker John Bohener (R-Ohio) called it, Americans can qualify for an extension through an online honor system that gives them extra time if they "tried" to meet the deadline. If only the President were operating by the kind of honor system that holds him to his word on his own legislation.
While the administration seems eager to avoid the law they worked so hard to pass, officials don't seem nearly as concerned about giving relief to doctors and businesses suffering because of it. This week, Congress will do what it can to help the medical community by agreeing to a bill that would protect doctors from a 24% pay cut on April 1. Under this "doc fix," physicians would have a one-year reprieve from the reduction in fees ordered by Medicare. While both sides were hoping for a more permanent solution, they butted heads on how to offset the $137 billion for a long-term fix.
In the meantime, most of the country's attention has been on the one part of the law the administration has no desire to postpone: the HHS mandate. After yesterday's Supreme Court arguments, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood were cautiously optimistic that their objections to the policy would be sustained. Under the mandate, both family businesses would be forced to pay for health insurance that violates their religious beliefs -- or face crippling fines of up to $100 per day, per employee.
FRC's Cathy Ruse had a prime place for sharing her analysis of the Supreme Court case: USA Today. In the counterpoint to the paper's editorial, Cathy explains why the mandate is not only a job-killer, but a freedom-killer. "The Obama administration has already let millions of individual insurance policies off the hook for reasons far less compelling, a fact the justices noted at oral argument. Yet it fought these family businesses all the way to the Supreme Court. Respecting conscience is a tradition Americans hold dear. We should not abandon that tradition now."
Nor should Americans abandon these families! Join FRC, Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Rick Santorum, and the 20,000 people who have already signed up in showing your support on #HobbyLobbyDay this Saturday, March 29. Click here to find out how!
The Missing Link between the FBI and SPLC...
For years, the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) bragged about its work with the FBI. Together, their partnership on issues like "hate crimes" helped fuel the Obama administration's fierce targeting of mainstream pro-family groups. That ended this month -- at least publicly -- as the FBI became the second government entity to distance itself from the controversial organization.
The move to delete SPLC links from its webpage went virtually unnoticed until today, when the Washington Examiner's Paul Begard reported on the change, which he called "shocking." This is just the latest rejection of the extreme anti-Christian group, which was also shunned by the Obama Pentagon after a recent flare-up over its training materials. Despite being linked in federal court to domestic terrorism, SPLC has remained a go-to ally of the Obama administration as it seems to silence conservative organizations. SPLC, the self-anointed authority on "hate," has made a name for itself stereotyping pro-marriage Americans -- the kind of characterizations that led Floyd Corkins to walk into FRC with a plan to kill as many people as possible. Fortunately, the FBI is sending a strong signal that it will no longer take advice on "extremism" from terrorist-guiding SPLC.
To Begard, the FBI's shunning of SPLC is a significant rejection of the group, which is best known for its reckless labeling of what it calls "hate groups." "The website scrubbing," the Examiner points out, "came in the last month after 15 family groups press Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey to stop endorsing a group -- SPLC -- that inspired a recent case of domestic terrorism at the Family Research Council." But what was most interesting to Begard wasn't what the FBI said -- but what it didn't say. Asked for comment, the agency had none. The FBI "offered no explanation" for cutting ties with SPLC on its "hate crimes resources" page, despite the longevity of the partnership.
Of course, FRC would be the first one to say that the group's anti-Christian propaganda is inconsistent with the FBI, the military, and any other branch of the Obama administration hoping to reinforce SPLC's religious intolerance. For now, we join millions of Americans in thanking the Bureau for recognizing real extremism when they see it. Let's hope this is just the beginning of the end of SPLC's influence in the federal government.
So Help Me [Censored]
Last year, you may recall anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein lost his battle to outlaw "so help me God" in the Air Force Academy's oath. Later, the Academy stirred confusion after it removed the phrase "so help me God" from three oaths in the 2012 edition of their cadet handbooks. After Congress got involved, Air Force officials told Congress that "it was an editorial oversight" -- one the team is hurrying to correct before next year's edition. And then, two weeks ago, the Academy embroiled itself in controversy again after a Bible verse written on a whiteboard was erased following complains by Weinstein.
Members of Congress began asking for an explanation in a hearing with Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh, who casually dismissed the concerns as "perception." But these incidents are fueling much more than "perception" among the Air Force Academy cadets who report a climate of increasing religious hostility. The FRC-led Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition has often stated in media interviews that it stands ready to provide legal assistance to cadets who face repercussions for living out their faith. The coalition has gone a step further and placed a billboard just outside the academy asking cadets a simple question, "Are you free to say 'So help me God?'"
The answer is yes! Air Force Academy cadets have the constitutional right to exercise the very rights that they will be expected to defend upon graduation. As General Jerry Boykin, FRC's Executive Vice President said, "If such faith scares faculty at the Academy, then it is unlikely they will be very effective when confronted by a committed enemy who is willing to die for his or her beliefs."
We will not stand by while religious expression is suppressed. Please join me in praying for and standing with those serving in the Air Force and in all the uniformed services. If you haven't already done so, please join nearly 28,000 others in signing our petition to the Air Force Superintendent respectfully asking that she protect the religious freedom of the cadets.
** Just days after the Supreme Court heard arguments on the HHS mandate, hear from one Congresswoman doing her best to repeal it. Tomorrow, March 27, at noon, FRC is honored to welcome Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) to a special policy lecture on "Health Care and Conscience Rights." Make plans to join us either in-person or online by clicking here!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.