GOP Ready to Confront the Passed
The House wasn't planning to be in session next week, but after today's announcement, it's a good thing they've changed their minds. Members will need all the time they can get to launch the most aggressive strike against ObamaCare yet. To the cheers of conservative activists everywhere, Republican members of the House emerged from a closed-door meeting this morning with the news everyone was waiting for: the GOP is ready to fight.
After weighing dozens of options, House leaders are going "all in" on the push to defund the worst mistake of Obama's presidency. "It's time," said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), "to protect American families from this unworkable law." For now, "protecting America" means backing Rep. Tom Graves's (R-Ga.) plan, which would hitch the vote to defund ObamaCare to the continuing resolution (or CR, the short-term budget bill).
Before the government's cash officially runs out at midnight on September 30, conservatives are offering to raise the debt ceiling for a year and keep Washington running with a $988 billion budget extension. In exchange, they want to put ObamaCare on ice until 2015. But here's the best part. If Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) doesn't take the deal, his party will be forced to shut down the government -- to protect a law that a majority of Americans don't even want! Unlike other proposals, Tom Graves's measure would not only solve the problem of abortion funding in health care, but put a cease-fire on conscience violations.
Obviously, it's a politically risky strategy for both parties. Even if Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are ready to take on the Senate, there's still the very real possibility that the President won't take the dare. At this point, though, even the temporary reward outweighs the "what ifs."
As outraged as Americans are over ObamaCare, their frustration with the GOP's handling of the situation is a close second. For some of them, this debate is eerily similar to the "cut, cap, and balance" debate -- when House leadership voted to slash spending, only to throw up its arms when the real negotiating with the Senate began. Conservatives applaud the GOP's decision and expect them to stand their ground against this unprecedented attack on faith, family, and freedom -- regardless of what Harry Reid does.
If it does come to a government shutdown, 51% of voters will back them up. According to Rasmussen, a majority of Americans would support cutting off Washington if it means putting off ObamaCare. Eighty percent of GOP voters agree with us: it's more important for their party to stand for what it believes in rather than cower to the President's liberal demands. And while 79% of Democrats think a shutdown would be bad for the economy, it won't be nearly as bad as ObamaCare is proving to be.
"Every member in this room is for defunding ObamaCare while letting the rest of the government continue to operate," said Speaker Boehner. "We're going to put ObamaCare defunding directly into the CR. And then we're going to send it over to the Senate, so our conservative allies over there can contribute to the fight. That's where the fight is." For now,America's fate is tied to the bill by Tom Graves. Voters put Republicans in power, now let's see them use it.
Deep in the Heart of Taxes...
If you want to engage in free speech, prepare to be taxed! That's the message from the IRS, where new documents are showing just how deep the roots of ideological corruption go. In the most powerful display of political profiling yet, USA Today leaked new paperwork proving that IRS was not only targeting conservative groups, but any groups that participated in "emotional" or "anti-Obama rhetoric." A whopping 162 groups were flagged by IRS agents for extra scrutiny on their tax exempt applications -- only 11 of them liberal.
The scandal, which grabbed plenty of headlines when it first broke, fell off the radar during the Syria crisis. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, these new revelations are putting the agency where it belongs: on the hot seat. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) made sure of that today in a Ways and Means Committee hearing with acting IRS Director Daniel Werfel. "Four months after the IRS admitted to targeting applicants for tax-exempt status, there are still many outstanding questions about when the targeting started, who knew about it, and why it was allowed to continue." Boutany's goal -- like ours -- is to ensure this abuse never happens again.
No one can be sure of that now, in an administration that uses the IRS as a hired thug to punish and silence conservatives. Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com is just one of the voices demanding accountability. "When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer. That's dangerous for all Americans." If the IRS is going to wage a secret war against conservatives, then it's time for the House to wage an open one against corruption.
Lackland's Lackluster Record on Rights
It may be the Air Force's 66th birthday, but for some airmen, the mood is anything but festive. At Lackland Air Force base, dozens of men and women are facing a painful choice: take their faith underground or give up a lifetime of service. Pastor Steve Branson, whose church is in the shadow of the Texas base, says his congregation is literally ground zero in the fight for religious liberty in the military. Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, who felt convicted to take a stand for religious freedom after a sermon by Pastor Branson, is just one of dozens of under threat. On the radio show yesterday, Pastor Branson said he was stunned by the number of airmen who took him aside and asked for prayer. And it's not just enlisted men struggling with this climate of intimidation -- it's colonels and generals too.
Thanks to Sgt. Monk, people at Branson's Village Parkway Church are starting to tell their stories. At an informal meeting at the church, Pastor Branson said 80 airmen got together to share their concerns and find encouragement in numbers. "[T]hey concurred with what Sgt. Monk was saying, that there are a lot of difficulties at Lackland -- that it's making life very miserable for them and for the cohesiveness of the Air Force at the base here in San Antonio... I've got several training instructors in the church, and they're getting Mirandas twice a month on average is what they are telling me. They're getting to the point where their getting afraid to do anything... I've got guys in my church that have been serving a long time, that love the military. They're the perfect kind of people you want in the military, and they are looking at how are they going to get out. I'm getting emails from everywhere."
When I asked Pastor Branson if he was surprised by the outpouring, he said he had no idea there was this much turmoil over faith in Air Force. "It's time for people in America to wake up," he warned. "Things are happing and if we're not careful, we'll wake up one day and have lost a lot of things we have treasured for many years." (To hear the whole interview, click here.)
Unfortunately, our military doesn't have a lot of safe places to turn. That's why this issue is so important. These brave men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to protect our freedoms are having their freedoms taken away. It's time for us to stand and speak out for them. If "one man with courage is a majority," then imagine what the entire church could do!
** Yesterday, America celebrated 226 years of "We the People." See why the colonies' document is as important today as it was in 1787 in Bob Morrison's new piece for the Daily Caller, "The Constitution: What Difference Does It Make."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.