Health Coverage or Political Coverage?
It is becoming evident that the President's mea culpa press conference was less about insuring the continuance of health care coverage for the hundreds of thousands of families losing their healthcare because of ObamaCare, than it was providing political cover to the Democrats who voted for ObamaCare.
The President's "administrative fix" not only stretches the limits of his constitutional authority, it stretches the limits of reality. This "fix" is more accurately described as the President telling regulators not to enforce a set of ACA rules that all insurance plans had to meet in order to enter the government's marketplace. This afternoon the House actually passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, a measure that would legally suspend the provisions of ObamaCare that have led to the cancelations of hundreds of thousands of policies. But even before the measure passed, the White House announced its opposition to H.R. 3350 by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) "because it threatens the health care security of hard working, middle class families." The President certainly doesn't need any help doing that; he's done a pretty good job on his own.
Insurance providers and regulators, which had no advance warning of the President's "fix" to ObamaCare, are now asking how this is going to work. A former colleague of mine, Jim Donelon, who is president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the current Insurance Commissioner for Louisiana, said "it is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed today by the President can be put into effect. In many states, cancellation notices have already gone out to policyholders and rates and plans have already been approved for 2014."
The reality, as the Wall Street Journal points out, is the industry has been in the process of retrofitting their products for almost three years to comply with ObamaCare. They will have to scrap their actuarial assumptions and start over based on the "fix". Is such a major undertaking possible? And given that it is only temporary, will insurance providers even undertake what will most probably be a losing financial proposition?
Enforcing the Enforcer
If you're looking for job security, try working in the White House's crisis management department. The President's PR team was already pumping out spin for the ObamaCare disaster, and now it will have to pull double duty for the latest scandal: the impeachment proceedings against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. For five years, America's chief law enforcer has been the closest thing to a political cat with nine lives, dodging one career-killing controversy to another.
For once, the shocking allegations may have finally caught up with the President's loyal protector and put the Attorney General's invincibility to the ultimate test. He survived his role in the Fast and Furious gun-running scheme, failed his duty to defend federal marriage law, shielded the IRS from an investigation on its targeting of conservatives, committed perjury under oath in the James Rosen probe, and even was held in contempt of Congress. Unfortunately, nothing -- not even the congressional scolding -- seemed to make a dent in Holder's unethical ways.
U.S. Congressman Pete Olson (R-Texas) is hoping to change that by putting the Attorney General in the hottest water yet. Together with 19 members of Congress, Rep. Olson decided America had taken enough constitutional abuse under this Justice Department and introduced formal articles of impeachment against Holder for "high crimes and misdemeanors." "This was not a decision that I made lightly," Olson told the press. "Since the House voted in 2012 to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, the pattern of disregard for the rule of law and refusal to be forthright has only continued. The American people deserve answers and accountability. If the Attorney General refuses to provide [them], then Congress must take action."
Also on board with H.Res. 411 are Republican members Larry Buschon (Ind.), Blake Farenthold (Texas), David Roe (Tenn.), Randy Weber (Texas), Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.), Roger Williams (Texas), Ted Yoho (Fla.), Louie Gohmert, (Texas), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Bill Flores (Texas), Mark Amodei (Nev.), Jim Bridenstine (Okla.), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Sam Johnson (Texas), Steve Stockman (Texas), Mike Conaway (Texas), and Thomas Massie (Ky.). "For nearly five years, Attorney General Holder has systematically deceived Congress and destroyed the credibility of the Justice Department in the eyes of the American people."
As conservatives who respect the Constitution and the rule of law, we appreciate that someone in Congress is finally willing to hold this lawless bunch accountable. If the Justice Department continues to ignore its job, Eric Holder could be the only Attorney General to leave office as the subject of more investigations than he's headed up. It's time to put the DOJ under new management -- the kind that respects our nation's law and its people.
Military Freedom: That's An Order!
Last night, Members of Congress led by Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) gathered on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to highlight the importance of religious freedom in the military. Members are talking about our "First Freedom" because of the uncertainty and fear that members of the Armed Forces currently face regarding their ability to express their religious beliefs.
Joined by Congressmen John Fleming (R-La.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Doug Lamborn (R-Co.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Roger Williams (R-Texas), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kans.), Congresswoman Hartzler framed the issue as one of historic importance, "...just as important now to our men and women in uniform as it was back at the beginning of our country." Congressman Collins, a military Chaplain himself, pointed out that our military has fought with their "blood, sweat, and tears" so that the general public's freedom of religion can be protected. Yet, "now there appears to be a strain inside the Pentagon and VA whose mission it is to take away the soul of our fighting force."
Congressman Williams aptly summed up what freedom of religion really entails and why it's so important: it's "how we live our faith, not just where we attend worship services." To see all of last night's Special Order, watch here.
High Stakes for Hybrids
Human cloning and animal-human hybrids? It may sound like science fiction, but the fact is that some scientists want wide-open opportunity to perform these unethical experiments. Ohio lawmakers are trying to make sure such research doesn't happen in the Buckeye State. H.B. 308, sponsored by state Rep. Andy Thompson, would prohibit the creation of cloned human embryos for any purpose, as well as the creation of animal-human hybrids in Ohio.
Federal law doesn't prohibit these macabre experiments, only the use of taxpayer money for them. That leaves it to the states to draw their own legal line and prohibit such abuses of science and human dignity. Wednesday, FRC's own Dr. David Prentice testified in the Ohio House of Representatives' Health and Aging Committee in support of H.B. 308.
Dr. Prentice thoroughly reviewed the science behind embryo production as well as stem cells, and pointed out that Rep. Thompson's bill doesn't affect any stem cell research or stem cell testing, but does aim to prevent creation of cloned human embryos or hybrid embryos that are mixtures of animal and human. He told the legislators that H.B. 308 "provides common sense restrictions on human cloning and animal-human hybrids in Ohio and would prohibit these abuses, without limiting any valid medical research." We pray the lawmakers were listening and took it to heart, and that Ohio will pass H.B. 308 and prevent unethical science.
** On Friday's edition of "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera joins Tony to discuss Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio vowing to wipe out pregnancy resource centers in the city. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler will be on to discuss the Military Religious Freedom Special Order she led along with 11 other House Members on Thursday night. Also, FRC's Ken Klukowsi will be on to talk about the Constitutionality of the President's decision this week on ObamaCare. Listen at TonyPerkins.com
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.