Lien on Me
January 18, 2013 - Friday
For once, the GOP isn't in retreat--they're at a retreat, aimed at bringing the party's two sides closer together. Bruised from the tax debate and bracing for the President's second term, House Republicans spent the last three days regrouping for the rocky road ahead. Members huddled in rooms overlooking the James River, hoping to finally move beyond the adversity of the last several months. With the President's inauguration just 72 hours away, leaders are moving quickly to develop a strategy for their first head-on collision with Democrats in the 113th Congress: the debt ceiling.
President Obama has already said he refuses to negotiate on the country's credit limit, which the government is set to max out next month. The question for Republicans then becomes how to leverage these deadlines in the fight to rein in out-of-control spending. Right now, the GOP seems to be leaning toward a strategy that a few organizations such as FRC have been batting around as a potential way forward. This approach calls for a short-term plan that would raise the borrowing limit until March when two major budget issues collide: the across-the-board sequester cuts and the expiration of the government's temporary funding measure, or continuing resolution.
Several experts, including the House's own Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), believe the President would have no choice but to negotiate on spending if he's cornered on three deadlines at once. Keith Hennessey backs the idea in today's Wall Street Journal, explaining how this kind of pressure cooker could force the Democrats' hand. "The President," writes Hennessey, "wants a very large increase in the debt ceiling--he and his team have demanded either no limit at all, or a five-year increase, which means at least a few trillion dollars. His obvious goal is to punt the issue past the 2014 midterm election. Yet if he has to ask Congress for a new increase every few months, the spending problem his administration has exacerbated in his first term will dominate the policy agenda--when he wants to work on other issues." In other words, force the President's party to take responsibility for more borrowing without spending cuts over and over again--until the American people wake up and realize where the blame truly lies.
Charles Krauthammer seconds the idea. But he also believes the Republicans' offer to bump up the borrowing limit should come with the condition that the Senate produce a budget--something it hasn't done in four years. "It would a) highlight the Democrats' fiscal recklessness, b) force Senate Democrats to make public their fiscal choices, and c) keep the debt ceiling alive as an ongoing pressure point for future demands." But the bottom line is that Congress and the President can't kick the can down the road any more--we've run out of road. If the President thinks our first task is "protecting children," then it's time he proved it by passing a sustainable plan to reduce the deficit.
Trial and U.S. Error
While people stream into Washington on Monday to celebrate one of freedom's greatest spectacles--the inauguration--another American will be sitting in an Iranian courtroom wondering if he'll hang for his faith. At 32, Pastor Saeed Abedini was just getting settled into his family life with his wife and two children in Idaho, when he took a trip home to Iran that not only changed his life--but may end it. The former Muslim, who converted to Christianity 13 years ago, was home for a humanitarian mission when he was pulled off a bus and arrested. Authorities claim his conversion has "endangered" the national security of Iran. After four months of unspeakable brutality, the Iranians set a trial date of January 21 in a court headed by a man many have nicknamed "the hanging judge."
Pastor Abedini's wife and his attorney have pleaded for help from the U.S. State Department, but officials insist their hands are tied because Iran doesn't recognize Abedini's U.S. citizenship--an excuse that Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) finds ridiculous. "Let me be clear: under no circumstances should the U.S. State Department allow Iran to determine who is or isn't a U.S. citizen and who the U.S. should protect," he said.
Meanwhile, a dozen senators, led by Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have sent a letter to Secretary Clinton urging the agency to intervene. "We should not stand idly by while the Iranian regime arbitrarily persecutes a U.S. citizen who has committed no crime," they write. Still, the State Department has been relatively mute. This is exactly the kind of apathy that Congressman Frank Wolf condemned in his letter to hundreds of American church leaders. "The Church globally is under assault. Our response must not be to simply sing more loudly thereby drowning out the cries for help from our brothers and sisters. Rather we must speak out, advocate and act on their behalf."
The White House is at least attempting to speak out before Pastor Abedini's trial. Earlier today, the President's team finally released a statement saying that it "remains troubled the case of U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini, who was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges relating to his religious beliefs. We call upon Iranian authorities to release him immediately." With your help, we can make sure they put action behind their words.
Women without Frontiers: Changing China for Life
Speaking of human rights violations, FRC will be taking an in-depth look at the gendercide and "one-child policy" of China in next Wednesday's policy lecture. Our guest is Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President of Women's Rights without Frontiers, who is working to make sure the women and girls affected by this brutal policy have a voice. An acclaimed international expert on China's one-child policy, she has testified six times at the United States Congress, twice at the European Parliament, and at the British and Irish Parliaments as well. She was told that in 2008, she was the first person ever to address the European Parliament on the one-child policy. Don't miss her insight on the issue at noon on January 23 at FRC headquarters (801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C.). To watch the event either in-person or via live webcast, click here.
** All eyes are on disgraced Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as he finally admits years of performance enhancing drug use. FRC's Jared Bridges, an avid cyclist himself, talks about the spiritual dimension of fraud in his new column, "On the Derailing of Lance Armstrong." Also, don't miss the latest on President Obama's gun control push in Ken Klukowski's Breitbart op-ed, "Obama Has Long Opposed Second Amendment Rights."
*** On this afternoon's live radio show, "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins" at 5:00 p.m. (ET), we're happy to close out the week with Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who will join us to talk about some of the upcoming pro-life legislation in Congress. Also, FRC's Rob Schwarzwalder will drop by to discuss evangelicals' greatest challenges in engaging the culture. Jubilee Campaign USA President Ann Buwalda will close out the show with a conversation on imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini. To listen live or later, click over to TonyPerkins.com.
**** Don't miss the latest installment of FRC's pro-life videos! Learn how you can make a difference by volunteering at maternity homes by clicking below.