Obama's Rules of Enragement
When the Obama administration talks about a mandate "accommodation," you can be sure the only thing they're accommodating is their radical agenda. A month after the Supreme Court gave ObamaCare one of its biggest black eyes, the President's team is back at the drawing board, desperate to find a new way to force family businesses and nonprofits to violate their pro-life convictions.
After three years of legal wrangling over the HHS mandate, the Supreme Court's opinion in the Hobby Lobby-Conestoga Wood case was supposed to settle the matter, ruling in favor of religious freedom and against the heavy hand of government. Unfortunately, it looks like the only opinion the Obama administration is interested in is its own. In the weeks since the decision came down, the President's team has poured its energy into new ways to avoid the Court's opt-out for companies with moral objections to pills that can end or prevent a pregnancy. In the past, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered a placebo, an "accommodation" for religious groups that used fancy accounting gimmicks to hide the reality that these nonprofits were still paying for drugs that violated their beliefs -- just through an intermediary.
The trick may have fooled the media, but it certainly didn't pass the sniff test with the hundreds of universities, charities, and other organizations subject to the President's shell game. As the White House explained it, this "olive branch" was supposed to alleviate the concerns of organizations like Catholic Charities, hospitals, or colleges who are forced to provide life-destroying drugs against their will or pay the price. But in practice, the religious groups would still have to pay for the "health care" they oppose, but through a third-party.
Now the administration is resorting to the same scam, hinting that it might use this same approach with family businesses as a way of bypassing the Court's ruling. Late last month, the Justice Department warned that another rule change was coming down the pike, submitting a legal brief in court announcing that it would tweak the HHS for the umpteenth time, setting a new policy that could dramatically alter the landscape for nonprofits and companies like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.
In the brief, DOJ writes, "The administration believes the accommodation is legally sounds, but in light of the Supreme Court order regarding Wheaton College, the Departments intend to augment their regulations to provide an alternative way for objecting non-profit religious organizations to provide notification, while ensuring that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage of contraceptive services without cost sharing. While we are working through the details now, we expect this rulemaking to be issued within a month."
Although there's plenty of speculation about how the new rule would work, there's none where the President's tendencies on religious liberty is concerned. The bottom line is that President Obama can't ease pro-lifers' concerns without sacrificing the mandate. And so far, he's refused to -- not even when the Courts, the Constitution, and the citizens demand it.
Common Core-less in Louisiana
The Obama administration's "Common Core" education curriculum is lowering the bar for American students and giving the federal government even greater authority in education than they have had in the past. Rather than strengthening American education, they have the potential to do serious harm to our children's knowledge and global competitiveness. Not to mention that it becomes a direct pipeline of liberal, anti-family values from the cultural elites to your child's classroom.
At last week's FRC panel on Common Core, leading experts explained the threat the new Uncle Sam-established requirements impose. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has joined a number of other state leaders in ending participation in Common Core. While some governors have simply sought to repackage Common Core, Governor Jindal has expelled it from the state altogether. Keep in mind that Gov. Jindal is no stranger to excellence in education: He was president of the University of Louisiana system earlier in his career, and during his term as governor has been a champion of quality education for Louisiana's children.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when Chas Roemer, head of Louisiana's school board, "accused GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal of creating a 'fiasco' by taking steps against Common Core." With his statements, Roemer is fanning the flames of two suits filed by lawmakers against Gov. Jindal, lawsuits that waste both precious taxpayer money, and delay the development of truly better, higher standards for Louisiana's children. The real fiasco is the Common Core standards themselves. As Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who spoke at last week's FRC Common Core forum and previously served on the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Systemic Initiative has said, "Everyone was willing to believe that the Common Core standards are 'rigorous,' 'competitive,' 'internationally benchmarked,' and 'research-based.' They are not." Those strong words are echoed in a resolution offered by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in February "strongly denouncing the Obama administration's coercion of states into adopting Common Core State Standards by conferring preferences in federal grants and flexibility waivers."
Regrettably, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Gov. Jindal's likely replacement as Louisiana's governor, endorses the Common Core standards. It's my hope that my friend Sen. Vitter will reconsider his support for Common Core, as Gov. Jindal and other governors in a number of states before him.
10 Things to Ask Your Representative over the August Recess...
The House and Senate may be taking a break, but that doesn't mean you should! Congress may not be in session, but plenty of local town halls will be. For the next five weeks, members will be crisscrossing their districts before the election, anxious -- for once -- to hear their constituents' feedback. It's a rare window of opportunity for voters to share their concerns and know that their representatives are listening. Asking questions at these public forums is a great way for you to help your elected leaders understand the issues that matter to you and your family.
Visit House.gov and Senate.gov to find out who your members of Congress are, and then check out their websites for a listing of events in your area. At FRC, we've put together a guide of top 10 issues that you can raise on topics related to life, marriage, and religious liberty. Each day, we'll include a few questions you can ask your congressman, like these:
1. Despite promises that health care plans under Obamacare would have a clear listing of services included, very few plans identify whether or not they include elective abortion coverage. This concerns me as an American who has moral objections to paying for abortion. Do you support requiring health care plans under Obamacare to disclose whether or not they include abortion coverage?
2. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would create new economic and litigation burdens for employers at the same time it would severely curtail the religious freedom of family business owners and religious institutions. Please oppose ENDA when Congress reconvenes and in the Lame Duck.
For the complete list of 10 questions, check out FRC.org.
The Perkins Family Has Returned!
Our mission at FRC is not only to advocate for family, but practice it as well. Spending time together, creating adventures and memories, are essential cords to strong family bonds. I'm always grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my family. Last week we went to one of our favorite place, the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee where we hiked some mountains, walked through the streams, and rafted down the Hiwassee River. I want to thank my outstanding team of professionals who kept things moving right along, including the Update, in my absence.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.