Paper Wait: HHS Rules Put off Real Questions
January 30, 2013 - Wednesday
If anyone should be outraged by ObamaCare, it's the environmentalists! So far, the President's law has wasted enough paper to topple entire forests--and the implementation process has barely begun. If the bill's 2,700 pages were too much for Congress to read, who's going to bother wading through the 13,000 pages of regulations from last December alone? According to most experts, those 26 reams of rules don't even touch on the "nuts and bolts" of a system that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wants up and running by next year.
All of the regulations that President Obama had bottled up before the election are now gushing from Health and Human Services faster than the states, businesses, and health care industry can process them. For now, it's all a chaotic maze of bureaucracy and secrecy that has people questioning the system's chance of success. "No one knows where the current magical mystery tour is headed," the Wall Street Journal warns, "especially not HHS." Most states gave up on waiting and just opted out of the legislative tangle altogether. Others, like the health care community, are desperately trying to get answers from HHS--to no avail. "There is an urgent need for more regulatory clarity..." pleaded Dan Durham of America's Health Insurance Plans at a special House hearing.
Of course, it's no wonder everyone is confused. One simple rule--defining a "full-time employee"--took HHS 18 pages to explain. Multiply that by 13,000 sheets of regulations (and climbing), and it's absolute bedlam. One unintended consequence of all the confusion is Congress's inability to hold the Obama administration accountable. With the explosion of new rules and regulations, conservatives are having a difficult time keeping up. Their staffs and attorneys are doing their best to go over each guideline with a fine-toothed comb, but even the problems they've identified are being ignored.
As far back as last August, the House oversight committee raised some red flags over a batch of IRS rules that no one had approved. In one instance, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) points out that the IRS extended the tax credits for the ObamaCare exchanges beyond what the law called for--an overreach that could cost taxpayers a half-trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Together with the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Issa sent four separate letters to the IRS and Treasury Department, demanding an explanation. They've received none. "At the Committee's hearing on August 2, 2012," the members write, "you testified that your 'main job was to implement the law that was written.'" According to the Congressional Research Service, there's ample evidence that the IRS implemented more than that. The administration has a pattern of ignoring Congress, but it will have a difficult time ignoring taxpayers if they're forced to pay even higher taxes to accommodate this additional $500 billion power grab.
Meanwhile, Senators like Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) haven't given up hope of abolishing the President's monstrosity altogether. "The case for repealing this law has only grown stronger as American businesses and families have begun to feel the pain of its impact--a half-trillion dollars of new taxes, premiums going up, employers cutting hours and jobs just to stay in business..." He was one of the 23 cosponsors on Sen. Ted Cruz's new legislation to pull the plug on ObamaCare. "I promised the voters of Texas that the first bill I would file as a U.S. Senator would be to repeal every last word of ObamaCare," said Sen. Cruz yesterday, "and that's a promise I'm proud to keep." Now the challenge is to make the repeal a reality!
Boy Scouts Should 'Be Prepared' for Real Consequences
Until yesterday's Boy Scout bombshell, most churches had already finalized their plans for February 3's Scout Sunday. Unfortunately for the majority of congregations, the date will no longer be a time of celebration--but of prayer, as the Scouts seriously consider integrating homosexuality into troops for the first time in its 103-year history. Reaction to the shocking news was swift and severe, as the 2.9 million-member Scouting family jammed phone lines at BSA headquarters with passionate pleas to keep the policy in place.
Under the new proposal, the national organization would pass the buck on integrating homosexuals to the local level--putting children in grave danger and forcing regional councils to take on a heated debate that they aren't financially prepared for. "It will be the small troops that decide they don't want to have a homosexual leader, and then where do they go for help?" said mom Margaret Kreider. "If they get sued by the ACLU or another organization comes after them, they won't have the resources or the backing of the Boy Scouts of America because of this policy. It will be the destruction of the Boy Scouts." Others worry that the Left's "divide and conquer" strategy would be a distraction to the Scouts' mission--or worse, alter it altogether. In the end, everyone's primary concern should be protecting children.
We appreciate all of you who have taken the time to contact the BSA offices (972-580-2004) or logged on to our Facebook page to share the information with your friends. The reports we've gotten are that the switchboard and email addresses have been completely overwhelmed. But our work isn't done! Help us make the same case to the BSA Board members who will determine the policy's fate as early as next Monday. Too many of these are corporate executives who appear to be motivated by fear or finances when they should be thinking about the safety and well-being of children. Join FRC and our allies in flooding their phone lines with your respectful objections--before it's too late.
How the (Mid)west Was Won...
It may have been -1 degree outside, but inside the North Dakota legislature, the debate was heated. Yesterday, leaders considered several bills that would recognize the humanity of the unborn, which pro-lifers hope would help the state restrict--if not outlaw--abortion. FRC's own experts, Anna Higgins and Dr. David Prentice, were invited to testify on a handful of bills that would protect even early human life at the embryo stage. "Right now," Anna said, "the law asks us to discriminate against these people because of their age and development. It's troubling to deny rights to individuals who do not have a way to protect themselves."
Dr. Prentice, one of the world's foremost bioethicists, explained some of the basic scientific facts on in vitro fertilization, as well as the biology, development, and science of embryonic stem cells, so that North Dakotans would be able to make informed decisions about the resolutions on the table. For some of the media coverage from Tuesday's hearings, click here. In more good news from the states, the Arkansas Public Health Committee approved a measure by State Senator Jason Rapert that protects an unborn child once a heartbeat is detected. Keep up the good work!
** Pro-life Democrats are certainly an endangered species in Congress, but members like Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) are still having an impact. Read how in Ken Blackwell's new World magazine piece, "Loyal to Life, Not to Party."
*** If you missed today's "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," we chatted with Fox News's Steven Crowder about life as a newlywed and why the next generation should support marriage. Also, Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-Kans.) dropped by to talk about the President's gun proposals and how they'll fare in Congress. Click over to TonyPerkins.com to listen to the archived version tomorrow morning!