Prayers for Boston
As we go to press, more horrific details are streaming in about the explosions in downtown Boston, which is being treated as an act of terrorism. While we don't know the full extent of the tragedy, we do know that several people need our prayer--including the wounded, the police on the scene, emergency room doctors, and the families of those seriously injured or killed. Please join us in lifting up the city of Boston as they rush to help the hurting. May God's peace permeate the panic and confusion and give comfort to those nearby--and may we all be reminded "that unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain" (Ps 127:1).
U.S. Tax Preyers: Liberal Groups Bank on IRS's Big Day
Tax returns aren't the only things the IRS is getting in the mail today! Thanks to a class of Massachusettsmiddle schoolers, the agency is opening plenty of birthday cards too. As Mr. Haynes's history students know, it's a big year for the 1040 form--which turns 100 today. Back in 1913, the 1040 was a single sheet of paper, says the IRS's Nina Olson--a far cry from the 73,000 pages of tax code Americans wade through today. "Just figuring out what to pay," writes CBS's Anthony Mason, "eats up an estimated 6.1 billion hours of our time each year."
We've come a long way from the days when "shipwreck" was a legitimate tax deduction. But unfortunately, we've also drifted farther away from the purpose of paying federal taxes in the first place. Instead of providing for the common defense or infrastructure, April 15 may as well be a national holiday for groups like Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign, whose agendas benefit by the billions from what the IRS collects today.
With the advent of ObamaCare, Tax Day has taken on an even darker meaning--as more Americans resent forking over their hard-earned dollars for policies they morally oppose. Under this administration, April 15 has become the reaping day for taxpayer-funded abortion, same-sex partner benefits, comprehensive sex education, and the rest of this President's radical anti-family agenda.
As if Tax Day weren't depressing enough, it looks like the same people collecting your taxes aren't paying their own! Based on the IRS's numbers, some 300,000 federal workers still owed $3.5 billion in taxes for 2011. "The very least an individual on the federal payroll can do is pay their taxes," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who is celebrating today by introducing a bill that would fire government employees with "seriously delinquent" tax debts. (There go the White House appointees!) Those numbers should infuriate the average American, who has to turn over almost four months' of salary to afford her federal and state taxes. In fact, the IRS burdens are so great that Americans will spend more on taxes this year than they will on food, housing, and clothing combined. According to experts, Tax Freedom Day (the day when Americans have worked enough to pay off their annual tax bill) isn't until April 18 this year--five days later than 2012. That's almost a third of the year that you're going to work just to satisfy your tax bill!
Of course, we can thank ObamaCare and the fiscal cliff deal for adding an extra week to the tab. While most of the country won't feel the effects of the health care law until next year, some Americans are already dealing with the pain of ObamaCare through investment and excise taxes. Others, like small business owners, are getting slammed by the $1 trillion in new tax hikes that Congress agreed to at the start of the year.
Meanwhile, new taxes won't fix the old problem of Washington spending. And while there are plenty of projects to cut, liberals are simply unwilling to do so. Just last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) admitted that Washington could save $95 billion (a savings of $1,200 for a family of four) just by eliminating the overlap and duplication in federal programs. If a company operated that inefficiently, it'd be out of business! And if the government isn't more careful with our money, America will be too.
Onward, Christian Soldiers?
New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may lack a lot of qualifications for his new job, but at least he has a firm grasp of the obvious. Asked about the persecution Christians are experiencing in the military, Leon Panetta's successor admitted, "Well, that should not be happening."
It shouldn't--but it is. And Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.) wasn't about to let another hearing of the House Armed Services Committee go by without addressing the streak of religious hostility seeping through the ranks. Rep. Forbes spent a good deal of time on Thursday highlighting the attacks on faith, including the Army email that listed FRC and American Family Association as "domestic hate groups."
Together with 39 other members, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) demanded an apology from the Secretary of the Army for lumping "Evangelical Christians" and "Catholics" with terrorists during a training on religious extremism. "When you get the U.S. military starting to paint in the minds of soldiers that Evangelical Christians are the equivalent of Al Qaeda or Hamas, that's a big problem," said Forbes. "That's not a little problem."
Of the half-dozen recent incidents the Virginia Congressman exposed, the new DOD head claimed ignorance on all of them. "I don't know about all the specifics of the information you presented," Hagel responded. "I will get it and I will find out about it." Asked if he supported the conscience protections in the Defense Authorization Act, Hagel answered again that he didn't know about them, but agreed that "protection of religious rights is pretty fundamental to our country." It's time for Hagel to prove it by bringing the full weight of the DOD to bear on those who would use the military to further their own anti-religious bias. Until then, we salute Rep. Forbes for calling the administration on the carpet, while others try to sweep these attacks under the rug.
A Victory in the Real War on Women
While the rest of the media comes lately to the Kermit Gosnell trial, some states--including Virginia--refused to wait until the horrors darkened their doors. Friday, in the midst of one of the most shocking murder cases in recent memory, the Virginia Board of Health voted 11-2 to take a stronger role protecting women and babies. From now on, the state's abortion clinics will have to operate under the same standards as any outpatient surgical center--a common sense approach that every state should adopt. State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has spent his entire career trying to cultivate a culture of life, certified the regulations almost immediately before sending them on to fellow pro-lifer Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). Prior to this year, 28 states had some kind of abortion facility regulations on the books.
Thanks in part to the nightmarish conditions of Gosnell's "clinic" and the news about Planned Parenthood of Delaware, more local leaders are actively pushing to more closely monitor their states' facilities. This year, four additional states have introduced similar regulations: Connecticut, Minnesota, North Dakota, and West Virginia. As with North Dakota's measure, FRC experts testified on behalf of Virginia's new rules--making this victory all the meaningful for our team and FRC's allies in the state, including Victoria Cobb and The Family Foundation. Let's hope this is the beginning of many such celebrations!
** Listen to today's edition of "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," as we welcome Ellen Samek mother of an Eagle Scout, wife of an Eagle Scout and a former Scoutmaster. She was one of the co-authors of the USA Today Moms of Boy Scouts (MOBS) op-ed. Also, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) joins us to explain why he's blocking the nomination of Thomas Perez as Secretary of Labor.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.