Sebelius Plays Hide and Sneak with Mandate
Kathleen Sebelius heads up HHS, not the CIA -- but with all the secrets she's keeping on ObamaCare, it can be tough to tell the difference. Earlier this week, the agency's cover was blown on yet another clandestine operation to change the health care law -- a change so classified that the media didn't notice until this week, when the Wall Street Journal blew the story wide open.
It seems the individual mandate, which forces people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, was suspended by the White House last week without so much as a peep to the media. Instead, the administration buried the news in a technical bulletin on a totally unrelated rule -- stunning reporters and confusing Americans who the change was meant to help. "Keep in mind," writes the Journal, "that the White House argued at the Supreme Court that the individual mandate to buy insurance was indispensable to the law's success, and President Obama continues to say he'd veto bipartisan bills that would delay or repeal it."
But if the mandate is such a key component of the law, why would the administration shelve it? And, more importantly, why would it keep that decision from the country? If HHS is excusing millions of people from one of the most unpopular parts of the law, isn't it at least worth a press release? The White House didn't think so. Nor did Secretary Sebelius, who went so far as to call the report "inaccurate" in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday ("before going on to confirm," reporters note, "that it was, in fact, accurate").
Obviously, this "hidden waiver" is the latest life preserver the White House is throwing to sinking Democrats before the midterm elections. After this week's special election in Florida, which was a resounding rejection of ObamaCare, liberals are more anxious than ever about the November election and the backlash from angry voters -- including the 4.7 million whose insurance was cancelled because of it. Others, who have managed to hang on to their policies for now, are not as disturbed by the law as they are by the administration's illegal modifications to it. Let's face it, write the editors of the Wall Street Journal, "...There have been so many unilateral executive waivers and delays that ObamaCare must be unrecognizable to its drafters to the extent they ever knew what the law contained."
While the White House becomes even more close-lipped about its lawlessness, another PR nightmare waits in the wings -- this time over the latest exchange data. Despite a more functional website, only 940,000 people have signed up for an ObamaCare plan in February, bringing the total enrollment to 4.2 million (a half-million fewer than the number of people who lost their policies when the law took effect). And of those 4.2 million, only 500,000 were the target audience: people who were already uninsured.
Of course, the whole point of redefining American health care was to expand coverage to Americans without insurance. Now, after more than six months, it seems this drastic overhaul of one-sixth of the U.S. economy is only affecting a tiny slice of the desired population. According to McKinsey's survey, most of those people think the plans are too expensive to bother. Even people who qualify for the subsidies replied, "I could not afford to pay the premium." And among the enrolled, most haven't. Only 14% of the people who were uninsured before ObamaCare have actually paid for their plans. Secretary Sebelius can cover up the facts all she wants, but when it comes to the administration's lawlessness, there's no hiding place big enough.
In the House, a Tour D'Enforce
President Obama doesn't want to enforce the law -- and he'll veto any bill that orders him to start. Unfortunately, this is the sorry state our nation finds itself in: Congress has to pass laws to protect the ones it already has. From marriage to health care, the White House has set a match to the legislation it doesn't like -- and rewritten what it does. As far as the U.S. House is concerned, that stops now. Yesterday, 233 Republican and Democrats said "enough" to this chapter of executive tyranny and passed the ENFORCE the Law Act (Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law).
Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who introduced the companion bill in his own chamber and applauded the House for holding the President's feet to the fire on his constitutional duties. "Americans are rightly concerned about executive overreach and dysfunction under the current administration... [Along with] my Republican colleagues, I will keep fighting to stop executive branch overreach and force President Obama to uphold the Constitution."
Scripture Makes Cadets Board at School
First the Air Force Academy tried to erase a Bible verse. Now, its leaders are trying to wipe away the cadets' freedom. As more details leak out about the hostile environment toward Christians on campus, Air Force Academy Superintendent Michelle Johnson is trying to explain away the pressure the Academy put on a leadership cadet to remove a reference to Galatians on his message board. "The Scripture was below the cadet's name on a white board and could cause subordinates to doubt the leader's religious impartiality... The Air Force's Academy is a training institution, teaching cadets how to appropriately raise concerns, understand perceptions and balance personal freedom with effective leadership."
Exactly what is the Academy's definition of "impartiality?" Atheists can share their beliefs and Christians can't? A leader leads by example, which is what this cadet was doing. Christian cadets have just as much constitutional freedom to express their individual faith as anyone. And, as FRC's Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin pointed out, "If a scripture scares the faculty this much, then it is unlikely that they will be very effective when confronted by a committed enemy who is willing to die for his or her beliefs. This academy should be training warriors who can deal with difficult situations and determined enemies. A scripture is hardly a threat. When will the Academy leadership step up and get serious about preparing these cadets for the complexities and difficulties of combat and stop denying them their constitutional rights?"
These cadets are learning the true meaning of Jesus's admonition to His disciples: "if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." The price for true discipleship is nothing less than the totality of one's.
** Don't miss Ken Blackwell, FRC's Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, talking about ObamaCare on CBN below.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.