The Budget Murray-Go-Round
It took the Senate four years to produce a budget--but not everyone is convinced that Sen. Patty Murray's was worth waiting for. Still, even the bill's author saw the humor in yesterday's milestone. "I understand we have a new pope and a committee hearing to mark-up a budget. That's history twice, so it's good." The plan, which comes on the heels of Rep Paul Ryan's, doesn't balance the budget, but it does raise almost a trillion dollars ($975 billion) in new taxes over the next 10 years.
Although Democrats insist Murray's proposal would reduce the deficit, it does so far less ambitiously than the House budget. Depending on whose math you use, the Murray budget would cut anywhere from $650 billion to $1.85 trillion from the deficit (mostly thorough accounting gimmicks as opposed to real cuts). But by 2023, Americans would still be dealing with a half-trillion budget shortfall -- whereas Ryan's measure could create as much as a $7 billion surplus in the same time period.
For Murray's plan to have a chance, it will take every last Democrat's support to send the bill out of Committee and onto the floor. A single defection, The Hill points out, would stop the budget in its tracks. So far, so good for Sen. Harry Reid's caucus. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) made it clear that the Murray bill was "not perfect" but insisted it was "certainly better than [the] hocus pocus" of House conservatives. Even lukewarm Democrats, like Virginia's Sen. Mark Warner, seem to be on board, at least in committee. Yesterday, he announced that he would support the bill, but reluctantly. Like a handful of other Democrats, he thinks more can be done to cut entitlement spending like Medicare. "I also believe, and this has caused some consternation on my side, I do think we can do more in the eventual compromise..."
But based on the GOP's response, there may not be much room for compromise where every dollar of the Democrats' spending cuts is matched with a dollar in tax hikes. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, voiced plenty of objections to the Left's new "revenue" stream. "We need to grow the economy," he told his colleagues, "not tax the economy and increase government." Under Murray's framework, the federal budget would grow a whopping 62% over the next decade! As for the media's notion that the Democrats' plan is "timid" or even "conservative," Murray's is neither. She pushes for $162 billion more spending next year than this year--and for every page of spending cuts (11), she proposes three and a half pages (39) of new stimulus spending. "Their budget never balances -- ever," Ryan noted. "It simply takes more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington." That's just one of the differences between the two measures. Congress will have time to debate plenty more when they send the dueling plans to the floor.
Amazing Grace: 11-Year-Old Marriage Testimony Stuns MN
Grace Evans may be 11, but she understands more about marriage than President Obama ever will. When her home state of Minnesota debated a same-sex "marriage" bill on Tuesday, people asked Grace asked to testify. When her turn came, she took the microphone in a roomful of adults and said that if it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, then it should take a man and woman to raise them.
"If you change the law so two moms or two dads can get married, it would take away something very important for children like me across the state," she told them. Kids learn different things from parents of both genders, Grace told them, and "God made it that way." She explained to the lawmakers that her mother "is her role model on how to be a girl, and I love her very much. My dad is also very important to me because he protects me... and takes care of me in a way my mom cannot." So, she asked, "Which parent do I not need? My mom or my dad?"
The room fell silent. She looked into the eyes of leaders three and four times her age and asked again. No one answered. Maybe because they couldn't. Or maybe because a little girl had just pointed out a fact that too many adults ignore: children deserve a mom and a dad. And when they're raised to be as courageous as Grace is, it's easy to see why. On Tuesday, while I was in Minnesota for an FRC pastors' briefing, I had an opportunity to talk with Grace on our daily radio show. If you missed it, click over to TonyPerkins.com and be encouraged. It's the perfect reminder that even in the darkest times, the future is still bright in the hands of the next generation of leaders like Grace.
Kentucky Seeks to Unbridle Freedom
Kentucky isn't taking the attack on religious liberty lying down. Faced with a hostile administration, a divided U.S. Supreme Court, and a growing sense of homosexual entitlement, lawmakers decided to take extra precautions. In both chambers, leaders, with the support of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, rushed to tighten protections for men and women of faith who feel threatened to act against their religion. The result was state Rep. Bob Damron's (D) Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or HB 279, which sailed through the House and Senate by huge margins (82-7 and 29-6).
But despite the groundswell of bipartisan support, Democratic Governor Steve Beshear is still weighing his options -- which are signing the bill, vetoing it, or letting it become law without his signature. In the meantime, radical groups -- and in particular, radical homosexual groups--are fiercely lobbying the Governor to reject the bill. As far as they're concerned, HB 279 is "a clear and present danger to the gay and lesbian community and other groups around the commonwealth." Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer took it one step further. "What we need," he insisted, "is freedom from religion..." Which is exactly why leaders felt the need to introduce this bill in the first place! The Left's totalitarian tactics continue to trump the First Amendment rights of wedding cake bakers, T-shirt makers, bed and breakfast owners, pastry shops, high school teachers, restaurant owners, photographers, parents, and others who were fired, sued, harassed, fined, and suspended for their beliefs.
Kentucky isn't encouraging discrimination -- it's protecting Christians from it. These leaders deserve our thanks -- and our help! If you live in the Bluegrass State, contact the Governor's office at 502-564-2611 and ask him to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
** Check out tomorrow's "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," as Fox News contributor Steven Crowder guest hosts our Friday show at 5:00 p.m. (ET). For a list of American Family Radio stations or to listen live, check out TonyPerkins.com.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.