Under Trump, a Healthy Respect for HHS

Under Trump, a Healthy Respect for HHS

January 22, 2018

When the American people elected Donald Trump, they won a lot more than the White House. They also won a makeover of government agencies bogged down by eight years of radical social policy. Nowhere is that more obvious than the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

More than 12 months into the agency's reboot, liberals continue to be baffled by politics' most basic principle: when an administration changes, so does its agenda. In a lengthy Politico expose, Dan Diamond tries to dissect the swing toward conservative, science-based policy at one of the largest government offices. Insisting "religious activists" are "on the rise" in HHS, Diamond steers the conversation toward some very familiar faces: former FRCers Shannon Royce and Charmaine Yoest, and longtime movement allies Valerie Huber and Roger Severino.

Ticking through a long list of accomplishments, like redirecting "family planning" dollars to abstinence education, protecting conscience, renewing real partnerships with faith-based groups, and stricter abortion regulations, Diamond explains how putting evangelicals and Catholics in charge of messaging has empowered Trump's base. Shannon had a simple response, "One of the axioms of politics is that personnel is policy. We have such an amazing team at HHS that is absolutely pro-life across the spectrum."

For Trump voters, few things are as rewarding as the turnaround at HHS. While liberal reporters continue to question evangelicals' support of Trump, the agency's successes ought to help explain conservatives' appreciation for the president. Few departments have given Christians more grief than HHS. Under Obama's HHS mandate, it became one of the main weapons turned on conservatives in the fight for conscience. From about-faces on radical sex ed to abortion policy, the White House is turning the Health and Human Services into a virtual promise-keeping factory.

With all of the other noise about 10-year-old Trump rumors, evangelicals deal in what they know -- the facts. "I can promise you, he is not President Perfect. But I don't think I've seen a 'President Perfect' yet... When the president says he's going to do something, he does it. And that's what I appreciate about him," Rev. Franklin Graham explained. Historically, America has never seen a wave of sweeping policy reversals like Trump's. Liberal presidents don't hesitate to roll back conservative gains. But rarely, if ever, do we see a Republican president bold enough to stop a bad agenda -- let alone overturn it. Yet, that's exactly what we've witnessed from Donald Trump on some of the most explosive issues of the day.

What most liberals don't seem to understand is that when Christians went to the voting booth, they didn't choose a leader based on personality -- but policy. And on everything from life and religious liberty to the military and Supreme Court, he hasn't proven conservatives wrong. Now, our support for the president isn't unconditional, but until he gives us reason to doubt, Trump's actions only reinforce the decision most of us made in 2016. Obviously, the Left wants to shame Christians for the president's past moral failings. The goal is the same as always: marginalize and stigmatize conservatives so that they disengage or lose focus. Don't let them. Influence is a two-way straight. Never underestimate yours in bringing this president along on the values that matter most.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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