Biden: It's My Way or the Repaved Highway!

Biden: It's My Way or the Repaved Highway!

Biden: It's My Way or the Repaved Highway!

May 3, 2021

"We're going to work with Republicans. We're going to find common ground." If Americans had a dollar for every time someone from the Biden administration said that, we could almost pay for the president's infrastructure plan! Of course, with the president on a multi-city "Getting America Back on Track" tour, it would probably be poor form to say what the White House is really thinking -- which is all of the ways they might pass this $2.3 trillion dollar monstrosity without the GOP's support. Because, as Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) pointed out: if the first 100 days have taught us anything, it's that these Democrats "won't even build bridges to build bridges!"

While Biden and his team fan out through Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and other stops, his top strategists are back in Washington, trying to spin their next move. Republicans say they're willing to work with the president on his infrastructure plan -- if Biden is willing to focus on actual infrastructure and leave his party's wacky redefinitions of the concept (everything from court-packing to elder care) behind. So far, there's no indication that he would. Anita Dunn, one of the president's advisors, lowered everyone's expectations on CNN Sunday when she said, "he wants to move this package forward in a bipartisan way -- if that's possible."

The last time the president "negotiated," it cost taxpayers $1.9 trillion dollars -- most of which had nothing to do with the pandemic! White House officials rammed through their leftist wish list of so-called "COVID relief" without a single Republican vote. Now, less than two months later, Democrats may be teeing up an encore of that stunt. "If lawmakers can't reach a bipartisan agreement, Democrats have indicated they may be willing to advance one large package through a process tied to the budget known as reconciliation," the Wall Street Journal warns. "That would enable Democrats to pass legislation without GOP support -- but they couldn't afford to lose even a single member of the Democratic caucus in the evenly split Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tiebreaking vote."

But that prospect might be thornier than the Left expects. Already, more reasonable Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) are starting to count the costs -- especially in swing states where voters aren't exactly clamoring for more debt. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and other conservatives are trying to peel off moderates from Biden's plan to their own smaller, $500 billion dollar proposal. "I've been working regularly with the other Joe," Barrasso said, "... Joe Manchin." Like other Republicans, he thinks there's "a deal to be had if we leave things out like the Green New Deal, and recyclable cafeteria trays and climate justice, because $500 billion to $600 billion of infrastructure is [still] a massive amount of infrastructure."

Like the rest of his caucus, Barrasso points out that it isn't the Republicans' fault there's no cooperation on this bill. "With coronavirus relief, we did five bipartisan bills, each of which got over 90 votes. And when President Biden came into office, gave the speech about unity on Inauguration Day. Ten Republicans went to the White House to meet with him on another coronavirus package, and we made really good faith efforts. He ignored all of it. They did this with budget reconciliation by the slimmest margin of votes. Ignored Republicans. We want to work together with this administration on true infrastructure," but ultimately, that's up to Mr. Uniter-in-Chief.

The GOP counter-offer is steep at a half-trillion dollars, but at least it goes to roads, bridges, public transit, rail, and broadband expansion. "At this point," liberal Republican Susan Collins (R-Maine) said, "Republicans have put forth a reasonable offer, it's up to the president to do a counteroffer to us." In the meantime, the warning signs are flashing as it relates to the economy. Even Biden's own economic advisors admit that America is on the verge of inflation. "These are very serious concerns," Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, conceded when asked. "We expect that there is going to be supply chain disruptions. That will cause some transitory increases in prices... We expect, at the most, transitory inflation."

But, as usual, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) shook his head, the president will insist that none of this will affect you. "'We're going to be taxing the wealthy,' Biden says. 'We're not going to put that burden on your shoulders.' I would just say that story has been told so long and so often in the past that we know now -- that's a fairy tale...He always lays the burden on [Americans]."

Please, Kelly said on "Washington Watch," "Somebody put up a stop sign for this man. It's time to look at who is responsible for all this spending. And it's hard-working American taxpayers. There's no other source of revenue." They talk about taxing the "rich" and the corporations, Kelly explained, but "understand that any time a politician says they're going to spend money, what they mean is they're going into your wallet, Mr. Taxpayer... And it's in their best interest of getting reelected. There's an old saying... 'You can't beat Santa Claus.' And too many of my friends actually believe that some of these things... are wonderful. And all I say to them is, it's your money that they're giving you... So if you think that's a gift, it's not. You're going to get the bill. People have to wake up."


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


Left Laments Bully-proof Election Reforms

May 3, 2021

Woke America isn't having a great two months. Now that Georgia's law is in the rearview mirror, a lot of corporate bullies have moved on to bringing down election reform bills in Florida and Texas -- unsuccessfully, the mainstream media points out. These days, states aren't just unmoved by the outside threats, they actually seem motivated by them. And Tallahassee's debate is the latest proof.

"I don't think anybody was concerned about it," state Senator Joe Gruters (R) shrugged when reporters asked him about the pressure from Big Business and other far-Left interests. That's bad news for America's biggest brands, who've staked a lot of their capital on stopping these local reforms. Like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R), a lot of leaders have come to the conclusion that "Free and fair elections are worth the threats." They're worth whatever toothless threats or lawsuits the Left can throw at them. The important thing, state Republicans have decided, is to not back down.

In the Sunshine State, the New York Times lamented, "Republican legislators have been largely unmoved by opposition to new voting laws by Fortune 500 companies, major American sports leagues, Black faith leaders and elections administrators... Even as some of the more strident initial proposals have been watered down, there has rarely been a pause, even for a moment, in the drive to pass new legislation on voting." Nothing, the paper points out, seems to deter them.

Congressman Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who's been pushing back on the ridiculous narrative that conservative voting reforms are "racist," wrote over the weekend just how important it's been to ignore the liberal hysteria. "Looking at the media outcry over Georgia's election integrity legislation, it would be easy for Florida and other states to hit pause on their own opportunities to improve. (Which is exactly why Georgia's laws were targeted!) After all, who wants to face the full force of woke corporate and media rage?" But this is too important, he argued. "Florida's 2020 election ran well, but there is room to make a good system better. The unique challenges of the 2020 election exposed loopholes in existing election law that could lead to fraud, undue influence of private money going to government election personnel, ballot trafficking, and voter manipulation."

He pointed to the influx of "Zuckerbucks," the Facebook founder's attempt to manipulate elections in more than 2,500 American jurisdictions. Of the $16 million dollars Florida received, Donalds said, only 16 percent went into the counties. "Instead, the money was used on items like cars, get-out-the-vote efforts by government officials, and government officials' salaries in districts that tended to vote Democrat -- a huge conflict of interest. Seventy-eight percent of counties that voted for Clinton in 2016 received Zuckerbucks, while only seven percent of the counties that went for Trump received grants. Counties that received this money saw an uptick in Democrat-voter turnout, whereas neighboring counties without the funds didn't mirror the same growth in left-leaning voters."

Thanks to the Florida House and Senate, Mark Zuckerberg -- or any third-party activist -- won't be able to infiltrate the system in the future. That's one of the major pieces of the election overhaul bill that just passed both chambers (23-17 and 77-40). Along with protecting the state from outside money, the proposal that's headed to Governor Ron DeSantis's (R) desk puts new limits on drop boxes and voter registration groups, demands more video surveillance, carefully defines who can and can't hand out food, water, or election materials in lines, and adds new layers of protection to mail-in ballots (including who can deliver them, how they're requested, how the signature matching works, and photo ID verification).

One other key feature of the bill is refusing to let state officials enter consent decrees during the election. Some of you might remember the controversy in Georgia when Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger caved to radical Democrats and signed an agreement that let the other party dictate how signature matching is done. The Trump campaign sued, insisting that it was unconstitutional for Raffensperger to change the election law without any input from the legislature.

That topic came up in Florida too, when state Rep. Cord Byrd (R) questioned their own secretary of State, Laurel Lee, "We saw other states entering into consent decrees to bypass courts or bypass state legislatures. How many consent decrees or legal orders are continuing to have effect on our election process?" Byrd asked Lee. She explained that Florida leaders didn't "agree to any terms that encroached on legislative authority or affected our election laws..." Nor will they, now that Florida has added language that would make them illegal.

Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the bill, which is great news, since the Census report just awarded Florida another electoral college vote. Texas, the next state on deck to tighten its election law, got two. And it's highly unlikely, based on the state's top leaders, that they'll pay any heed to corporate threats either. "Texans are fed up with corporations that don't share our values trying to dictate public policy," Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) said. "The majority of Texans support maintaining the integrity of our elections, which is why I made it a priority this legislative session." If corporate Leftists don't like it, they can leave. Based on the last few weeks, that would suit most states just fine.


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


Convicted for Conviction? Finnish Leader Faces Jail for Bible Quote

May 3, 2021

Quoting the Bible can't land you in American prison (yet), but in Helsinki, it's a different story. In a case that's stunned the West, Finland's former Interior Minister and leader of the Christian Democrats, has been criminally charged for posting a picture of the Bible, opened to Romans 1:24-27. She was disturbed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church joining a gay pride event and decided to remind them what God says about homosexuality. Now, after a two-year investigation, the tweet could put her behind bars.

The saga, which has involved three police interrogations since 2019, rose to a fever pitch last month when the former MP was officially charged with "hate speech." Finland's prosecutor, according to reports, called the actions derogatory and discriminatory. Päivi Räsänen fired back, insisting, "I do not see I would have in any way defamed homosexuals whose human dignity and human rights I have constantly said to respect and defend." As a former government minister, she says she's "shocked" the situation has elevated the way it has.

"I will go to the court with a peaceful and brave mind, trusting that Finland is a constitutional state where the freedoms of speech and religion, both of which are guaranteed in international agreements and in our constitution, are respected," Räsänen has said. "A conviction based on the Christian faith is more than a surficial opinion. The early Christians did not renounce their faith in lions' caves, why should I then renounce my faith in a court room?" As for anything she's said about the Bible's teachings, she insists, "I will not step back from my conviction nor from my writings. I do not apologize for the writings of the Apostle Paul either. I am ready to defend freedom speech and religion as far as is necessary."

In her blunt response, she also pointed out, "The Apostle Paul's teaching is not only about defending marriage between man and woman, but about how a human being is saved into eternal life. If the teachings of God's word about sin are rejected, also the whole core of Christian faith is made empty--the precious sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the sake of everyone's sins and the way He opened into eternity."

Four thousand miles away, in Washington, D.C., this kind of persecution may sound far-fetched. But Congressman Greg Steube (R-Fla.) knows from personal experience how much closer America is inching to this climate of open hostility. When he stood on the House floor in late February and read from Deuteronomy about the difference between males and females, he was blasted by Democratic colleagues. "What any religious tradition describes as God's will is no concern of this Congress," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) fired back.

To some people, it was a shock to hear a Democrat say those words out loud. But to others, it only confirmed what we've known all along: God has been of "no concern" to top Democrats for years. And if Americans don't continue to push back and demand respect for our First Freedom, it won't be long until the climate of hostility in Helsinki comes here.


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