“Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they’ve got.” - Bill Clinton
“Honor” is not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of Bill Clinton. It is thus not wholly without irony that the proclaimer of, “I did not have sex with that woman” talks about public moral obligation.
Substantively, Clinton has a point. The President made, repetitively, two promises: That those who want to keep their current health insurance could do so, and that they could also retain their current physicians.
One of three things happened: (1) The President lied. (2) His advisors misled him and sent him out with incorrect information. (3) The President didn’t take the time to read and grasp what was in his own mammoth proposal.
If the third option is correct, this makes Mr. Obama far from unique. Many Washington politicians don’t know the details of the bills about which they vote. They rely on aides to give them succinct summaries or quickly read “vote justification” sheets handed to them by leadership staff as they enter the House or Senate chambers.
This is troubling, but also understandable: The size and scope of the federal government and its laws and regulations is almost incomprehensible, and massive legislative tomes, many of which are written in technical legal language, frequently are too long and too dense for careful review prior to the time set to vote on them.
Yet this is a different case. The President of the United States put forward two essential un-truths about his signature domestic policy achievement, one that he touted as “a new season for America.” If anyone should have understood his law, he should have.
I take no pleasure in accusing Mr. Obama of either deliberate lying or disturbing inattention. It’s worth noting that such traits cut across party lines, political convictions, and status of office. Mr. Obama would not be unique among politicians or presidents in persistently telling a falsehood or trusting unwisely in the reassurances of unelected advisors. But this makes him no less responsible for his misrepresentations.
Christians should not gloat over Mr. Obama’s failures. We should, instead, pray for our President and for the other national leaders who now must sort through the devastation the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is wreaking.
The new season Mr. Obama promised is indeed upon us. The chill is penetrating to the national core.
New York City, one of the world’s abortion capitals, this week elected a new mayor with a dangerously radical abortion agenda. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has openly declared war on non-profit Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) while promising unwavering support for abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.
According to LifeSite News, de Blasio, “has promised to partner with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to help them expand their business in the city. He says he plans to help abortionists find neighborhoods that lack convenient clinic access and provide them with ‘city sponsored’ space to set up shop.” In conjunction with his commitment to increase the number of abortion facilities in New York, he proposes requiring doctors trained in city hospitals to train to perform abortion, all while closing the doors of PRCs.
“De Blasio calls crisis pregnancy centers ‘sham’ clinics. In his view, their refusal to perform abortions means they do not offer ‘legitimate health care.’ He has pledged to continue the city’s appeal of a court order striking down a law aimed at closing down such centers.”
In the event the court appeal fails, de Blasio says, he stands ready to ‘craft new regulations to prevent [crisis pregnancy] centers from masquerading as legitimate health care providers’.”
Pregnancy care centers, far from being a “sham,” are typically the only place women in crisis pregnancies can go to get accurate information about their pregnancy and available options. According to Family Research Council’s own publication, A Passion to Serve, in
2010, Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) served over 2.3 million people with pregnancy tests, counseling, referrals, ultrasounds, education, and material needs. These services saved communities a conservative estimate of $100million.
The new mayor’s plans not only put his ignorance on display, they reveal the fact that he is not interested in a woman’s “right to choose,” but rather, that he supports only the abortion “choice.”
After a nuclear war, President Kennedy warned, “the living will envy the dead.” Well, at least the dead don’t have to talk about ObamaCare. That topic has dominated America’s politics for five years. It may succeed in getting everyone covered — with sod. By boring us all to death.
Let’s shift gears. Let’s talk about ObamaCore, aka Common Core Education Standards.
Last week, I had a wonderful conversation with a National Board Certified Math teacher from the Midwest. This highly motivated and gifted teacher wanted to persuade FRC to embrace Common Core Education Standards. She made a strong case, claiming that the Common Core Math Standards were far better than what she had been working with before.
I had to defer to her judgment about that, since it’s been decades since I’ve darkened the door of a math class. But I pressed her gently on the idea that if these new math standards really were superior, what prevented her state from adopting them on their own?
Terry Killman and his grandson Eli are like two peas in a pod, almost inseparable. When Terry was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia almost three years ago, it was devastating to both of them. While Terry’s cancer was diagnosed early, it escalated dramatically. Terry declined drastically, and in months he was wasting away. His oncologist at one point told him he had to start treatment immediately or be dead within days.
An adult stem cell transplant from Terry’s brother, Vic, saved his life. Terry’s wife, Michelle, says “And to know now what they’re doing with adult stem cells is absolutely amazing.” Now the former Navy engine man is back to college studying to be a teacher, and fishing with his grandson. As Terry says, “If it wasn’t for the love of my family, I wouldn’t be here. We’re very tight. You trust in God to carry you through, because between family and faith, you’ve got to have both to survive.”
For several years in the early 1990s, I had the privilege of serving on the staff of U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). In 1999, Sen. Coats left the Senate, pursued other interests, served as our Ambassador to Germany, and then in 2010, was re-elected to the Senate.
Many of us who have served on the Senator’s staff look back on the experience not just with fondness but pride. His integrity, moral courage, personal warmth, and commitment to principle make him an exception among national political leaders. My colleague Pat Fagan, who was on Coats’ staff prior to me, and I both agreed today that we are always proud to say that we worked for Dan Coats.
Today, Sen. Coats gave an eloquent speech warning that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) “raises very serious concerns regarding religious freedom. The so-called protections from religious liberty in this bill are vaguely defined and do not extend to all organizations that wish to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs in their hiring practices. This bill also would allow employers to be held liable to workplace environment complaints opening the door to the silencing of employees who express their deeply held beliefs. This possibility runs counter to everything America stands for in the realm of free speech.”
You can watch Sen. Coats’ speech here or read it here. Also, FRC’s ENDA resources provide a careful analysis of the dangers inherent in this “anti-discrimination” legislation:
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) appeared on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” and provided information about the latest developments of Obamacare:
“A lot of American middle class families are being hurt by this plan. Even if the [Healthcare.gov] website works perfectly, you still wouldn’t be able to keep your plan. It would still be 41 percent more than the plan you have now, and you probably wouldn’t get to keep your doctor. Even if the website worked perfectly, this is not about a website. This is about a basic change of the way you get your health care- putting a government bureaucrat in between you and your physician and that is not the way you want your health care delivered.”
The Manhattan Institute has released a current survey of the cost of all new healthcare exchange plans offered around the country. Harris points out that healthcare rates have increased an average of 41 percent. “Families are hard pressed to pay their health insurance bills now, much less 41 percent more,” Harris said.
Harris said Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) filed a bill in the Senate that will allow Americans to keep their current insurance if they want to. The House will be voting on this bill next week.
If you want to know at the human level why Obamacare is going to be a huge problem for the O-care supporters, watch this interview from Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program. The guest is a nurse, Joan Carrico, who lives in Michigan and has been fighting cancer for six years. She’s being dumped from her Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy – which she desperately wants to keep. (The details of her insurance struggle are infuriating. E.g., she can’t even get on the Obamacare website.) She is only one of many real people who are going to be suffering real injury after 12/31. The casualty lists may total in the millions.
The website Red State borrowed a phrase from Stalin on Thursday to make a point. Stalin said the death of one man is a tragedy, but the death of millions is a statistic. So, if we have 10 million or 93 million victims of Obamacare, does statism win? In this case, I don’t think so. Already Kudlow, Megyn Kelly, and Hannity are really focusing on these personal stories of loss. Other news outlets are being forced to as well. The Left knows the “optics” of this; this is how it pushes all its various agendas. Now, the tables are turned. That is why politicians like Senator Mary Landrieu are running for the hills.
Kudlow’s guests were: Robert Laszewski, Health Policy & Strategy Associates; Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute senior fellow; and, Scott Gottlieb, M.D. of American Enterprise Institute. Laszewski raises the possibility of using an “early renewal” for Mrs. Carrico – a little known insurance option that might allow her current policy to be extended into 2014. Health care bureaucrats hate this “loophole” because the cattle aren’t forced into Obamcare fast enough. So, many states have made it impossible to do this. Check with your insurance agent to see if it is possible for you.
This is sort of like the old joke, “Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” I’m sure knowing that some people still like certain parts of his plan is causing Mr. Obama no end of jubilation.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a substantive and technical disaster, poorly crafted, invasive, exorbitant, and statist. But it is on that last point – statism – that loyalty to it follows from the Left as night follows day.
That a powerful central government with practical supervisory control of all governments beneath it is a moral good is central to the belief system of modern liberalism. Since no philosophy can exist without authority (as a source of truth and implementation of its program), it is only logical that a political system that jettisons God and transcendent truth must claim an alternative to Him.
Thus, aggregations of political power are seen as substitutes for the divine. If there is no God, or at least One with any relevance to human affairs, the state becomes the instrument for personal and social transformation.
So, to challenge the premise of “Obamacare” is not just mean, uncompassionate, and unfair (the standard ripostes of the Left), it is political heresy. Asserting that huge, complex, and controlling federal programs are arrogant by definition, dubious in motivation, ineffective in implementation, and disastrous in effect — even if these contentions can be demonstrated logically, mathematically, and in practice — is an intolerable proposition that has to be squashed.
As a result, the liberal critique of Obamacare will never include a realistic appraisal of the plan itself, only of how to make it work better. It is for this reason that a number ofcommentators are proclaiming that modern political liberalism is in crisis.
Obamacare is the fruition of progressive hopes, a major leap forward to a statist society and one subtly but indelibly marketed as the harbinger of all government can and should do for its subjects — I mean, citizens. An axiological (functional) failure will force people to reconsider liberalism’s ontology (the very nature of its being).
It is for this reason that Obamacare’s defenders are writing just about anything they can, from blaming Republicans for the system’s poor launch to diminishing its inherent unworkability, to defend it. They are playing for high stakes — the very credibility of their comprehensive understanding of the meaning and purpose of the state — and they know it.
The bitter joke around the country these days is that, while President Obama’s approval ratings are the lowest they have been, Congress’ approval rating is lower than the Taliban’s. Well, there’s good reason for that. Most of us approve of what the House is doing and are angry at what the Senate is doing. Or, we love what the Senate is doing and loathe those crazy folks in the House. The key to all that loving/loathing is not what we think of Congress, per se, but what we think of our own representatives and senators.
But today, I want to salute Congress — both parties — for doing something right. They have just installed a bust of Winston Churchill. It was a special project of Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio). Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined in the praise at the ceremony.
And John Kerry, the longtime U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (D), is certainly right to point out that is may seem strange for the British Prime Minister to be so honored in the same Statuary Hall where our great revolutionary, Sam Adams, is honored. But, as Sec. of State Kerry says, it is right to do it. Sam Adams stood for liberty. He was willing to pledge to his fellow Signers of the Declaration of Independence his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor.
Commuting and working in Washington, D.C. affords many opportunities to engage in lively conversations with people who hold diverse opinions on controversial issues. With religious liberty currently being a hot topic, a recent discussion on First Amendment rights and religious expression turned into an instructive session for a group of adult men and women.
The conversation began with a recounting of the case of a New Mexico photographer who was fined $7000 for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment” ceremony due to her deeply held religious beliefs. The discussion then turned to the provision in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) which mandates that businesses and organizations provide contraceptives, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization procedures in their insurance plans.
Against this backdrop, the question was posed, “If you are the only pharmacist in a community and you don’t believe in the use of contraceptives, do you have an obligation to distribute contraceptives to the community regardless of your personal beliefs?” The consensus of the group, with a couple of exceptions including me, was yes; the pharmacist should comply and distribute the contraceptives for the “common good” of the community. One gentleman asked why the individuals seeking contraceptives could not simply travel to the next town to purchase them. A young woman responded, “It isn’t fair that I should be inconvenienced in getting my contraceptives.“
Her response raises a couple of important thoughts. First, why should the pharmacist have to violate his or her conscience for the convenience of others who can easily obtain abortion- inducing drugs or contraceptives elsewhere? The purchaser probably would not have to go far to obtain them, as access to contraceptives is certainly not a problem. Birth control and emergency contraceptives are available at grocery stores, every major retailer like Wal-Mart and Target, or online. Why does the purchaser’s convenience trump the pharmacist’s conscience?
Second, the assumption was made that the pharmacist would just be willing to acquiesce to the law, discard his or her moral convictions and distribute the objectionable pharmaceuticals. This assumption underestimates the strength and sacred nature of religious or moral convictions. A person with deeply held religious beliefs may very well choose to find another profession or move to another community rather than violate their conscience about such high priority personal matters. In such a case, the attempt to force the pharmacist to dispense the contraceptives against his or her will ends with the pharmacist taking their business to another community, thus leaving the original community potentially without a pharmacist at all.
Many well-intentioned but misguided people could benefit by better understanding the ramifications of limiting the freedom of people to live out their religious beliefs. Perhaps what seems best for one individual’s notion of the “common good” might have unfortunate consequences for many other members of the community. Americans have recognized since our founding the fundamental right of all citizens to free expression of religion and exercise of conscience as inherent, unalienable rights granted to us by God and secured and protected by the Constitution.