The Patriot Post® · Daily Digest
“The most perfect freedom consists in obeying the dictates of right reason, and submitting to natural law. When a man goes beyond or contrary to the law of nature and reason, he becomes the slave of base passions and vile lusts; he introduces confusion and disorder into society, and brings misery and destruction upon himself. This, therefore, cannot be called a state of freedom, but a state of the vilest slavery and the most dreadful bondage.” –Samuel West (1776)
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
A Poor Record on Poverty
Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” has cost more than $20 trillion over 50 years while the percentage of Americans living below the federal poverty line fell only slightly. It’s also no surprise that the poor have become poorer under Barack Obama’s redistribution policies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of the population living in short-term poverty (two months to three years) between 2005 and 2007 was 27%. Between 2009 and 2011, however, that number increased to 31.6%. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has ballooned to 47 million, which is 13 million more than in 2009. Obama’s solution to this malaise is to harp on class warfare. Extending unemployment benefits and welfare while raising the minimum wage won’t cut it – unless poverty is the goal.
Semantics of Welfare
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) says that maybe the problem with welfare is calling it welfare. “Maybe the word welfare should be changed to something of, ‘a transitional living fund,’” she said. “For that is what it is – for people to be able to live.” If the war on poverty has become one of semantics, it’s a bad indication of the status of that war.
Obama’s Budget Backlog
Another year, another missed budget deadline. For the fifth time in six years, Barack Obama will not have a budget ready to send to Congress by the legal deadline of Feb. 1. The White House says it’s at least a month behind schedule, which would be a slight improvement over last year – that one was two months late. There’s no consequence for Obama being late and plenty to gain politically, which is the only reason he brushes his teeth in the morning. Delaying his budget means appropriators can’t really begin their own budget work, and it means less time for pre-election battles over spending. Then again, a budget implies spending within one’s means. It would be more fitting for the administration to simply abandon the pretense.
Penalty Flag for Redskins
The name of a football team is still leaving leftists red-faced. The Washington Redskins have been the target of a renewed effort to purge the politically incorrect term from our midst. The latest development in this ridiculous kerfuffle is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) rejected a pork rind company’s bid to trademark the name “Redskins Hog Rinds” because the name is “derogatory slang.” Though the NFL team isn’t affiliated with the pork rinds maker, the determination could spell trouble for the Redskins as the PTO is presently considering its trademark. If the trademark is revoked, the team may have no choice but to succumb to political pressure from the professionally aggrieved.
Biden’s Gloomy Outlook
Joe Biden was in New York Tuesday discussing ways government investments in infrastructural projects have helped propel the state after Hurricane Sandy swept through the Northeast. And despite the bitter, record shattering Arctic airmass that gripped most of the nation early this week, the vice president just had to throw the topic of man-made global warming into the mix. “If we don’t build smart, if we don’t build resiliency in the communities,” he warned,“ we’re not going to be able to in the next two, five, 10, 20 years, live along the coast.” He followed up with his own foolproof outlook: “Now, I know there’s global warming deniers,” he said. “I’m not going to get into that today, but the reality is, [storms like Sandy are] going to continue to happen.” Well, yeah. Mr. Biden should catch up on some history.
For more, visit Right Hooks.
Little Sisters and Big Brother
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Both pieces of this statement – the so-called “Establishment Clause” and the “Free Exercise Clause” – were originally crafted as two sides of the same coin. The idea was that the federal government could not establish a “national religion,” nor could a federal law bar a citizen from worshipping in a manner he/she deemed fit.
Though the idea behind the “Religion Clauses” is simple enough – keeping government out of the religion business, as opposed to the Left’s preference of keeping religious citizens out of the government’s business – over the past 65 years the Free Exercise clause has slowly but steadily taken a back seat to the Establishment Clause. The upshot has been that if anything smacks of Christianity, it can have no part of a governmental rule, even if the result is to trample a person’s free exercise of religion.
Enter the Little Sisters of the Poor, a charitable organization of nuns who exercise their Catholic faith by caring for the elderly and terminally ill in nursing homes and hospices around the country. Under ObamaCare rules taking effect in 2014, all employer health plans must provide contraception coverage or else pay a hefty tax fine. For the Little Sisters, that penalty amounts to an eye-popping $2.5 million. To qualify for an exemption to these rules – a so-called “accommodation” – religious organizations must sign a statement certifying that, “on account of religious objections, the organization opposes providing coverage for some or all of any contraceptive services that would otherwise be required to be covered.” This charade allegedly lets the organization off the hook for providing such coverage but only by shifting that responsibility to a third party. The Little Sisters rightfully claim that such an “accommodation” simply puts them in the worse position of forcing someone else to pay for something Little Sisters objects to on religious grounds.
Attacking this claim, the Obama Justice Department sought to block a temporary injunction to enforcement of the rule. The injunction was nonetheless granted by none other than Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The Justice Department’s counter is that the third-party organization that would have borne the responsibility of paying for contraceptives and abortifacients itself qualifies for an accommodation, too, since Little Sisters is insured under a church plan, also run by a Christian order. As Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued, since everyone is effectively “off the hook,” Little Sisters has no basis for its claim. Of course, the Obama administration has already promised to close this particular loophole in future rulemaking, but we digress.
However, Little Sisters’ argument is that independent of whether the insurer is itself exempt, by signing the accommodation statement Little Sisters effectively endorses the insurer to fund things that are repugnant to Little Sisters and its members. That the insurer chooses not to fund these activities is a far cry from the Constitution’s guarantee that the Little Sisters can freely exercise their religious beliefs. But the real issue here is whether the state’s interest in enforcing a law that violates an individual’s – or, as here, an assembly of individuals’ – deeply held religious convictions is sufficient to abridge a constitutional guarantee. The Constitution is abundantly clear on this answer: “No.” Unfortunately, however, for the current statist regime the answer is, “Yes, absolutely.”
Hope ‘n Change: The Big Insurance Bailout
While a lot of conversation is percolating about ObamaCare being the gateway to a single-payer health care system such as those strangling Canada and the United Kingdom, there’s another financial concern for the interim and it involves those insurance companies allowed to participate in the various federal and state exchanges. Few can escape the fact that health plans now feature higher premiums and deductibles than the ones we were supposed to be able to keep if we liked them. Since there’s such a disincentive to purchase, Democrats had to ensure that insurance companies would survive. That requires the right incentives and enough taxpayer money to make it worth their while.
Charles Krauthammer shrewdly points out in a recent column that Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provide a means for the federal government to bail out insurers who are seeing the coveted youth market decide to forgo coverage while those who can afford the coverage thanks to massive federal subsidies tend to be older and sicker. In a normal market, this would be a recipe for failure.
But Section 1341, writes Krauthammer, provides for a $20 billion “reinsurance” fund over the next three years while Section 1342 allows insurers who have costs as little as 8% over a predetermined “target” amount to recoup 80% of these excesses. As Newt Gingrich notes, “This is a system that encourages the insurance companies to be unrealistic about their risks because you the taxpayer are set up to cover their mistakes.”
As Krauthammer sees it, the solution would be to excise both these bailouts from ObamaCare, either as a standalone measure or as an amendment to the upcoming debt ceiling bill. In the current political climate, though, the question is whether GOP leadership would carry through with such a fight.
For more, visit Right Analysis.
Don’t miss Mark Alexander’s essay: Ducking From the Truth.
TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
- Ann Coulter: Could We Get Some Immigrants Who Can Take a Poll?
- Arnold Ahlert: Robert Gates Confirms 'Party of Defeat’ Narrative
- Ken Blackwell: They Will Lie to Your Casket
- Larry Elder: CNN’s Crowley: Why Would the Out-of-Work Vote Republican?
- Victor Davis Hanson: Is China Copying the Old Imperial Japan?
For more, visit Right Opinion.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Columnist George Will: “The next item on Gesture Liberalism’s agenda is to raise the minimum wage for the 23rd time. … Raising the minimum is a gesture of devotion to ‘equality.’ As is Obama’s support for universal preschool, the centerpiece of the agenda of New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio. When, in Obama’s first Inaugural address, he vowed to ‘restore science to its rightful place,’ he evidently meant to exclude social science: There is much discouraging data about the efficacy of universal preschool. It will, however, mean billions for hiring more members of teachers unions, whose dues will help elect the likes of Obama and de Blasio. So this component of Gesture Liberalism is more than just a gesture.”
Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “As a broad generalization, liberals see income as a public good that is distributed, like crayons in a kindergarten class. If so-and-so didn’t get his or her fair share of income, it’s because someone or something – government, the system – didn’t distribute income properly. To the extent conservatives see income inequality as a problem, it is as an indication of more concrete problems. If the poor and middle class are falling behind the wealthy, it might be a sign of declining or stagnating wages or lackluster job creation. In other words, liberals tend to see income inequality as the disease, and conservatives tend to see it as a symptom.”
President James Buchanan (1791-1868): “Our present financial condition is without a parallel in history. … This almost necessarily gives birth to extravagant legislation. It produces wild schemes of expenditure and begets a race of speculators and jobbers, whose ingenuity is exerted in contriving and promoting expedients to obtain public money. The purity of official agents, whether rightfully or wrongfully, is suspected, and the character of the government suffers in the estimation of the people.”
Columnist Keith Koffler: “Liberals believe their ideology has been vindicated after having finally realized the dream of universal health care under President Barack Obama. But they are like Napoleon in Moscow, sitting atop imaginary spoils while enjoying the mirage of victory. If Republicans do the right thing, they can send their adversaries limping back to Paris, picking off remnants of the defeated battalions along the way. Obamacare is not just going to be a failure. It will be a grotesque carcass fit for exhibition in a political museum of morbid curiosities, elucidating every single fault that lies with liberalism.”
Comedian Argus Hamilton: “The Weather Channel reported record low temperatures in the United States Sunday from Minnesota all the way down south to the Gulf Coast. Many of America’s interior waterways were frozen solid. It’s so cold in Tennessee that Al Gore is sticking to his theory.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
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