Tony Perkins / October 31, 2015

A Near-Debt Experience

America’s debt problems are enough to keep people up at night — and [Thursday], they did! While the rest of the country was counting sheep, Congress was counting votes on a controversial budget deal that finally passed in the wee hours of Friday morning. At 3:12 a.m., with the government’s credit completely maxed out, the Senate gave its approval to a deal that John Boehner hatched as one of his last acts as speaker.

America’s debt problems are enough to keep people up at night — and [Thursday], they did! While the rest of the country was counting sheep, Congress was counting votes on a controversial budget deal that finally passed in the wee hours of Friday morning. At 3:12 a.m., with the government’s credit completely maxed out, the Senate gave its approval to a deal that John Boehner hatched as one of his last acts as speaker.

The “truce,” as some are calling it, kicks the country’s debt problems into the post-Obama era with few meaningful cuts to the deficit in the meantime. Overall, the bill — which less than a third of House Republicans supported — balloons federal spending by another $80 billion over the next two years.

And while conservatives cheered the bump in Defense dollars, the agreement pushed any savings into later years when a future Congress could scrap them. That was the poison pill for most Republicans, who were pushing for equal cuts now to offset the spike in America’s borrowing limit. Apart from some modest reforms, conservatives didn’t get substantial help in reining in an out-of-control budget from the deal.

And it wasn’t just the substance the GOP didn’t like — but the process. “[It] stinks,” said new House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who was intentionally kept out of the negotiations to spare him any blame. In a rare criticism of Boehner, Speaker Ryan vowed to scrap this last-minute, closed-door budget scheming. “This is not the way to do the people’s business. And under new management, we are not going to the people’s business this way. We are up against a deadline — that’s unfortunate. But … as a conference we should’ve been meeting months ago to discuss these things to have a unified strategy going forward.”

Regardless of the hour, several Republicans took time to blast the deal on the Senate floor in the dead of night. Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) was outraged for people in his state, who take issue with the Democrats’ glowing review of the bill. “It was announced by the White House today that this is a great job-creating achievement,” he said, “but all they see is more spending and no change in the status quo… It’s actually zero savings. It’s not real.”

Not surprisingly, the deal’s 64 votes didn’t include any of the GOP presidential candidates, who left little to the imagination in their critique. “The Right’s going to get more military money, the Left’s going to get more welfare money. The secret handshake goes on, and the American public gets stuck with the bill,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued. “This deal will do nothing but explode the debt. If you are conservative, you will say, ‘There’s no way I’m going to vote to give an unlimited power to the president to borrow money.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was just as perturbed, pointing out that the agreement gives the president a “diamond-encrusted, glow-in-the-dark AmEx card.” “And it has a special feature,” he went on. “The president gets to spend it now, and they don’t even send him the bill. They send the bill to your kids and my kids. It’s a pretty nifty card. You don’t have to pay for it. You get to spend it, and it’s somebody else’s problem.”

Under this administration, America owes 75% more than it did under George W. Bush. And by the time this minute is over, we’ll owe two million dollars more. If Congress wants to know why voters are frustrated with Washington — we can think of at least 18 trillion reasons why!

Sex and the Cities…

Houston may be the fourth largest city in America, but it’s number one in media buzz heading into next Tuesday’s election. With everyone from celebrities to athletes weighing in on Proposition 1, the bathroom ordinance might be the most-watched issue of 2015. [Thursday], even Hillary Clinton weighed in on the side of the radical measure, which punishes people who refuse to celebrate transgenderism and homosexuality with massive fines. “No one should face discrimination for who they are,” she insisted. No one, apparently, except Christians, who are the target of this nationwide march to silence religious liberty in America.

Even Oscar-winner Sally Field is chiming in to sway locals in Proposition 1’s favor. “Everyone in this country is watching this,” she said at a rally. “This is incredibly important. Eyes are on Houston. This is Texas.” She’s right. It is Texas — where vibrant faith and individual freedom are cherished parts of everyday life. Stripping parents, local citizens, and businesses of their First Amendment rights isn’t Texan — and more importantly, it isn’t American. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped liberals from injecting a toxic agenda into school rooms, board rooms, and bathrooms across America.

As FRC’s Peter Sprigg explains, this movement isn’t anything new. Two decades ago, the homosexual movement began its quiet work through the public schools. Now, the transgender movement is following the same path. The issue exploded like a bombshell last May in Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, America’s 10th largest school district. That was when parents and taxpayers first learned of plans to add “gender identity” to the school system’s “non-discrimination” policy — meaning that “transgender” students of any age would be able to choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and which sex’s sports teams to play on.

Hundreds of stunned parents turned out at a school board meeting to protest, but their complaints fell mostly on deaf ears, as the board voted 10-1 to approve the radical new policy. Then, within days, they also adopted a new curriculum to teach “gender fluidity” lessons in the classroom (the timing was a coincidence, the board claimed). Members passed the buck for the unpopular policies to the Department of Education, which has threatened school districts with a loss of federal funds ($42 million annually to Fairfax schools) unless they treat the statutory prohibition on sex discrimination to include “gender identity.”

Soon, though, board members will answer to a higher authority — voters. A number of candidates opposed to the new transgender policies are challenging incumbents in the Fairfax County School Board elections next week. It’s crucial for pro-family voters to turn out and send a message that they do not want to be governed by sexual radicals and federal bureaucrats.

This week, FRC Senior Vice President Rob Schwarzwalder joined FCPS Board Member Elizabeth Schultz at a forum discussing the biblical view of parents and education (Schwarzwalder) and the stakes involved in the upcoming election (Schultz). Watch their presentations here.

Coach Takes a Stand from the Stands!

Bremerton High School’s football team was victorious in its last game of the season — which is the same outcome players are hoping for their assistant coach. Joe Kennedy, who was suspended by the school district earlier in the week for praying after games at the midfield line, was there to cheer on the Knights — but from the bleachers.

Watching, he told Fox News’s Todd Starnes, was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. But the coach wasn’t alone for long. After the game, his players streamed into the stands to hug and pray with their coach. It was a touching scene, as kids and fans alike knelt for the post-game tradition. “I’m willing to take this as far as it goes to defend the rights of the Constitution,” Coach Kennedy said. “If you believe in something you stand up.”

And so far, he doesn’t stand alone. The Marine veteran’s story, which has captured the attention of Congress, is getting a lift from Senator James Lankford, co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. On the Senate floor, he made a passionate plea for Washington to recommit itself to the freedoms — not just of Joe Kennedy — but every believer.

“May I remind Americans, we do not have freedom of worship in America. We have the free exercise of religion in America. Government does not have the authority to confine your faith to the location of government’s choosing. A government entity, like a school district, cannot say to an employee you can only live your faith over there where we pick. Mr. President, I don’t know what this school district is going to do in the days ahead but I know what Americans should do, of all faiths and people of no faith. They should rise up and say we are a nation that protects the free exercise of religion.”

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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