Tony Perkins / November 12, 2015

Parliamentary Games

No more excuses. That’s the message from [Tuesday’s] Senate news. After weeks of worrying that their budget reconciliation bill would hit a procedural wall, conservatives can finally exhale. According to leadership staff, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough gave the thumbs up to the GOP’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood through the expedited budgetary process.

No more excuses. That’s the message from [Tuesday’s] Senate news. After weeks of worrying that their budget reconciliation bill would hit a procedural wall, conservatives can finally exhale. According to leadership staff, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough gave the thumbs up to the GOP’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood through the expedited budgetary process.

Don Stewart, part of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) team, told reporters, “Today the Senate Parliamentarian advised us that [the House’s] ObamaCare repeal bill can proceed under the rules of reconciliation. The Parliamentarian also confirmed that the restrictions on payments to certain health care providers in section 201 of the House bill can be accomplished consistent with the Byrd rule.”

Although there may still be some snags with the ObamaCare portion, the problems aren’t insurmountable ones. In fact, Senate Republicans are already trying to work out the math so that the health care repeal qualifies under the Byrd rule. To ensure it does, the GOP has to prove that the bill reduces the deficit or somehow offsets spending — which was a little complicated by the House’s work on the debt ceiling increase.

Once Republicans work out the kinks and make the ObamaCare piece compliant, it will be a significant step toward the country’s goal: undoing a $2 trillion health care disaster and holding a callous harvester of baby parts accountable. It also removes a key obstacle for some Republicans, who’ve been hiding behind the parliamentarian in their anxiety about defunding Planned Parenthood.

Of course, not everyone was pleased by the news — including some conservatives, who think protecting taxpayers from Cecile Richards’s harvesting ring detracts from their health care goals. But here’s the thing: conservatives don’t have to choose! They can send a bill to the president’s desk that puts the burden on him to stand by two overwhelmingly unpopular agendas. That’s the beauty of the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which House leaders like Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) worked so hard to craft. Now, thanks to their diligence and MacDonough’s ruling, senators can get to work improving the bill at hand. Republicans had already talked about expanding the reach of the health care repeal. And while it may not take ObamaCare out by the roots, it will severely cut back its impact.

As McConnell said late [Tuesday], this is all a big step in the right direction. “We want to make sure the American people know we’re still on their side, and that’s the reason we intend to send ObamaCare repeal to the president’s desk.” Encourage your senators to do their part to get it there!

GOP Candidates Drop the F-word: Family

[Tuesday] night’s GOP debate wasn’t focused on social issues, by design. But there’s a natural connection between the two Fs — fiscal and family — that all candidates should have seized on. Unfortunately, only a handful did, making a compelling case that the country’s economic problems have a deep cultural component.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Santorum masterfully threaded the needle on America’s fiscal and social woes. “If the family breaks down, society breaks down,” Senator Rubio argued. “You can’t have a strong nation without strong values, and no one is born with strong values. They have to be taught to you in strong families and reinforced in you in strong communities. And so when we set out to do tax reform, we endeavor to have a pro-family tax code, and we endeavor to do it because we know how difficult it is for families in the 21st century to afford the cost of living.”

In the earlier debate, Senator Santorum, who had a stellar night on both foreign and economic policy, leaned on his strengths as a full-portfolio conservative. As someone who’s consistently fought to include the family in the conversation of economic solutions, Rick did what he does best.

“The problem with the tax code today,” he pointed out, “because of all the different provisions, you’re right, you go back to work, you lose welfare benefits, you’re losing money. Throw on top of that the even a bigger problem, over 50 percent of children being raised in a home today of a single mom are raised in a home where the father is born — father is (sic) living at the child — the time the child is born. Now what does that mean? That means we have incentivized people not to marry. We’ve incentivized people to cohabitate instead of [marry], why? Because mom will lose welfare benefits if she marries father. It’s not just mom going back to work, but it’s mother and father marrying to form a more stable family for that child to grow up in.”

While the rest of the presidential hopefuls danced around the issue, Santorum was clear: “[T]he biggest problem in America today at the hollowing out of the middle of America is the breakdown of the nuclear family in America. We’d better be the party that’s out there talking about this issue and what we’re going to do to help strengthen marriage and return dads into homes in all communities.”

One of my personal disappointments from Tuesday was the lack of discussion about religious liberty. At first blush, it may not seem relevant in a discussion of economics — but the research tells a different story. Not only does religious practice contribute to more regular employment, but it’s also a source of social capital. One study found a positive relationship between religious freedom and ten of the twelve pillars of global competitiveness measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. Research continues to show that when religious freedom flourishes, corruption is lowered, there’s more peace, less harmful regulation, reduced liabilities, and more diversity and growth. Religious freedom is important for peace and security, which in turn permit economic growth and prosperity. Under the current administration, we have less of both.


Equality Control: WH Throws Weight behind Radical Bill

The rest of the country may have gotten the message from Houston — but obviously, President Obama did not. A week after his sexual extremism took a drubbing at the ballot box (62-38%), the White House is back at it, pushing an agenda even more radical than Mayor Annise Parker’s bathroom ordinance!

The same day the president was featured on a homosexual activist magazine as the “Ally of the Year” (more like seven years), Obama seemed determined to prove it — announcing his support for the so-called Equality Act introduced in the House this summer. After review, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, it’s clear that the administration “strongly supports” the legislation that would dramatically alter the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to force Americans conformity on homosexuality and transgenderism.

“This bill is historic legislation that would advance the cause of equality for millions of Americans,” Earnest insisted. “We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the legislative process produces a result that balances both the bedrock principles of civil rights… with the religious liberty that we hold dear in this country.” Who’s “we?” Surely not the president, whose support for this measure indicates that he’s not at all serious about protecting the freedom of belief. Under this bill, anyone who objects to homosexuality on moral grounds would be severely punished. Religious liberty measures would almost cease to exist.

Andrew Walker released a scathing analysis of the bill in July, arguing that if passed, the so-called Equality Act would “Further erode religious liberty, transform public opinion on sexuality, and harm the public perception of those who believe in traditional or biblical sexual morality.”

Of course, the president’s party was already trying to move legislation that would suffocate employers’ rights to run their workplace the way they see fit. Under its Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), profits give way to political correctness, as radicals impose their warped view of sexuality on every daycare, school administrator, and business across America. The Equality Act is so expansive it makes ENDA look like a conservative bill! And while the GOP may have an edge in votes, the White House is serving notice that Republicans had better be ready to push back — and soon.

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

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