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Tony Perkins / May 31, 2017

GOP Starts Plan Handling

It’s a good thing the House and Senate are out this week. Judging by the headlines, they’ll need their rest to navigate choppy waters of the health care repeal when they return. Like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who managed to hold the shakiest of coalitions together for a May 4 vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his hands full juggling the personalities and agendas of 52 very different Republicans.

It’s a good thing the House and Senate are out this week. Judging by the headlines, they’ll need their rest to navigate choppy waters of the health care repeal when they return. Like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who managed to hold the shakiest of coalitions together for a May 4 vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his hands full juggling the personalities and agendas of 52 very different Republicans.

That job didn’t get any easier last week when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the House bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Both sides usually lean on the nonpartisan group to give a ballpark estimate of how much their proposals will cost. But, like most forecasters, CBO isn’t always right. Predicting something as enormous as one-sixth of the U.S. economy is tricky business, especially when there are so many factors outstanding. “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer pointed out, “you’re looking in the wrong place.”

Despite its wobbly track record, the Left seized on the CBO analysis of the GOP-passed bill as proof that the plan is doomed. Far from it, experts at The Wall Street Journal explain. Writing that this week’s “panic attack” should have been “diminished by the Congressional Budget Office’s [unreliability],” the editors go on to highlight the report’s biggest straw man: the 23 million who will supposedly be “uninsured” by 2026 as a result of the AHCA. At first glance, that’s an eye-popping number. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. Under the House bill, there’s no government-imposed mandate for people to buy insurance. And if they aren’t being fined for forgoing health care, guess what? Millions of Americans will once again choose to be uninsured. “CBO decided to classify these people as ‘uninsured,’ though without identifying who accepts Obamacare’s definition of standardized health benefits and why they deserve to substitute their judgment for the choices of individual consumers.”

Liberals have also latched on to the CBO’s “with ‘high-cost medical events.’” But, as the WSJ debunked, “under the House reform, Americans won’t have any problem insuring against a bad health event, even if CBO won’t admit it. The House bill is designed to create more alternatives that can accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of a nation of some 320 million people. CBO has become a fear factory because it prefers having the government decide for everybody.”

And look at where that failed philosophy has gotten us. The Obamacare exchanges are imploding. Premiums have skyrocketed an average of 105 percent — if you’re lucky. And if you’re not, you’re staring down $12,000 premiums like Alaskans. Thanks to President Obama, the average American on the individual market is paying almost $3,000 more in premiums this year than 2013. Insurance companies are racing for the exits, which means people have even fewer choices. In the states with just one option for coverage, there’s no competitive incentive to drive down costs. Doing nothing is no longer an option. From a practical and political standpoint, the GOP has to act.

And soon. With just seven weeks until the August recess, the Senate would be wise to lean into the positive parts of the House plan, which is that it would lower premiums starting in 2020, reduce spending by $119 billion, and save something even more precious: lives. After the latest batch of undercover videos on Planned Parenthood, a horrifying collection that ought to have every American clamoring for the end of taxpayer funding for the abortion giant, Republicans can save themselves some work by leaving the House’s pro-life provisions alone.

Frankly, it’s a national scandal that taxpayers have been forced into partnership with an organization that jokes about how “gross” it is when eyeballs from aborted babies roll down into its workers’ laps. Or a group that brags about ignoring the law against partial-birth abortion, saying “I might ask for a second set of forceps to hold the body at the cervix and pull off a leg or two, so it’s not PBA.” For once, Congress ought to listen to Planned Parenthood’s Lisa Harris, who doesn’t shy away from the truth about abortion. “Let’s just give them all the violence. It’s a person. It’s killing. Let’s just give them all that.” Every senator who watches this footage should come to the same conclusion as the majority of Americans: It’s time to end the federal gravy train to Planned Parenthood and redirect those dollars to the thousands of community health centers that provide more services to more women. Now is the time to act — no more excuses!

Originally published here.

Savage Can’t Salvage Credibility

Turns out, Dan Savage isn’t just inappropriate — he’s ineffective. That’s the conclusion of the University of Arizona on the controversial sex therapist’s “anti-bullying” program. The LGBT activist, who’s probably best known for his vulgar attacks against conservatives Christians, became a familiar face in 2010 when the White House touted his “It Gets Better” campaign for kids identifying as gay, bisexual, or transgender.

Everyone from President Obama to Hollywood’s Anne Hathaway taped videos for teens who feel picked on because of their struggles with sexuality. Given his history as a self-described “potty-mouthed political pundit,” it was somewhat of a shock when the White House decided to give Savage a platform for his one-sided, hate-filled assault against anyone (including high schoolers) with different beliefs. Now, the one campaign that gave Savage a scrap of legitimacy is being called into question after research showed that his “It Gets Better” advice may actually make kids’ problems worse.

After a survey of 245 teens who call themselves gay or bisexual, Professor Russell Toomey found that “Cognitive-based strategies, such as the ‘It Gets Better’ approach, were associated with poorer adjustment and less likelihood of high school attainment.” In fact, he went on, “Our findings question the ‘It Gets Better’ narrative that’s been given to LGB youth. Asking youth to accept negative experiences as the only coping strategy potentially exacerbates stress.”

Obviously, FRC is opposed to bullying for any reason. But people like Dan Savage are putting so much attention on homosexuality that it’s actually preventing society from dealing with the real problems of bullying. Even liberal surveys show that “students are more often bullied, called names, or harassed because of ‘the way they look or their body size’ than because of their sexual orientation.” Russell’s findings grabbed plenty of headlines, especially in liberal circles. But interestingly enough, the Left didn’t rush to defend Savage. Queerty, an LGBT website, let the study speak for itself. “It gets better … Or does it? Study finds anti-bullying catch phrase may do more harm than good.”

The Stream’s Tom Gilson thinks it’s significant that Savage’s own community isn’t rallying to his side. “[G]ays, lesbians, and their allies have a history of battling science that doesn’t support their agenda,” he writes. “Their usual claim is that the research is ‘flawed.’ (George Yancey wrote on this recently for The Stream.) For some reason they didn’t do that this time. Instead they’re practically throwing Savage under the bus… Have they perhaps noticed his extreme profanity and his blatant hypocrisy, along with his failed promises of life getting better? Are they embarrassed by Dan Savage? They certainly should be.”

Originally published here.

Reading, Writing, and Ramadan?

In San Diego, kids can finally celebrate their faith in schools — as long as that faith is Islam. In a bizarre move, the California school board voted unanimously to start incorporating more Muslim-themed lessons into classrooms. Officials of the San Diego Unified School District claim the decision will help combat “Islamophobia,” which they argue is rampant on campuses across the city.

Together with the radical Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the district worked on a broad plan to promote Islam through training materials, the school calendar, curriculum, and even “safe spaces” for Muslim students. To tamp down criticism (unsuccessfully), the board insisted that it wasn’t “endorsing a particular religion.” That’s interesting, since I sincerely doubt the district would have been quite so accommodating to Christians. Imagine the uproar if parents asked for “safe spaces” for kids bullied for their biblical beliefs!

Not surprisingly, the idea hasn’t exactly been a popular one with local families. In fact, some parents are so upset that they’re suing the district over the preferential treatment for Muslims. “Students of all faiths face daily bullying, but instead of protecting all religious students, the school district has selected Muslim students to receive special protection and resources," said a spokesman for one of the two nonprofit organizations joining the suit. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund is just as upset. "Plaintiffs do not wish for their children, as non-Muslims, to be accused of bias and bullying by the school district and CAIR if they express viewpoints or beliefs that may conflict with the School District’s and/or CAIR’s arbitrary, de facto interpretations of ‘bias’ and ‘bullying,’” it writes.

In the meantime, it’s a jarring double standard for most Christians to swallow. Here is San Diego, infusing “Islamic heritage” into lessons, when Christianity — the religion America was actually founded upon — is quarantined like a deadly disease from U.S. schools. Liberals say there’s absolutely no tolerance for faith in the public square — but obviously, what they meant was that there’s no tolerance for Christianity. While the government’s kicking prayer out of school and crosses from public land, places like San Diego are endorsing a religion of extremism. American schools have become the mecca of diversity. But when it comes to tolerance, Christians need not apply.

Originally published here.


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

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