Right Opinion

The Plane Truth About HHS's Private Jets

Tony Perkins · Sep. 29, 2017

Liberals couldn’t stop Sec. Tom Price from being confirmed, but they’re sure doing everything they can to destroy him now that he is. Desperate to stop him from fulfilling the president’s promises by reversing the policies of the previous administration on issues like abortion, conscience, and health care, the Left has turned up the fire on the Health and Human Services chief in the hopes of elbowing out one of the most pro-life members of Trump’s cabinet. And this time, it’s using something as simple as air travel to do it.

Like a lot of top government officials, Price has the option to charter a private plane for official government business — especially if there are security concerns or “no scheduled commercial airline service is reasonably available.” In the last several months, liberals complain, the secretary has taken two dozen private planes to events around the country — a luxury, they argue, that costs taxpayers. Of course, that’s only a sliver of the travel Price has done since May, but that doesn’t matter to Democrats, who want nothing more than to oust one of the staunchest conservatives on Trump’s team.

Despite following protocol and having the charters pre-approved by department counsel, Secretary Price said yesterday that he “regret[s] the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars … and to make sure everyone knows that this will never happen again, I am taking the following steps:

  • "My staff and I will continue to cooperate fully with the OIG and internal review.

  • "I will take no more private charter flights as Secretary of HHS. No exceptions.

  • "Today, I will write a personal check to the U.S. Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes.”

The Left’s reaction to the news of the private charters said plenty. Some liberals began demanding Price to resign before an inquiry had even taken place! “In light of your breach of the public trust, we write to urge you to do the right thing and immediately tender your resignation,” House Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) wrote to the HHS boss. That’s a bit premature — but not surprising, given the Left’s own admissions that it’s open season on Price. Earlier this month, The New York Times blew the lid off of a coordinated effort to unseat the HHS secretary. A coalition of liberal groups called Protect our Care was pretty open about its agenda, insisting that it would “soon launch a new website that will be highly critical of Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services.” Obviously, this latest smear campaign is no coincidence.

Knowing Tom Price as I have, there’s no doubt in my mind that he meticulously followed every rule. The department’s legal team would have been consulted before he stepped foot on these charters. In the end, though, this isn’t about Secretary Price’s ethics, it’s about trying to discredit one of the most effective social conservatives in Washington. And now that Congress’s Obamacare repeal is on ice, the Left knows better than anyone that any modifications to the law will be done directly through HHS. Obviously, the abortion industry — and Planned Parenthood especially — will do everything it can to stop those changes from happening. Distracting Price is all part of the Democrats’ strategy to keep HHS from following through with the president’s promises and policies. As usual, they can’t seem to achieve that through anything but personal (and baseless) attacks.

Originally published here.

GOP Reform Stops Voters in Their Tax

If you’re looking for some light reading, skip the federal tax code. Clocking in at 74,608 pages, it’s one of the most complicated and cumbersome documents Washington has ever produced. House Republicans are pledging to change that, unveiling a simple nine-page framework for rewriting the guiding document for the most loathed agencies in DC: the IRS.

At a mini-retreat Wednesday, the GOP tried to regroup on its next big project now that the health care repeal is stuck in Senate limbo until the next fiscal year. One way Republicans are hoping to woo back angry voters is by slashing their sky-high taxes and letting families keep more of their hard-earned money. For House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Budget Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), this has been a longtime goal — one that President Trump is determined to make a reality.

At a speech in Indiana Wednesday, the president called it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.” The billionaire businessman was quick to remind people that they have a tax expert in chief. “I guess it’s probably something I could say that I’m very good at. We’re going to cut taxes for the middle class, make the tax code simpler and fairer for everyday Americans. And we are going to bring back the jobs and wealth that have left our country and most people thought left our country for good.”

Together with House Republicans, he wants to reduce the personal income tax brackets from seven to three (12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent), double the standard deduction for married and single filers, cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, and kill the death tax, among other things. Since proposing the very first child tax credit, FRC has fought to make the family — the engine of the economy — the center of tax reform. But instead of rewarding families for their role, the government punishes them — not realizing that what Washington does to family budgets has long-term effects on the country as a whole.

The GOP blueprint makes the tax code fairer, simpler, and more efficient. Conservatives should cheer the increase of the child tax credit, end of the estate tax, and the inclusion of a care credit, which lets families better provide for their loved ones. Unlike the Obama administration, which threatened to turn philanthropy upside down, the Republican plan keeps the tax incentives for charitable contributions.

If all goes according to plan (a big “if” in this Congress!), the House hopes to have the bill to the Senate by the end of October and to Trump’s desk by year-end. If it can manage it, Americans would have a lot more jingle in their pockets this Christmas!

Originally published here.

Steve Scalise’s Miraculous Return to Congress

With so much anger and division boiling over in the country, nothing could have come at a better time than Rep. Steve Scalise’s (R-LA) return to Congress. It was a powerful moment exactly when America needed one — watching the hobbled majority whip make his way across the House floor, a scene many wondered if they’d ever see again. Just months ago, he was hovering between life and death, the victim of a vicious shooting that forever changed his life — and countless others’. Now, he’s returning to Congress — reminding Americans what’s truly important in the process.

The picture of survival and strength, Scalise talked about how overwhelmed he was by the outpouring of love, warmth, and prayer over the last three and a half months.

It’s given us the strength to get through all of this and to get to this point today. And it starts with God, when I was laying out on that ball field, the first thing I did once I was down and couldn’t move anymore is I just started to pray, and I’ll tell you it gave me an unbelievable sense of calm knowing that at that point it was in God’s hands. But I prayed for very specific things. I will tell you pretty much every one of those prayers was answered. And they were some pretty challenging prayers that I was putting in God’s hands — but He really did deliver for me and my family and it just gives you that renewed faith and understanding that the power of prayer is something that you just cannot underestimate so I’m definitely a living example that miracles really do happen.

It was a tragedy, he said, that transcended politics. Democrats, Republicans — it no longer mattered.

So many of you, again both Republican and Democrat, reached out in ways that I can’t express the gratitude and how much it means to me, Jennifer, and our whole family. It really does show the warm side of Congress that very few people get to see. I want to thank each and every one of you for that. You don’t know how much it meant to me. … Every one of us, we come here and we fight for the things we believe in. I have passionate beliefs for some reason some of you don’t agree with all of those, but it is so important that we come up here, we are the People’s House. This is the place where these ideas are supposed to be debated, and we fight through those issues, but ultimately we come together.

While the country struggles to find its footing in so much turmoil, Steve reminds us that there’s something that binds us all together as Americans: a common kindness, compassion, and decency. “I got to see that goodness in people,” he told his colleagues, “and while some people might focus on a tragic event and an evil act, to me all I remember are the thousands of acts of kindness and warmth that came out of all of this and kept me going through all of it and again just reemphasized just how wonderful most people are and how much compassion there is out there.”

From all of us at FRC, welcome back to Congress, Steve! We continue to pray for your complete recovery, but in the meantime, we’re looking forward to getting back to the business of defending faith, family, and freedom with you in the House.

Originally published here.


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

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