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Tony Perkins / Feb. 27, 2021

Train Pork a Sign COVID Bill Is off the Rails

The only justice taxpayers should want is seeing this bill defeated.

The bill was supposed to help America recover from COVID — not make taxpayers sick. Unfortunately for our economy, Democrats don’t seem to know the difference between a relief package and pork. The Left’s 591-page excuse for a “rescue plan” is so loaded down with waste that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) might need the $112 million Bay Area transit expansion — just to get out of town. Most voters, she ought to know, don’t appreciate being railroaded.

And it shouldn’t be hard to pull back the curtain on the rest of the COVID relief, thanks to the sizable chunk of cash going to the National Endowment for the Arts. The controversial group is slated for a $135 million bonus — but don’t expect them to play a leading role in virus containment. There’s another $1.5 million for a Seaway bridge to Canada, more than $200 million for The Institute of Museum and Library Services, and $50 million in political kickbacks for groups like Planned Parenthood. All told, experts say, only 10 percent of Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID “relief” bill actually goes to fighting the pandemic.

Even some Democrats are having a hard time excusing what leadership is passing off as “essential spending.” New York’s Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D) said on CNN he was “embarrassed” by the unrelated pork. Pressed on how he felt about the package being debated Friday, he admitted candidly, “The answer, no, I’m not comfortable [with it].” And he shouldn’t be. Republicans have seized on the line-items, blasting Democrats for exploiting the crisis to pad their friends’ pockets. “It’s a disgrace that Democrats are trying to push through a bill where 90 percent of the spending doesn’t actually have anything to do with COVID,” one GOP strategist told Politico. “It is an absolute a slap in the face to everyone who has actually been killed, who have had their businesses destroyed by these lockdowns.”

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), like so many Americans, took real exception to Democrats using this bill as a front to bankroll abortion. In the $10 billion of foreign assistance alone, at least $745 million could be used to pay for abortions — breaking a 47-year precedent that overseas aid can’t be used to take unborn lives. “They want to get rid of all the Hyde Amendment language,” she argued. “They want to get rid of any of the provisions that would deal with no federal funding [of] abortion [like] the Mexico City policy. All of that they just want to wipe away. They even are changing the paycheck protection program so that Planned Parenthood can apply for [COVID relief loans].”

Blackburn says she’s been on the phone non-stop with constituents in Tennessee, worried about the financial implications of such a bloated bill. “It’s bad politics for them,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) agreed. “Because the narrative is that they’re liberal, they just spend money like there’s no tomorrow. And every time there’s a crisis they load it up with spending.”

This is a pork blowout, people have pointed out, that includes $1 billion in racial justice funds for black farmers. What does that have to do with beating COVID? Heck if Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) knows. “I think it’s wrong. I don’t understand the justification of this.” Nor do conservatives seem to understand the $40 million in “Native American language preservation” or $50 million for “environmental justice.”

The only justice taxpayers should want is seeing this bill defeated. If it’s not, Americans will be riding Pelosi’s $112 million gravy train right off a fiscal cliff.

Originally published here.

Rand Paul Pushes for Sanity in the Transgender Debate

Keira Bell can never get her childhood back. And her body, a scarred and mangled reminder, reminds her every day. “I am living in a world where I don’t fit in as male or as female. I am stuck between two sexes.” Now 24, she’s dedicated her life to stop teenagers from making the same mistake. Unfortunately, Keira won’t get any help from the Biden administration. As Thursday’s eye-opening hearing made painfully clear, this is one White House that doesn’t mind how many children its agenda hurts.

Like most parents, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has watched this train of transgender activism barrel down the tracks at speeds no one can believe. In just a handful of years, he’s seen the Left’s activists work our country over, softening it up for the end of the sexes, the mutilation of young healthy bodies, the deconstruction of science and medicine. He’s listened to his colleagues call the ravaging of girls’ sports “tolerance” and the outrage over boys in female locker rooms “hate.” Now, stuck with a president who thinks transgenderism is the most pressing issue of our time, it’s starting to sink in: this crisis is real. And our country is in deep, deep trouble.

Americans realized just how much this week, when Joe Biden asked the Senate to confirm Rachel Levine, a man who identifies as a woman, as second-in-command at HHS. Senator Paul, not caring how the Left would savage him, decided to give the nation a glimpse of what Levine’s views would mean for “health care.” A doctor himself, Paul put Levine on the spot on an issue that’s getting fierce pushback in the states. “Dr. Levine you have supported both allowing minors to be given hormone blockers to prevent them from going through puberty, as well as surgical destruction of a minor’s genitalia. Like surgical mutilation, hormonal interruption of puberty can permanently alter and prevent secondary sexual characteristics,” he pointed out. Not to mention, Paul went on, that scientific research shows that 80-95 percent of confused children grow out of these feelings. That said, he asked, “Do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?”

Levine avoided the question, responding instead that medicine is a “very complex and nuanced field” and promised to visit Paul’s office and talk about the “particulars” if the Senate confirmed him. The Kentucky doctor, recognizing the evasion for what it was, wasn’t deterred. “The specific question was about minors,” he reiterated. “Do you support the government intervening to override the parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia? You have said that you’re willing to accelerate the protocols for street kids. I’m alarmed that poor kids with no parents, who are homeless and distraught, you would just go through this and allow that to happen to a minor.”

Paul brought up Keira, saying he would hope that Levine would have compassion for a young girl like her, who decided at 14 after reading about transgenders on the internet, “Well, maybe that’s what I am.” Nobody stopped her from getting puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and having her breasts amputated. “I should have been challenged on the claims that I was making for myself,” Keira told judges later.

“But here’s what she says now,” Paul told the chamber, “and this is a very insightful decision from someone who made a mistake but was led to believe this was a good thing by the medical community. ‘I made a brash decision as a teenager, as a lot of teenagers do, trying to find confidence and happiness, except now the rest of my life will be negatively affected,’ she said… [T]he medicalized gender transitioning was a very temporary superficial fix for a very complex identity issue.

"What I’m alarmed at,” Paul shook is head, “is that you’re not willing to say absolutely, minors shouldn’t be making decisions to amputate their breasts or to amputate their genitalia. For most of our history, we believe that minors don’t have full rights, and the parents need to be involved. So I’m alarmed that you won’t say with certainty that minors should not have the ability to make the decision to take hormones. It will affect them for the rest of their life.” Pausing, he gave Levine a chance to answer again. “Will you make a [firmer] decision on whether or not minors should be involved in these decisions?” Again, Levine repeated that it was a “complex and nuanced question.” A frustrated Paul fired back, “Let it go into the record that the witness refused to answer the question,” and then blasted the Left’s double standard.

“For most of the history of medicine, we wouldn’t let you have a cut sewn up in the ER [without a parent’s permission]. But you’re willing to let a minor take things that prevent their puberty. And you think they get that back? You give a woman testosterone enough that she grows a beard — do you think she’s going to go back looking like a woman? When you stop the testosterone, you have permanently changed them. Infertility is another problem.

None of these drugs have been approved for this. They’re all being used off label. I find it ironic that the Left who went nuts over hydroxychloroquine being used possibly for COVID are not alarmed that these hormones are being used off label. There [are] no long term studies. We don’t know what happens to them. We do know that there are dozens and dozens of people have been through this who regret this… permanent change happened to them. And, you know, if you’ve ever been around children, 14-year-olds can’t make this decision. In the gender dysphoria clinic in England, 10 percent of the kids are between the ages of three and 10. We should be outraged that someone’s talking to a three-year-old about changing their sex.”

And in the states, plenty are. While the president moves at warp speed to sterilize our children and trap them in a lifestyle of misery and pain, more leaders are stepping up to say, “Not here.” As many as 28 bills are moving through the states to stop the Left from preying on teenagers and young kids. In places like Arkansas, one of the best pieces of legislation, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, is giving other states a good guide in how to stop medical professionals from dispensing certain drugs or performing gender transition procedures. If your state is debating the issue, make sure your elected officials know you support them. If you wonder what’s at stake — or need help understanding the science of this complicated issue — don’t miss FRC’s “Do Not Sterilize Children” guide.

Originally published here.

Choice Words for Education in the Virus Age

If there’s one silver lining to the coronavirus, it’s that public education is finally being exposed for the fraud that it is. Not only are parents starting to see what their children are being taught, but the nation is waking up to the fact that teachers unions don’t care about educating kids. They’re about protecting and feathering their own nest. And frankly, moms and dads are tired of it.

“COVID didn’t break the public school system,” the Reason Foundation’s Corey DeAngelis explained on “Washington Watch” Thursday. “It was already broken.” What the virus is doing is shining a light on the problem when it comes to K-12 education — and that’s “a massive power imbalance between the producers of the services — the public school monopoly and the teachers unions — and the individual families and their children.”

Parents have learned to live with schools getting their children’s education dollars despite their failure to meet the kids’ needs. “But it’s another conversation altogether,” Corey said, “for those same institutions to continue getting your children’s education dollars, regardless of whether they even open their doors for business.” Families are realizing that they’re getting a bad deal, and they’re starting to ask themselves a key question: “If my grocery store doesn’t reopen, I can take my money elsewhere. So why, if my school doesn’t reopen, can’t I take my children’s education dollars elsewhere?”

More and more Americans are watching their kids’ education suffer, and they’re starting to join the call for school choice. In polls across the country, the popularity of vouchers, education savings accounts, tax credit scholarships, and other ideas has been surging by double digits since COVID. In places like Chicago, where teachers unions are fighting to keep their doors closed, more families’ eyes have been opened to the fact that public education puts the needs of the system ahead of the needs of actual students. “That’s shameful,” Corey argued. In Oregon, he pointed out, a teachers’ union actually lobbied the government to “make it illegal to switch to virtual charter schools,” because they wanted to protect their monopoly at the expense of kids. “And we saw similar actions in California and Pennsylvania with their administrators association lobbying to make it illegal to switch the schools at the worst time possible when families were economically struggling and struggling to find an adequate education for their children.”

The reality is, Corey explained, the teachers’ unions can fight to keep classrooms closed because the schools get our money regardless. And until the government gives education an incentive to reopen — like withholding funds — the outrage will continue. At least for now, a majority of states — 27 or so — have introduced bills to allow families to take their education dollars to a private provider of the service. Maybe that, Corey hopes, will motivate the public schools to do a better job. When there’s a monetary enticement, they will open.

And despite what the unions are saying, we know this isn’t a safety issue – not just because the research says so, but because these same districts are opening their buildings for in-person child care services (and then turning around and charging parents out of pocket). “It was good for the employees,” Corey explained, “because they got a public sector employee to stay home. The private sector employees got to make an extra buck… There’s just been a [lot of] hypocrisy over the past few months.”

Fortunately, parents aren’t taking the situation sitting down. They’re driving a nationwide conversation about school choice that’s already resulted in five states — Arizona, Iowa, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kansas — passing bills out of committee that puts education decision-making back in families’ hands. And the movement is only building steam.

People are starting to realize that Washington can’t bully states around – not when they only kick in about eight percent of the states’ education budgets. The federal government wants to dictate what happens in our classrooms, but at the end of the day, Americans are paying the bulk of the price through property and state taxes. You, as the parent, should be determining what’s happening in your local community. And the best way to do that is to get behind legislation where the funds follow the students.

“Families have always gotten the short end of the stick on K–12 education. But it’s more obvious now than ever,” Corey said, “ and families are figuring out they’re getting a bad deal. The only way that we’re ever going to fix that uneven power dynamic is to give families real options by funding students directly.”

Originally published here.

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

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