ObamaCare

Pass A Clean Budget! Sign The Petition.

As was predicted for weeks, the General Assembly was not be able to come to an agreement on a state budget prior to leaving Richmond on Saturday. Governor Terry McAuliffe and a majority of senators have made adopting a budget contingent on expanding Obamacare, putting Virginia's economic well-being at risk. Already, far-left organizations like moveon.org are spending millions of dollars to rhetorically assault legislators taking a stand against Obamacare. We need to counter the Left's efforts by doing all we can to stand with those lawmakers who are standing for us!

One simple way you can make your voice heard is by signing the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/.

Even many of those who support the expansion of Obamacare, such as the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, have urged the governor and senate to decouple the budget from that debate. Holding state government, local governments, schools and, more importantly, the taxpayers of Virginia hostage because they know they don't have the votes to expand the failure that is Obamacare places an already fragile economy in peril.

Sixty-four members of the House of Delegates and 17 members of the Virginia Senate rejected the expansion of Obamacare. They need to know that we stand with them! Please sign the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/ so that they know you want a clean budget with no expansion of Obamacare.

It's unfortunate, but we are seeing more and more of Washington, D.C. style politics coming to Virginia. If the Left can't win the debate with facts and reason — which aren't on its side — it resorts to politically motivated scare tactics and rhetorical bludgeoning. Those who understand the dire straits our Republic is in because of our ever growing $17 trillion debt are painted as "uncaring" and not in favor of health care for those who are disadvantaged! The truth is that Medicaid is the least effective way of providing care to those in need and Obamacare has prevented us from having a real debate over how to fix our health care system.

The first step is to sign the petition. We are currently planning other ways by which you'll be able to make your voice heard regarding this important issue. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days!

Will Session End On Time?

When the House of Delegates and Senate passed their respective budgets several days ago, the most glaring difference between the two, as anticipated, was the two chambers' approaches to Medicaid expansion. To wit, Obamacare in Virginia. The Senate included expanding Obamacare in its budget despite agreement last year with the House that the issue would be kept separate from the budget so it wouldn't become a stumbling block to passing a future budget. The agreement consisted of the creation of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, which has the authority to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning expansion. Its charter is to formulate necessary reforms for the abuse- and fraud-ridden program that state and federal governments must accept before Medicaid expansion gets anywhere near a floor vote for approval.

MIRC has yet, after almost a year's work, to draft its recommendations for reform. Instead, it continued its efforts for another year. Despite last year's agreement and MIRC's continuation, three Senate Republicans — John WatkinsWalter Stosch and Emmett Hanger — joined all 20 Democrats to passing the Senate budget with Medicaid expansion in it. The Senate and Governor Terry McAuliffe want to backtrack on last year's arrangement and want Obamacare expanded immediately.

To emphasize its position, House Republicans offered a budget floor amendment, modeled after the Senate expansion plan. It promptly went down 67-32. House Republicans have maintained that it would be irresponsible to expand Obamacare because future costs would be so great that it could cripple the state budget.

They also argue that the program is wrought with inefficiency and fraud and have proposed a first-ever outside audit before any expansion can take place. By example, former Governor Tim Kaine refused a VDOT audit for his four years and closed rest stops and other unnecessary cuts. After he left office, the audit House Republicans sought finally took place and revealed more than $1 billion in waste. There's no telling how much waste an audit of Medicaid would uncover since it is much larger than VDOT — about 21 percent of Virginia's budget and growing fast.

Most insiders in Richmond believe that the battle over Obamacare expansion will leave the state without a budget well into spring, if not longer. A new budget must be adopted by June 30 or state government could theoretically "shut down" July 1. Governor McAuliffe has stated that he intends to veto any budget sent to him that does not include Obamcare expansion and willingly shut down state government in order to get his way — not this session's much referenced, bipartisan-and-honor-your-agreements buzz phrase, "Virginia Way." That means police and fire departments without funding, teachers without pay and roads unpaved, among other disruptions.

A few days after the House passed its budget, reports surfaced that that Governor McAuliffe threatened vetoes of legislators' unrelated bills if they didn't go along with expansion,  something his office quickly denied. But delegates took to the floor later to recount the governor's bullying tactics and threats.

The House and Senate remain in conference in an attempt to settle their budget differences. But if conferees cannot come up with a solution before March 8, the General Assembly will have to adjourn without a budget — an unprecedented scenario that is growing more likely by the hour during this last week of session. Also, should a budget not pass, or a budget pass without the continuation of the MIRC, some believe that the governor will unilaterally expand Obamacare. That action could result in litigation, leaving it up to Attorney General Mark Herring to choose sides on the issue.

If it all sounds like Washington style politics and not "The Virginia Way," you're right. It's what many predicted during the campaign if Governor McAuliffe was elected. Be prepared to watch this battle go on well into the spring, and beyond.

Virginia, and "The Virginia Way," isn't for shutdowns. But it may come to that. 

New CBS/New York Times Poll: 61 Percent Favor Restrictions On Abortion Or Outright Ban

I'm not sure what's more devastating to the Left today: A new comprehensive poll from CBS and the New York Times that says only six percent think Obamacare is working or the 61 percent who say there should be tighter restrictions on abortion or an outright ban! Guy Benson on his TownHall.com Tipsheet breaks down all the issues and numbers here. Among the findings:

» President Barack Obama's approval rating is at a dismal 41 percent.

» Republicans hold a three point lead over Democrats in the generic Congressional ballot preference question, although seven percent more Democrats than Republicans were polled. All those polled were registered voters, whereas likely voters typically are more conservative.

» While 56 percent believe "same-sex marriage" should be legal, two-thirds believe each state should be allowed to determine their own definition. Bad news for so-called "marriage equality" advocates in Virginia.

» In an a result that's sure to depress the Left, a slight majority even believes that "Global Warming" either naturally occurs or doesn't exist at all. To the Elitist Left, that must only confirm what they think of us — that we're all a bunch of rubes and only they are intelligent enough to understand the "settled science."

As for abortion, the spring campaign of 40 Days For Life is about to kick off. We are big fans of this amazing, prayer-and-fasting campaign that has saved countless babies from death. It's this type of spiritual movement, setting the example for the country — indeed, the world, as the video below demonstrates — and probably a significant reason for the dramatic change in attitude on abortion reflected in the poll. It's not the first such poll, either. The tide has turned. Watch this video, then click here to read more about the exemplary work and prayer 40 Days For Life does, and sign up to join others in prayer in your city, county or town.

Whether it's former Planned Parenthood employees, post-abortive mothers, mothers who had a last second change of heart or any number of people from all walks of life, people put their faith into action with 40 Days For Life.

Oppose Obamacare Expansion In Virginia!

On Sunday, the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee released their respective budgets (see them here). Each chamber will debate the details of those budgets this week, with votes coming on Thursday. Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two budgets is just what was expected — the Senate budget includes an expansion of Obamacare — Medicaid expansion — and the House budget does not.

Please click here to contact your senator and delegate and urge them to reject any budget that includes expanding Obamacare in any way!

While supporters of expansion in the Senate claim their program isn't really expansion, the consequences of its proposal are the same. Couching it as a "private market" plan, advocates of the Senate budget hope to gain support. But regardless of the rhetoric, the plan expands Obamacare.

The glaring failures of Obamacare, including the millions who have lost health care coverage or are having to pay substantially higher premiums, the loss of work hours, the loss of jobs, the constant implementation delays because the law is unworkable, and the growing fears the federal government will not be able to hold up its financial commitment in future years, are just some of the reasons Virginia should avoid expanding the program.

Obama changes Obamacare

Beyond that, the arguments for expansion of Medicaid are disingenuous at best and dangerous at worst. For example, some argue that Virginia will "lose money to other states" if we don't expand. That is fundamentally false. Medicaid money is based on a federal formula. If we don't receive the money, it doesn't go to other states because other states just get what the formula prescribes for those states and no more.

Proponents also argue that hospitals will lose millions of dollars in funding for indigent care without expansion because the money the federal government has been sending to hospitals was to be cut off in exchange for Medicaid dollars. But that cut in funding has been delayed a year (big surprise), and most hospitals are running well in the black. It is up to the federal government, which botched this entire program, to fix the problem and not simply dump it on the states to figure out.

Even worse, perhaps, than the failures of the Obamacare rollout are the failures of Medicaid itself. Studies have shown that care within Medicaid sometimes leaves a lot to be desired (see Avik Roy at Forbes). It is a fundamentally flawed program that bleeds fraud and provides inadequate care for those who desperately need it. Nearly doubling the program's size in Virginia without massive changes is foolish.

Frankly, one of the main problems with the battle over Obamacare is that we no longer are having a serious conversation about how to fix our health care system, deliver high quality care to all Americans (especially those who are in need of assistance) and do so in a financially responsible way. We are fighting over failed programs and a failed law, instead of figuring out real, 21st century solutions to our health care needs.

For all of these reasons, we strongly oppose expanding Obamacare in Virginia, and urge you to contact your legislators to urge them to oppose a budget that includes Medicaid/Obamacare expansion. This battle likely will force the General Assembly into overtime, but for what's at stake, the battle is worth the time.

ACTION: Please click here to contact your Senator and Delegate and urge them to reject any budget that includes expanding Obamacare in any way!

Senator Colgan Dissed By Fellow Dems On Abortion Vote

On a 22-18 bipartisan vote today, the Senate of Virginia defeated a bill that would have removed language protecting taxpayers from funding abortion from Virginia's law regarding Obamacare. The bill, SB 618, was patroned by Senator Mamie Locke (D-2, Hampton). At the same time, the Senate passed SB 617, also patroned by Senator Locke, a bill that would repeal the sonogram requirement in Virginia's Informed Consent Law, on a 21-20 vote, with Lt. Governor Ralph Northam casting the tie-breaking vote. Tie votes aren't always that straightforward and this was anything but, with a controversy that may have ramifications well beyond even this session, ripping at the already stressed traditional Senate collegiality due to the unprecedented mid-session power shift. What followed left experienced General Assembly watchers saying they thought they "had seen everything until today."

After lengthy debate the bill initially went down to defeat 22-18, with Republican John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) voting with the pro-abortion side, while the pro-life side picked up three Democrats: Senators Charles Colgan and Phillip Puckett (D-29, Tazewell), both generally pro-life, as well as, surprisingly, Toddy Puller (D-36, Mount Vernon) — a reliable pro-abortion vote. 

The Puller vote shocked everyone and, accordingly, observers expected a motion for a reconsideration vote — a procedure that allows someone from the prevailing side to ask for another vote, done as a courtesy for someone who accidentally voted the opposite of his or her intention. It can only be done once per bill unless the chamber gives unanimous consent to suspend the rule. After a few more bills were voted on, Senator Puller made the motion. A one vote flip would preserve the defeat of the bill, so no one expected the vote board to flash what, in fact, shockingly became a 20-20 tie. 

As it turned out, Senator Colgan (D-29, Manassas) the senior member of the chamber, and its President Pro Tempore, accounted for the second flipped vote when he accidentally voted "yes," even though Republican Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) briefly rose prior to the vote to remind senators which bill they were reconsidering. Before long the Senate was in recess with each side plotting its floor tactics. Senator Watkins, being on the prevailing side now, made a motion for the suspension of the rules in order for Senator Colgan — who, by all accounts, was visibly distressed by his mistake and asked for another chance — to vote his conscious.

The vote to suspend the rules was 37-1, with Senator Locke providing the solitary vote necessary to prevent the third vote which would have sunk her bill for good. But make no mistake: The entire pro-abortion Democrat bloc was against the motion, allowing Senator Locke, as the bill's patron, to take the hit in order for the other pro-abortion Democrats to affect the appearance of bipartisanship.

Senator Norment took the floor again. Some anticipated that he would take advantage of Senate rules to kill remaining Democrat bills on the calendar. That is, as today was "Crossover Day" (when all bills originating in the Senate and House must be dealt with by those respective chambers) bills that had not been on the floor for three days needed unanimous consent to get their final up and down votes, or automatically die. He told Democrats that was not the GOP plan, but reminded them in no uncertain terms of the unprecedented nature of their actions. Some took that as an implied threat. We shall see what, if anything, GOP senators have in mind. Some suggested that he should have used that leverage to get a new vote.

TFF President Victoria Cobb issued this statement:

The evidence continues to mount showing that liberals in Richmond are interested only in power and bludgeoning even their own members to deny their consciences. Make no mistake — there were more members of the Virginia Senate today that opposed both abortion bills than supported them. It was only by mistake that one passed. Clearly, among Senate Democrat leaders, orthodoxy to the abortion industry takes precedent over the consciences even of their own members.

SB 617 would remove Virginia's requirement that a woman receive an ultrasound and be offered the opportunity to view it prior to an abortion. SB 618 would have removed the "opt-out" language allowed by Obamacare that protects taxpayers from subsidizing abortion in Virginia's federal health care exchange.

 

 

Judging By The Score

In sports, it's often said, "The game was closer than the final score indicates," or, "It wasn't as close as the score indicates." It reveals that the final score is not always indicative of how close, or not, a game may have been. Often, there’s more to the story. The most popular document created by The Family Foundation Action is our semi-annual General Assembly Report Card. In it you’ll find the "score" of every member of the General Assembly based on their legislative votes on Family Foundation priorities over a two-session period. The snap-shot of votes taken by their elected representatives gives citizens a good idea of where their legislators stand on key issues.

The Report Card also serves as a reminder to legislators that they can’t hide from the public. Every session our legislative team is asked over and over again by legislators, "Will this be a score card vote?" The message is: the Report Card matters. Legislators, at least those who are in more conservative districts, want to be able to prove their pro-family "credentials" with a good score. On the flip side, more liberal legislators often trumpet their low scores as proof of their "progressive" values. All in all, everybody wins!

Well, except that no document, or score, is a perfect reflection of the whole game. We make clear on the Report Card that it isn't meant to be used as a measure of one's personal faith. It is a great measure, as close as we've been able to come up with, of one's commitment to conservative, pro-family, pro-life principles, but it really is just part of the story. It's based only on votes and can't measure one's motives or reasoning behind a vote. That's for the legislators to explain to their constituents.

Some of the "100 percenters" on the Report Card are tried and true heroes of our values. They lead, they vocalize our values, they carry our legislation, and they work behind the scenes to advance our agenda.  Some "100 percenters," however, simply vote right when the time comes, but either offer no help or actually work behind the scenes in some instances to derail our agenda. At the same time, legislators who vote against our position in some situations may lead more than some "100 percenters." An example of that would be Delegate Todd Gilbert, who was our Legislator of the Year for 2013 with a score of 95 percent on the Report Card. But Delegate Gilbert leads on, fights for and carries our legislation.

And sometimes, there are issues that are just very complicated, though our position is very clear, that makes a vote more difficult to understand. For example, at last year's veto session, an amendment to a "Healthcare Exchange" bill relating to ObamaCare that prohibited the insurance companies in the exchange from offering abortion coverage was a high priority for The Family Foundation. The amendment passed and is now part of the law. But a couple of House of Delegates members, Barbara Comstock and Rick Morris, voted against the amendment. Was it a vote against life?  Well, no. They made it clear to us that they will not vote in favor of anything having to do with ObamaCare. It wasn't about the amendment; it was about the overall policy. Of course, we also made it clear that if we're going to have an exchange, we had the responsibility to make sure it included pro-life language. Also, last year, Delegate Bob Marshall voted incorrectly on a floor amendment granting special protections based on sexual behavior, but he did so out of an objection to how the House was operating on amendments, and not the underlying policy. Again, something that is impossible to explain in the Report Card.

The best answer to the problem is t make sure you know your legislators. The Report Card is the absolute best document in Virginia to get a picture of how dedicated to pro-family, pro-life values our legislators are during a two-year period. But if you see a vote that you don't understand, call them, or call us. Ask. Dig deeper and learn more. Stay involved during session so you know what’s happening and how your delegate and senator are voting. We don't want the Report Card to be the final authority, we want it to be a document that doesn't just educate, but motivates you to learn more and get more involved.

Don't just read the final score. Watch the whole game.

Here Come The Social Issues

Today, Senate Democrats took advantage of their new "majority" by changing Senate rules and committee make up, after having won two recent special elections and holding the lieutenant governor's tie breaking vote. The mid-session shake up is unprecedented. At one point, as the Democrats introduced a new rules package and erased the old ones, the President of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, said there were "no rules" in effect! Literal translation: The rules are what we say they are. Consequently, there is no question that after today's power grab, Senate Democrats will elevate their abortion and sex agenda to their top priority. Though some bills they introduced have already failed to pass committee, we expect, since no rules seem to apply anymore, for those bills to be revived and advanced. There is little doubt that "social issues" will dominate their agenda in the coming days, to the detriment of passing a state budget on time or addressing the dangerous health care issues faced by the implosion of Obamacare.

To ensure they'll be able to defeat any legislation that protects vulnerable human life or advances educational freedom or parental rights, Democrats added an extra abortion apologist to their takeover of the Education and Health committee, while also creating a three seat (9-6)  majority. But in addition to stacking committees out of proportion to their "majority," they did something not only unprecedented, but something beyond imagination.

In a too-late-by-three-years-response to being outsmarted in 2011, when they were an outright majority, and when pro-life advocates outmaneuvered them to add abortion center safety to legislation on a Senate bill amended by the House of Delegates, which forced a full floor vote on that bill, Senate Democrats today created a new rule where they can send bills they passed but amended by the House to the (new) Rules Committee. Normally, a Senate bill amended by the House goes back to the full Senate for a vote, and vice versa. Republicans argued that such a rule violates not only the spirit, but the letter of proper procedure, and indeed the rule of law. But ignoring the rule of law seems to be the normal operating procedure for some liberal politicians these days.

This afternoon's often tense debate over changing Senate rules in the middle of that chamber's four-year term did nothing but add fuel to an ever growing partisan fire here in Richmond. (What's happened to The Virginia Way that so many liberals, trying to appear centrist, have clamored for?)

Regardless of one's perspective on the validity of today's power change, one thing is perfectly clear: elections matter. Democrats in Richmond hold power in the state Senate by just 11 votes; the number by which their 20th member won his recent special election. If there is a better example of why voting for candidates who share our values no matter the circumstance, we don't know what it is. Democrats have power, not because they are winning more people to their views, but because people who share our views are not turning out on election day. In November, more than 70,000 fewer self-identified evangelicals voted in the governor's race than voted in 2009. That decline in turnout made the difference in a close election.

At The Family Foundation, we are committed to reversing that trend. That's why The Family Foundation Action, or political arm, has hired a full time political director to elevate our get-out-the-vote apparatus to levels we've never before reached. Today is a dark day for the Virginia Senate and for our values. But it is only one day.

Better days are coming.

#Distraction

On Saturday, Democrat Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and it didn't take long before he dove into the "social issues" liberals have always claimed are "distractions" from the "real issues," such as jobs and the economy. In his inaugural address, Governor McAuliffe said:

We must work . . . to ensure that someone can't lose a job simply because they are gay.

And to ensure that every woman has the right to make her own personal health care decisions. 

As expected, his first act of business had nothing to do with the economy, but was to issue Executive Order No. 1 that purports to provide special hiring protections in state government based on sexual behavior. Of course, what Governor McAuliffe failed to mention is that no evidence exists that discrimination based on "sexual orientation" is taking place. In fact, if discrimination in state hiring took place, you can be guaranteed that the ACLU, Equality Virginia and other groups would be parading that person around Virginia with the media hysterically telling everyone about it. Their silence on providing evidence is all we need to know about the needlessness of the executive order, while the evidence that elevating sexual behavior to special status is a threat to religious liberty is plentiful.

Of course, in his speech Governor McAuliffe wouldn't utter the word "abortion," instead using the liberal euphemism for taking the life of your unborn child, "health care decisions." The reality is that women in Virginia can have an abortion anytime they want and for just about any reason, and nothing interferes with their "personal health care decision" to do so. What is, interfering, however, is Obamacare, which has the full support of McAuliffe. Women in Virginia don't have the freedom to choose their own doctor. Women in Virginia don't have the freedom to choose their own insurance. But Governor McAuliffe seems perfectly content with the government taking those freedoms away. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Already, our policy team is working to defeat the nearly two dozen abortion or sex-related bills introduced by liberals in Richmond. While fewer Americans are working today than were when Jimmy Carter was president, secular liberals are obsessed with abortion and sex. Perhaps they think the "war on women" narrative will provide cover for them while the economy continues to sink? And you needn't worry about the media exposing them. At a Capitol Square press conference yesterday to unveil some of the 20-odd bills on the Democrats'  social issue agenda (see our reaction, here), Delegate Kay Kory (D-38, Falls Church) pleaded with reporters to "be there" when these bills are heard, even if the meetings are late at night. These legislators want the media there because they know the coverage given often is favorable to their agenda.

Last Thursday, we released some of our legislative agenda to the media. You can read our news release here. We look forward to advocating for these and other proposals in the coming weeks. Regardless of who sits in the Executive Mansion, we will work as hard as possible to advance and protect the principles and values we share.

Restitution For Eugenics Victims Tops TFF's Legislative Agenda

The Family Foundation of Virginia today released the highlights of its 2014 legislative agenda, highlighted by joining a bipartisan effort by Delegates Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) and Patrick Hope (D-47, Arlington County) to provide restitution to victims of Virginia's eugenics policy. Other priority legislation The Family Foundation supports includes bills protecting religious liberty, allowing homeschool student sports participation ("Tebow bill") at public schools, budget amendments to ban state funding of Planned Parenthood and to align Virginia with the federal Hyde Amendment, and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act. It will oppose Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, adding sexual orientation to Virginia's non-discrimination laws, the expansion of gambling, tax increases, attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, and the removal of religious exemptions for home schooling. Here is The Family Foundation's official statement on its legislative agenda:

"The 2014 General Assembly will be very focused on jobs, the economy, the budget, mental health reform and rightly so, but our elected officials are capable of handling both economic and social issues," said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation. "The General Assembly spends the overwhelming majority of its time on non-social issues but those don’t merit quite the attention. Our goal is to be the voice of Virginians who care about values issues and recognize that we cannot have a strong, stable economy until we renew our moral standards."

A top priority of The Family Foundation is legislation ensuring religious liberty and free speech protections for public school students at graduations and other public ceremonies. Recent incidents of speech censorship at public school graduations around the country offer evidence that religious speech is being targeted. Legislation has been introduced that is modeled after existing state law in Texas and Mississippi, neither of which have been challenged in the courts. The legislation tracks U.S. Supreme Court decision language. 

"Public school students should not be targeted for discrimination simply because their speech reflects or includes their religious beliefs,” said Cobb. "The Constitution is clear and should be applied to students when they are speaking at public school events. It is a disgrace that American students are censored by government officials from simply mentioning their faith at a graduation ceremony, and that shouldn't happen in the birthplace of religious freedom."

Another priority will be restitution for victims of eugenics. First introduced last year, this legislation would provide a small financial payment to those whom the state physically denied the ability to have children. Eugenics was practiced in Virginia for nearly two decades, resulting in an estimated 8,500 victims.

"Virginia has apologized for eugenics, but that’s little comfort to those few surviving victims who had their ability to have children taken away from them by an atrocious government act. The idea that the government can deem some worthy of life and others not should be revolting to every American. And while this small amount of money cannot begin to undo the wrong, it is one way to hold a government accountable for its actions and, hopefully, to prevent anything like this from happening again."

The Family Foundation also will again support legislation that allows homeschool students to try out for sports at the public school they would otherwise attend. Commonly referred to as the "Tebow Bill," this simple policy of fairness to families who pay taxes in support of local public schools would affect a very small number of Virginia home school athletes. Numerous other states have adopted similar policies with no negative affect on athletic programs or public schooling.

The pro-family organization will also oppose the expansion of so-called Obamacare through Medicaid. Despite promises by the federal government to pay ninety percent of the costs in future years, it is clear by the unfulfilled assurances that people would be able to keep their own insurance and doctors and that there is serious risk to future state budgets by expanding.

"There is no question that we need to figure out new and compassionate ways to deliver health care to the truly needy in Virginia," said Cobb. "But every day Virginians are seeing the abject failure of Obamacare to fix the problems that we face. We need a new national dialogue on a real fix for our health care system that provides actual care and assistance and doesn't bankrupt our economy."

"Neither political party in Virginia has a mandate on anything, which leaves all ideas up for debate, discussion and compromise," said Cobb. "Values-driven Virginians expect their elected officials to represent them and their principles, and we’ll be there to make sure they do.”

 

Who Says Mark Warner Can't Be Defeated?

I know, I know. We've just had one election and one of those campaigns wasn't settled until yesterday. You don't want to hear about another. Not with Christmas days away. It's time to just peace out for a while. But in Virginia, we don't have elections. We live them. That's what happens in a commonwealth with an odd-year/even-year, state/federal campaign calendar, and if there is one thing more certain than an election every year in Virginia it's that Mark Warner can't be beat. Or so the pundits and media would have us believe. After all, the Democrats just swept three statewide offices and now hold all five. Barack Obama won the Old Dominion twice. Why even bother? The Left is unstoppable and Mark Warner is a more powerful than a Roman god.

But saying so doesn't make it so. After all, a picture is worth 1,000 words — and perhaps 1,000,000 votes:

Image

With Obamacare malfunctioning and Obama's ratings plummeting, Senator Mark Warner's deciding vote for the socialization of the health insurance industry could well prove the emperor has no clothes.

This Enrollee Had A Particularly Difficult Time With The Obamacare Website

We know enrolling in Obamacare can be extraordinarily time consuming, what with its web site crashing, burning, restarting, and crashing and burning (through 640 million of our tax dollars) all over again. But enough is enough! Clearly, time was not on this person's side. He — and we know it was a he because the Left does not have a "war on women" — experienced a far too long delay, didn't get the customer support so desperately needed, and should've taken a break or two to eat and sleep. The good news is that he once he finally gets through, he will get to keep his current plan if he likes it. Oh, wait . . .  

Another unintended consequence of Obamacare. Hopefully, your experience will be much better (though I doubt it). (H/T to Dr. Gene Lingerfelt of faithchristiancenter.com via twitter.)

Embedded image permalink

The law of unintended consequences: Obamacare's first victim. We thought Obamacare was supposed to provide healthcare. 

Cuccinelli Working Hard, T-Mac Hardly Working

One of the many bipartisan knocks on Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe — aside from his many scandals — is that being a non-Virginian, he doesn't know Virginia, its traditions, its history or how its government works. Apparently, he doesn't know what Virginians expect from candidates, either. Despite the closing in the polls, McAuliffe has cooled off his campaign schedule — no media interviews, a canceled press conference, a skipped event with college students and no campaign events the last few days except for his Obamacare celebration rally with President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Republican Ken Cuccinelli has round-the-clock events up to election day on Tuesday with national conservative stars such as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, capped by a Monday night rally with former Congressman from Texas and libertarian Republican icon Ron Paul, the former presidential candidate at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Here's Ben Pershing from The Washington Post:

Ken Cuccinelli II is planning a frenetic schedule with a handful of big-name Republican surrogates as the race for Virginia governor draws to a close. Terry McAuliffe, by contrast, is mostly staying out of sight aside from a pair of high-profile events.

The differing strategies illustrate the pecking order as the hard-fought contest nears its end. Cuccinelli (R) is consistently trailing in the polls and can’t afford much of an advertising presence on the airwaves, so he’s counting on word-of-mouth and media coverage from live appearances to stay afloat.

McAuliffe (D) is nursing a lead and has the cash to keep up a steady drumbeat of ads, giving him little incentive to expose himself to the press more than necessary. Cuccinelli is planning to do multiple daily events around the state from Friday through Tuesday. His itinerary includes events Saturday in Spotsylvania and Prince William counties with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and appearances in Warrenton and Culpeper Monday with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). And former representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.) will join Cuccinelli in Richmond on Monday evening.

McAuliffe’s campaign has said that he will appear at a rally with President Obama on Sunday afternoon at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, and he will join forces with Vice President Biden on Monday morning in Annandale to kick off a day of canvassing.

McAuliffe has announced no public events for Thursday, Friday or Saturday. His campaign has not responded to requests for comment about his schedule.

On Wednesday, McAuliffe wrapped up a four-day campaign swing with former president Bill Clinton, but he did not take questions from the media at those appearances. McAuliffe has done a handful of individual interviews, but aside from a brief gaggle following last Thursday’s debate in Blacksburg, he has done no other media availabilities in the past three weeks.

Is McAuliffe taking Virginians for granted? Has he started measuring the Governor's Mansion's drapes and called the moving trucks? Virginians don't appreciate that, something McAuliffe would know if he knew Virginia.

 

Special Message From Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor and Fox News Channel's Mike Huckabee has a special message that he recorded for Virginia's values voters concerning the importance of voting in this year's gubernatorial election this coming Tuesday, November 5. Virginians will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the entire House of Delegates. There is much at stake (see this short video), including maintaining Virginia's new abortion center safety standards, religious freedom to allow church affiliated adoption agencies to place babies with married couples who adhere to their religious beliefs, the hard won school choice law, the defense of Virginia's Marriage Amendment, defunding Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funding of abortion, the expansion of Medicaid and Obamacare in the Commonwealth — not to mention job creation, responsible tax and budget policies — and so much more. Please take one minute to hear Governor Huckabee and make plans to vote on November 5, or by absentee before then if necessary, and be sure to share this and encourage others to vote, too.

[audio mp3="http://familyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Family-Foundation-of-VA-.mp3"][/audio]

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Photo: Senator Ted Cruz Addresses 1,100-Plus Conservatives At TFF Gala

A sincere thank you to all who attended, sponsored, supported and volunteered at our 2013 Annual Gala. Here's a small sampling of what Saturday night was like. More to come.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas addresses more than 1,100 conservative, values voting Virginians Saturday night during The Family Foundation of Virginia Annual Gala at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. In his talk, which was covered by national and statewide media, he outlined the dangers of Obamacare and why it is not a time for conservatives to despair, but rather why it's an opportunity to rally.

Senator Compassionless

Liberals think they have a monopoly on compassion. They may be right . . . if one defines compassion by how much of other people's money you spend. But even that was called into question today by the far left Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who exposed the Left's hypocrisy by refusing to pass bills sent to it by the House of Representatives to keep specific federal agencies open during this so-called government. By the way, the Senate majority party also refused to go to a conference committee with the House on any number of spending bills the House has passed to keep the government open, as if it's an insult and not the normal legislative process, demanding the House pass exactly what Senator Reid wants — or it will do nothing at all. So, who exactly is responsible for the shutdown? Conference committees happen every day in state legislatures and used to be a common occurrence in Washington. At the General Assembly they occur with great frequency at the end of session, under tense deadlines, and bills of all kinds get passed — including budgets. (Yet, some running for statewide office this year want to bring the Washington model to Richmond.)

Earlier today, in a random act of journalism, Dana Bash of CNN asked Senator Reid why not pass a House spending bill to fund the National Institute of Health to help children with cancer if he was so concerned about healthcare (i.e., Obamacare). Senator Reid's comments were chilling, the words of ruling parties in despotic countries. See the video below, especially toward the end:

Senator Reid on helping children with cancer during the shutdown: "Why would we want to do that?"

Apparently, then, it's not about healthcare. It's about control — the right of the government to control us and our healthcare decisions, while it exempts itself from Obamacare. Yet, how many times do we hear liberals say, about any issue, "If it can save just one life"?

It's not hypothetical, either. Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius ruled (there's that word again) under her Obamacare powers, that a young girl could not receive a lung transplant. (What in the world is a cabinet secretary doing meddling in an individual medical case?) Fortunately, the girl's parents went legal on the Death Czar and a federal judge rebuked her order prohibiting the procedure.

In addition to Senator Reid's callous, cold determination to deny children cancer treatment, he did another demeaning thing at his news conference. For someone so eager to accuse his political opponents of waging a "war on women," notice his patronizing, belittling verbal joust at Ms. Bash toward the end of the video. It reminded me of this classic remark made four years ago, which also demeaned a woman reporter, by another verbally bumbling liberal politician at a news conference, which made the news as well.

Tell us what you really think: Liberal pols revealing their hypocrisy on healthcare and women.

Pelosi Redefines Meaning Of Independence Day: Celebrate Obamacare

A couple of years ago a study showed that liberals disdained Independence Day celebrations — or at least decidedly less likely to attend or participate in them. So, for those disgruntled liberals who feel ashamed of American excellence and exceptionalism, and our founding on the principles of liberty and freedom at the expense of large, controlling government, you now have your own reason to celebrate July 4th:

Obamacare.

No joke. (See Warner Todd Huston at WizBangBlog.com.) The idea comes from no less a Democrat icon than Nancy "We need to pass the bill before we know what's in it" Pelosi. At a recent media pep rally briefing, she said that Americans should celebrate "health independence" this Thursday beeeeeeeecaaaaaaaaaause:

Pretty soon we'll all be leaving for the Fourth of July recess. Next week, when we celebrate Independence Day we’ll also be observing health independence.

This week marks one year since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. It captures the spirit of our Founders. Uh, the spirit they wrote in the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness. The Affordable Care Act offers just that — a healthier life and the liberty to pursue a person’s happiness to be free of constraint, be job-locked, because they’re policy-locked and so if you wanted to be a cameraman, a writer, you want to be self employed, if you want to be, start a business, if you want to change jobs, whatever it is you want to do you are free, you have the liberty to do.

So, we've had Social Security, Medicare, and now health independence, and that’s something our members will take home to celebrate over this Independence Day.

Seriously, why do people take her seriously? That is the transcript of her opening statement (see video here, at C-SPAN.org). At least she's consistent. A few years ago, she also said Obamacare was essential for a growing economy and entrepreneurialism — that, for example, people who had always wanted to be a singer, but couldn't quit their jobs because they'd then have to pay for their own health insurance, could now pursue their dreams because the government would take care of their health needs.

The British played the nursery tune The World Turned Upside Down at the surrender at Yorktown. Pelosi's version of history more contorted: George Washington and his army of farmer, merchant and yeoman patriots fighting for free government handouts. Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare — exactly what Locke and Jefferson meant by "Life, Liberty and Property/Pursuit of happiness."

Medicaid Expansion In Virginia: Impact And Cost To Taxpayers

Why do we, as conservatives, oppose Medicaid expansion in Virginia (speaking generally, not for any TFF position)? This chart from Drew Gonshorowski at the Heritage Foundation's Foundry Blog (via John Taylor of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy) demonstrates why, in very stark terms. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, in a desperate attempt to get governors to adopt the Obamacare state health insurance exchanges, has peddled the fallacy of "free money" (direct funding from the federal government) for Medicaid in the short term (thus the net savings through 2016). In essence, it's a bribe with taxpayer money at the cost of massive debt her administration won't have to pay back. After that, though, the states face the obligations of the expanded government-run health program on their own, which sticks them with unconscionable costs and burdens for years to come — not to mention the crowding out of traditional services state and local governments provide, such as police, fire, rescue, transportation and education. get-attachment-4

 

There's no such thing as free money. There is something called unsustainable debt. But try telling that to proponents of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion.

Welcome To Our (The Real) World, Big Labor: Even Unions Threaten Dems Over Obamacare!

You know a policy is horrible when even your staunchest ally threatens a revolt over it, but that's the case now with some major labor unions and Democrats over Obamacare. Welcome to our world — that is to say, the Real Word — Mr. Labor Union Boss. As it turns out, there are several problems with Obamacare union leaders are just now realizing, despite warnings for years. Nothing like an actual hit in the wallet — not liberal Utopian theory — to gobsmack you in the head and kick you in the rear simultaneously. First, union leaders are seeing the real possibility of up to 20 million of their members losing their employer provided health insurance plans.

Second, smaller companies, that partner with unions to provide health insurance already more expensive than traditional employer-only provided insurance, are seeing their premiums balloon because of Obamacare mandates on insurance policies. Unions fear these plans will have to be dropped and force employees into the infamous state exchanges. However, while Obamacare provides for subsidies to some to buy into a plan offered through an exchange, it does not provide such subsidies for union members. (In a case of be care for which you ask, maybe the unions should've read the bill. In a delightful irony, an institution of the left now complains of "unintended consequences.")

The third union concern is, ironically, survival. If members can access health insurance without the union, then why join? It seems the Obama administration has a knack for angering its friends as well as its "enemies."

As reported by the AP via Breitbart.com:

Some labor unions that enthusiastically backed President Barack Obama's health care overhaul are now frustrated and angry, fearful that it will jeopardize benefits for millions of their members.

Union leaders warn that unless the problem is fixed, there could be consequences for Democrats facing re-election next year.

"It makes an untruth out of what the president said — that if you like your insurance, you could keep it," said Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. "That is not going to be true for millions of workers now." ...

But Obama's Affordable Care Act has added to that cost — for the unions' and other plans — by requiring health plans to cover dependents up to age 26, eliminate annual or lifetime coverage limits and extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

"We're concerned that employers will be increasingly tempted to drop coverage through our plans and let our members fend for themselves on the health exchanges," said David Treanor, director of health care initiatives at the Operating Engineers union.

Workers seeking coverage in the state-based marketplaces, known as exchanges, can qualify for subsidies, determined by a sliding scale based on income. By contrast, the new law does not allow workers in the union plans to receive similar subsidies.

Bob Laszewski, a health care industry consultant, said the real fear among unions is that "a lot of these labor contracts are very expensive, and now employers are going to have an alternative to very expensive labor health benefits."

"If the workers can get benefits that are as good through Obamacare in the exchanges, then why do you need the union?" Laszewski said. "In my mind, what the unions are fearing is that workers for the first time can get very good health benefits for a subsidized cost someplace other than the employer."

Now, the chief of the firefighters union says "anxiety" over the law has transformed into "anger" that could spill into the 2014 elections. The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers last month called for "repeal or complete reform" of Obamacare.

The only thing worse than liberalism is incompetent liberalism. In its rush to ram through Obamacare, congressional liberals and the president didn't even look after their friends. No doubt, now, they will look to a fix that they know will be blocked by congressional conservatives and use that for political purposes to placate their union allies. Here's hoping (but not expecting) the unions, fooled once, won't get fooled again.

The Pols Are Out And So Are Their Grades: American Conservative Union Releases Virginia General Assembly Scorecard

The General Assembly wrapped up its 2013 business, officially, April 3, at the conclusion of the "Veto" session. Since then, a flurry of scorecards have been released by several organizations, including the Family Foundation's late last week. Usually released throughout the year to coincide with fundraising galas, elections or other events, many organizations this year dropped their ratings in advance of the Republican Convention this weekend and the June Democrat primary. Today, the American Conservative Union released its third annual Virginia General Assembly Scorecard (click here for complete results). The ACU, founded in 1964 by a coalition of prominent national conservative organizations, is known for its annual Congressional Scorecard, considered the "gold standard" of Congressional ratings. In 2011, it decided to take that success to the state level, with a goal of annual rating all members in each of the 50 state legislatures. That year, it graded five, Virginia being the first of those (this  year it will score 20). Consequently, the General Assembly is the first to be scored three times — more firsts for the Old Dominion.

The ACU Scorecard offers three awards: Defender of Liberty Award, for those who score 100 percent; the ACU Conservative Award for those who score above 80 percent, and the not-so-coveted True Liberal of the Commonwealth Award for those who get a zero — and there are a few of those. However, the number of members in both chambers who scored 80 or higher dropped precipitously, with some who have reputations as conservative stalwarts not even even getting to 80 percent.

The reason? Not only were there several immensely important and substantive votes this year on significant policies with massive ramifications, they were voted on multiple times. For instance, the tax increase bill (HB 2313) was voted on three times (scored twice). An ironic twist is that the House budget, which normally rates as a support because of its pretty tight spending parameters and policy language, was opposed by the ACU when it came out of conference committee with the Senate, specifically because the rejection of the Medicaid expansion was stripped out. That also got a second vote because of a gubernatorial amendment. The Obamacare health insurance exchange also made the list and several conservatives got nicked on that, as well.

The ACU Virginia Scorecard is not only the most comprehensive one of its nature in Virginia — complied annually, with more than 20 floor votes on everything from spending, taxes, education reform, securing voting rights, second amendment rights, religious liberty, right to work, life and marriage, and all else that make up the conservative agenda, it's one the most comprehensive state scorecard in the country, as many legislatures, especially part-time ones, rarely let so many significant votes get to the floor. The ACU only scores floor votes and does not score unanimous or immensely lopsided votes, nor partisan votes, with the exception of significant policy shifting bills.

In a statement released today by the ACU, its Chairman Al Cardenas, said:

On behalf of the American Conservative Union, I am pleased to announce the winners of our 2013 State Legislative Ratings for members of the Virginia General Assembly. For 40 years ACU has set the gold standard for Congressional ratings, and we are now able to offer that same level of transparent information to the voters of Old Dominion so they can hold their elected officials accountable at the state level as well. In our third year rating the Commonwealth, we applaud conservatives in the Virginia General Assembly who continue to fight against higher taxes, against Obamacare and for the rights of the unborn.

The ACU's philosophy in its scorecard system is to track . . .

a wide range of issues before state legislatures to determine which issues and votes serve as a clear litmus test separating those representatives who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles — constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values. The votes selected for our Virginia Legislative Ratings were chosen to create a clear ideological distinction among those casting them.

The Defenders of Liberty Award winners are:

Delegates Rob Bell, Ben Cline, Scott Garrett, Todd Gilbert (TFF Legislator of the Year Award winner), and Margaret Ransone; and Senators Tom Garrett, Jr., Mark Obenshain and Ralph Smith.

ACU Conservative Award winners are Delegates Richard Anderson, Richard Bell, Kathy Byron, Mark Cole, Barbara Comstock, John Cox, Mark Dudenhefer, Matt Fariss, Peter Farrell, Greg Habeeb, Chris Head, Tim Hugo, Sal Iaquinto, Steve Landes, Jim LeMunyon, Scott Lingamfelter, Bob Marshall, Jimmie Massie, Jackson Miller, Randy Minchew, Israel O’Quinn, Brenda Pogge, David Ramadan, Roxann Robinson, Nick Rush, Beverly Sherwood, Lee Ware, Jr., Michael Webert, Tony Wilt, and Tommy Wright, Jr.; and Senators Richard Black, Steve Newman, Richard Stuart, Bryce Reeves, Steve Martin, Bill Stanley, Jr., and Ryan McDougle.

The highest scoring Democrats were Delegates Johnny Joannou and Joe Joe Johnson at 73 and 64 percent, respectively. The both  topped some Republicans, such as Delegate Chris Jones, who scored only 60 percent. Delegate Jones wasn't alone. Speaker Bill Howell only managed to match Delegate Joannou. Senate Republicans saw similar slippages. For example, Senators Jeff McWaters and Frank Ruff, who had scored at least 80 in the first two scorecards, dropped to the low 60s. Majority Leader Tommy Norment and Senator Harry Blevins, who retired recently in mid-term, scored 60 and 57 percent, respectively. Senator John Watkins rated a dismal 48 percent.

Last year, more than 70 Republicans from both chambers scored 80 percent or higher. This year, only 45 did.

The members who earned the True Liberal of Old Dominion Awards are Delegates Delores McQuinn and Roslyn Tyler; and Senators Kenneth Alexander, Janet Howell and Linda Puller.

Miraculous Success: Life And Conscience Protected

It was nothing short of a miracle yesterday afternoon: The General Assembly passed Governor Bob McDonnell's pro-life amendment to HB 1900. The amendment prohibits health insurance plans that are part of federal health insurance exchanges required by Obamacare from covering abortion services except in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. With the passage of this amendment, pro-life Virginians will no longer be required to violate their consciences and fund the unethical destruction of human life. To put it precisely, as one legislator who voted for the amendment said:

I truly believe that this amendment will save more lives than perhaps anything we've ever done.

The amendment's passage was a tale more convoluted than the typical legislative labyrynth, complete with procedural moves unfamiliar to most, dramatic back room conversations and mistakes that turned into miracles. Suffice it to say, God was at work — mightily. He alone deserves the credit for this success. We'll tell the complete and detailed insider story in a later post.

Regardless of how legislators may feel about Obamacare health insurance exchanges, the vote on this amendment was solely about the taxpayer funding of abortion. Many who voted for this amendment oppose the concept of exchanges overall. Please note when checking how your legislator voted, that a vote for this pro-life amendment cannot be considered a vote against health care freedom. Some type of exchange must be created, by law, so this was to make the best of a bad situation.

Although many deserve thanks for this important victory, we would like to specifically thank Governor McDonnell for introducing the amendment, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling for ruling the amendment germane (click links for contact information), the 20 senators and 55 delegates who voted for the amendment (click links for names), national pro-life organizations for their assistance, such as the Susan B. Anthony List, and local pro-life groups — especially the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Virginia Society for Human Life, and the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists — for joining us in our advocacy on this amendment at Mr. Jefferson's capitol yesterday.

Conscience and life were protected today. Please thank God first, but secondly those above who deserve our gratitude for their principled stand for life. The complete details and inside story tomorrow.