heritage foundation

TFF President Cobb Honored With Prestigious Weyrich Award

Last night, Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb won the prestigious Paul Weyrich Faith Community Leader of the Year Award at the annual Weyrich Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. The Weyrich Awards are presented annually in honor of the late conservative leader Paul Weyrich, who served as the first president of the Heritage Foundation and who later founded the American Legislative Exchange Council. Here is the news release we issued last night:

 Cobb Honored With Prestigious Weyrich Award

RICHMOND – Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb received the "Faith Community Leader of the Year Award" at the Weyrich Awards Dinner last night in Washington, D.C. The Weyrich Awards are presented annually in honor of conservative leader Paul Weyrich, who served as the first president of the Heritage Foundation and who later founded the American Legislative Exchange Council.

During her brief acceptance remarks Cobb said:

"I’m extremely honored to have been nominated and even more so to accept this award. It is a testament to the work of everyone at The Family Foundation, from the board of directors to my staff, and it's for all of us that I am so privileged to be recognized by such a distinguished group. Any success we have had is also the result of Almighty Providence. Our team does what we do and often we discover God shows up and does the rest.

"I know that those conservative icons that came before us, like Paul Weyrich, faced far more difficult odds and major challenges than we do today, but their faithfulness to our principles and their strategies ushered in an era of conservatism that brought great prosperity and freedom to our nation. Our challenge is to remain as faithful, as vigilant, and as strategic as they were."

The Weyrich Awards are presented annually to recognize "those who have made a major contribution to advancing the cause of liberty through organizations and media and whose work reflects beliefs, principles and convictions that are harmonious with Paul’s own values."

The Family Foundation of Virginia is a non-profit organization whose mission is to apply faith and founding principles to politics and culture. The Family Foundation researches the issues being debated in Richmond and provides analysis and ideas to both citizens and elected officials. The Family Foundation is Virginia's oldest and largest pro-family public policy organization.


TFF President Victoria Cobb Is Finalist For Weyrich Award

TFF President Victoria Cobb is a finalist for the prestigious Weyrich Award. The following release was issued this morning:

 Cobb Finalist for Weyrich Award

RICHMOND – Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia, has been named a finalist for the Weyrich Awards in the category of "Faith Community Leader of the Year." The award winners will be announced at a dinner this Wednesday, March 5, in Washington, D.C.

The Weyrich Awards are presented annually in honor of conservative leader Paul Weyrich, who served as the first president of the Heritage Foundation and who later founded the American Legislative Exchange Council. Weyrich passed away in 2008.

The Weyrich Awards are presented to recognize "those who have made a major contribution to advancing the cause of liberty through organizations and media and whose work reflects beliefs, principles and convictions that are harmonious with Paul’s own values."

Big Labor, Big Corporations, CONGRESS: Obamacare Exemptions For Everyone But US! Five Ways Obamacare Could Impact You Immediately

The ticking time bomb known as Obamacare — complete with exploding federal deficits, obliterated state budgets and collateral damage to jobs, businesses, the economy in general and, oh yeah, the thing it was supposed to fix, your health coverage — is nigh. Perhaps no one has brought more attention to the peril than U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, our 2013 Gala Speaker on October 5 (see information about for tickets). As the clock counts down to its October implementation, and Congressional conservatives such as Senator Cruz and several stalwarts in the House of Representatives press on now that the Senate returned the government funding bill back to the House without the Obamacare defunding language — not to mention the impending decision Virginia must make as to whether to expand Medicaid under Obamacare — its impact will create some very real negative changes. Kelsey Harris at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry Blog lists five:

1. Will young adults, whose premiums will skyrocket, ever go to a doctor if it's cheaper to pay the tax than to buy insurance?

The absolute insanity of this never ceases to amaze me: Make it so expensive for young people to buy insurance, but then offer them a taxpayer subsidy to enter the Obamacare exchange. This saves money how? It gets even more expensive if a person who is driven out of his or her insurance seeks medical attention at an emergency room, the exact scenario the leftist authors of the law say they're trying to prevent.

2. When will people have time to find a new doctor?

Despite promises by the president, people will not be able to keep their doctors.

3. Premiums for young families will rise dramatically.

Rising costs will make it more difficult to buy necessary supplies for children.

4. Lost jobs or reduced hours and revoked coverage.

Because of the costs to employers, many companies are reducing full-time jobs to part-time jobs or laying off people because enormous and burdensome regulations on businesses that employ a certain threshold of full-time workers. Additionally, it has forced many to cease offering insurance plans that cover spouses. Since, even today, that means cutting off the wife form the insurance plan, one might conclude that this is a real War on Women.

5.  Another striker against women, especially single moms.

Since moms typically have custody of children in broken marriages, who will provide health insurance for the children when and if the mom is laid off?

Don't believe the lost jobs argument? Think it's hyperbole and a scare tactic? You don't have to wait until Obamacare is in full force. It's been happening for sometime now, as Rusty Weiss documents here at the FreedomWorks Blog. Here's a list of only some companies that have, or will lay off employees or eliminate jobs:

1. Welch Allyn: 275 employees this year and planned on dropping roughly 10 percent of its workforce over the next three years.

2. Orlando Health: 400 jobs.

3. Stryker: 1,000 jobs.

4. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: 950 jobs.

5. Boston Scientific: Between 1,200 and 1,400 jobs in 2011; up to 1,000 employees this year.

6. Smith & Nephew: 100 employees.

7. A Blue Cross/Blue Shield: 100 employees.

8. Medtronic: 1,000 jobs by the end of the fourth quarter.

9. Reading Hospital: 391 jobs.

10. Abbott Laboratories: 1,900 jobs.

All cited specific new regulations and/or new taxes in Obamacare that have made it untenable for them to maintain their present staffing levels. In the meantime, big corporations, big labor and  Congress all have received Obamacare exemptions granted by . . . Congress itself and President Obama! Everyone but the average American citizen. In a few short days we'll know it and feel it for sure.


Everyone but us! (H/T FreedomWorks via Doc Thompson)

A Little About U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Our 2013 Gala Speaker

Now that we've announced our 2013 Annual Gala keynote speaker, here's what people are saying and writing about him:

(He is) someone conservatives can count on to fight for the principles of freedom. ...

- Former Senator Jim DeMint, President of Heritage Foundation

A great Reaganite hope

- National Review

But those are from conservatives. Based on this quote from the Mainstream Media, we know he's our kind of guy:

(He) is too extreme, too uncompromising and too unlikable to mount a national following.

- USA Today

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz burst onto the national stage by overcoming great odds and winning the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary in Texas — first, overcoming a multi-millionaire, self-financed "moderate" to finish second, then defeating the hand-picked establishment choice in the run-off, and finally winning the general election handily against a Democrat who tired to portray him as "extreme."

Taking that path, you wouldn't think he's an ordinary freshman senator. He's not. He quickly become a target of the media and secular left for his principled stands and for speaking out, not only against members of the opposition party and leadership, but against members of his own party and its leadership.

A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, he served as Solicitor General of Texas, fighting for and defending constitutional principles in court, and earning a name for himself as a passionate and articulate fighter for our liberties. He is the son of a Cuban immigrant who fought in the revolution, was imprisoned and tortured, then came to the U.S. with next to nothing. With a family history and experience with the evils of an absolute government, Senator Cruz understands the value of liberty and the principles of faith that make it possible.

Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas stands on principle, no matter if it upsets

Democrats or Republicans, the Senate leadership or all of the above.

In addition to Senator Cruz' keynote speech, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will make special remarks. So we hope you are able to join us at our Annual Gala Saturday, October 5, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Dinner starts at 6:45. A special reception for sponsors starts 5:45. For more information, including tickets, sponsorships, overnight accommodations and more, click here.

So that's a little about Senator Ted Cruz — for now. But we will continue to provide updates on the Gala, reveal our emcee and entertainment, and share more highlights from Senator Cruz' outstanding career. Be sure to look for these updates here and our Facebook and Twitter platforms.

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.

You Know You Live In A Battleground State If . . .

It almost sounds like a joke: You know you live in a battleground state if . . .  In this case, the punch line is: There's a national bus tour making a stop in your neighborhood.

Already this year rolling through the Old Dominion this year, to name a few, have been the: Women Speak Out: Abortion Is Not Health Care Bus Tour (which featured our 2012 Day at the Capitol keynote speaker, Jill Stanek); Americans for Prosperity's Obama's Failing Agenda Bus Tour; Concerned Women of America's She Votes Bus Tour; and the Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote Bus Tour, co-sponsored by The Heritage Foundation and FRC Action, which is informing the public on the relationship between strong traditional family values and economic well-being and security (click the links for in-depth information on the two topics).

The Family Foundation has participated in some of the stops on a couple of these tours. The "Values Bus Tour" may sound familiar to you. This past summer, in an earlier leg of its travels through Virginia, it's where this happened. It's worth a view. Now, it's making another run through the commonwealth, just as the campaign goes all out the final 10 days.

With only 30 million values voters out 60 million who could be registered to vote, there is still much work to be done in mobilizing Christians to actively participate in faithful citizenship. We need strong families and a strong economy to lead the way to restoring prosperity.specially when you consider:

» Each of us owes more than a $200,000 share of the national debt;

» Unemployment is at a chronically high rate of about 8 percent (and much higher when considering those who are underemployed or withdrawn from the workforce; and

» Our debt at $16 trillion and annual budget deficits projected to top $1 trillion for years to come.

If you see this bus, you know you're in a battleground or swing state!

So The Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council continue their road trip in order to start a dialogue on today's critical issues with citizens and leaders. So, if you see the bus pictured above, you know you're in an important electoral state. Take advantage of the opportunity to drop by a tour stop near you to hear great speakers,ask questions, learn how to get involved and make a difference, and pick up some excellent materials for free. The events feature community events and local and nationally known speakers. Learn the critical issues and the action steps to make a difference. The tour also has special web page resources: Click here to learn about restoring the American Dream and click here to learn how to get involved and take action at the grassroots level.

Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote 2012 National Tour in Virginia

Friday, October 26 8:00-9:00 a.m.

Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote Campus Rally

Featuring Genevieve Wood of The Heritage Foundation, Bob Morrison of Family Research Council and local elected officials

Location: Near Liberty University, 3700 Candlers Mountain Road, Lynchburg


Friday, October 26 11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote Citizens Rally

Featuring Genevieve Wood of The Heritage Foundation, Bob Morrison of Family Research Council and local elected officials

Location: State Capitol, 1000 Bank Street, Richmond


Friday, October 26 3:00-4:00 p.m. 

Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote Family Event

Featuring Genevieve Wood of The Heritage Foundation, Bob Morrison of Family Research Council and local elected officials

Location: The Prayer Furnace, 4430 Lee Hill School Drive, Fredericksburg


Friday, October 26 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote Citizens Forum

Featuring insights and live Q&A with Genevieve Wood of The Heritage Foundation, Bob Morrison of Family Research Council and local elected officials

Location: Reconciliation Community Church, 14654 Joplin Road, Manassas


Saturday, October 27 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Values Bus at Roanoke Valley Gun Show

Offering free materials and action steps to make a difference in Virginia

Click here for ticket information and discounts

Location: Roanoke Civic Center, 710 Williamson Road, Roanoke

Attorney General Cuccinelli Defends Federal Marriage Law

The attack on the definition of marriage is never ceasing. So neither is our work. In late May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, covering Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico, ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, legislation protecting the definition of marriage that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, was unconstitutional. The decision by that court threatens not only the federal DOMA, but the definition of marriage, both constitutional and by statute, in 42 states. The decision has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined 14 other state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review the First Circuit's decision. Because the Obama administration refused to uphold its responsibility and defend and enforce federal law, the U.S. House of Representatives assumed the legal defense of the statute.

Amazingly, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Obamacare last spring, President Obama, who once taught constitutional law, said federal courts did not have the right to strike down duly enacted laws by Congress. (What other laws are there?) But he is quite selective in interpreting his own peculiar constitutional interpretations. A year earlier, he instructed his Justice Department to cease its defense of DOMA, in essence asking the courts to declare it unconstitutional. (In fact, his declaration was so outrageous, a federal judge in another case, demanded the U.S. Attorney arguing it, to produce a brief from the Justice Department explaining if the Obama administration believed in the concept of judicial review.)

In the amicus brief, the 15 attorneys general present decades of law and legal precedent pertaining to the states' interest in benefiting heterosexual marriage because of children:

The choice to promote traditional marriages is based on an understanding that civil marriage recognition arises from the need to encourage biological parents to remain together for the sake of their children. It protects the only procreative relationship that exists and makes it more likely that unintended children, among the weakest members of society, will be cared for. ...

This ideal does not disparage the suitability of alternative arrangements where non-biological parents have legal responsibility for children. But these relationships are exactly that — alternatives to the model. States may rationally conclude that, all things being equal, it is better for the biological parents also to be the legal parents, and that marriage promotes that outcome.

Thomas Messner of the Heritage Foundation puts it this way:

Individuals marry based on various private interests. The public interest in marriage, in contrast, is based directly on the role that marriage plays in creating and raising the next generation. Same-sex marriage breaks the essential connection between marriage, children, and the mothers and fathers who create them.

Same-sex marriage also puts the law on the wrong side of reality by claiming that marriage is something other than what it is: the union of husband and wife. Many kinds of relationships are meaningful and valuable to the individuals involved and even to the broader public. But that does not make them marriages. It is not irrational or bigoted for the law to recognize that marriage is a unique kind of relationship deserving a unique kind of status.

Virginians, understanding the preciousness of marriage and its integral role in the raising of children, voted to add an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage in 2006. But the fact that same-sex marriage advocates are 0-30 at the state ballot box is no deterrent to their aggression, and has in fact fueled their anti-religious fervor. The Family Foundation will continue to stand in the gap with those elected officials who stand for marriage and religious liberty to ensure that your values are protected.

Heritage Foundation, FRC Lead National Values Bus Tour Into Virginia!

With the lousy economy the primary issue being addressed by the presidential candidates right now, where do values issues fit in this campaign? What about the so-called "War on Women"? Will women vote one way based on perceived "restrictions" on their "rights" or do a majority know demagoguery when they hear it? Two high profile, highly respected conservative policy organizations are shedding some light on these questions on a bus tour throughout Virginia. The Values Bus Tour —  driven by two leading public policy organizations, Family Research Council and The Heritage Foundation — started traveling through Virginia yesterday in Pearisburg and was in Harrisonburg and Woodstock today. It will be in Roanoke and Lynchburg Sunday and in Richmond Tuesday. This is part of a nationwide to advance the cause of fiscal and moral responsibility (see Laura Vozzella at the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog).

Earlier today, Connie Mackey of the Virginia Values PAC, explained the tour on Richmond's Morning News with Jimmy Barrett on WRVA-AM/1140, with guest host Andy Jenks of WWBT-NBC12. Follow this link to hear the 4:47 interview.

The tour is bringing Americans around the nation together to voice support for fiscal responsibility, religious liberty, life and marriage. We encourage you to take time in the coming days to attend one of the Bus Tour events or rallies in a city or town near you. Click here for more information on the Values Bus Tour website and try to make your way to an event closest to you. Here's the tour's itinerary, including highlights of its previous stops in Virginia:

Thursday, July 5: Pearisburg

Rally at Giles High School

Pastor Shahn Wilburn of Riverview Baptist Church and experts from FRC and The Heritage Foundation discussed religious freedom and how we can save the American dream.

Friday, July 6: Harrisonburg

Lunch with supporters at the Wood Grill Buffet and press conference at First Presbyterian Church on Court Square.

Friday, July 6: Woodstock

Rally at the Old Shenandoah County Courthouse

Sunday, July 8: Roanoke

Meet and greet, hear from Heritage and Family Research Council experts on how you can help save the American Dream and restore traditional family valuesFirst Baptist Church, 8:00 a.m. – Noon

Sunday, July 8: Lynchburg

Meet and greet, hear from Heritage and Family Research Council experts on how you can help save the American Dream and restore traditional family values. Heritage Baptist Church, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 10: Richmond

Conservative Coalition Meeting with Virginia Institute for Public Policy

Bull & Bear Club, 901 East Cary Street, 10:00 – 11:45 a.m.

Tuesday, July 10: Richmond

Myth of the War on Women Press Conference

James Center, 901 East Cary Street, 12:15 – 1:00 p.m.

Another Disaster Coming To Virginia

The joke going around in September, when President Barack Obama came to Richmond to tout his "jobs bill" on the heels of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Irene, was, "Great. Three weeks. Three disasters." Make it a fourth. The president is coming back to the Old Dominion next week, this time on a taxpayer-funded campaign trip (funded by Solyndra kickbacks?) right after the Democrat-controlled Senate killed his jobs bill this week (see Mike Brownfield at Heritage.org's The Foundry Blog) while also denying federal disaster aid to localities struck by the earthquake (just as a 3.0 aftershock as recorded last night damaging more buildings).

The president's trip is curious. He seems to be putting his own ego and prospects (as dim as they are) before his Virginia Democrat allies. Just as the vital General Assembly elections are coming into focus for thousands of voters and campaigns hit the homestretch, could there be any better rallying cry for the conservative base? We wonder how many Democrats will join the POTUS on stage? Phil Puckett? Ward Armstrong? Roscoe Reynolds? John Miller? Ralph Northam? Your president is calling!

Mr. President . . . not too many are jumping on your bus to nowhere. Maybe Tom Pierello is available?




ObamaCare On The Verge Of Providing Free Birth Control At The Expense Of Basic Freedoms

Forget for a moment the fiscal and health policy irresponsibilities  — of which there are plenty — of ObamaCare (trillions of dollars in more debt and health care rationing, to name only two of the largest). Let's just say government can wave its magic wand and make every decision with twice the wisdom of Solomon, we need do nothing but accept the beneficence of a big, all-knowing central authority, and life ran smoother than marbles on glass. That still doesn't address the absolute authoritarian rule ObamaCare empowers the federal government through unelected bureaucrats and political appointees — more than 1,000 "shalls" granted to the  Secretary of Health and Human Services alone. One of those powers is to force health insurance companies to provide coverage of certain procedures and at what cost (but the administration says it believes in capitalism). Some of that came down the pipe last week when the Institute of Medicine, the health policy arm of the National Academy of Sciences, released its recommendations on women's preventative health care to HHS. The understanding, of course, is that this was to deal with diseases and illnesses, you know silly, the things that make you sick. Stuff that can make you die or limit or incapacitate you. Things that aren't of choice.

But for some reason it wasn't a surprise when the IOM classified pregnancy as such and recommended to mandate insurance companies not only provide for contraception coverage, but offer it free — not even a co-pay. For those who eventually enroll in the government's insurance plan, that means the taxpayers will pick up the tab for birth control. Never mind the fiscal implications. Never mind even the health implications. What about conscience protections? Pharmacies, doctors, insurance companies, hospitals and the like who are morally opposed to contraception will be forced to provide it? What about employers at institutions, such as churches, who are opposed to contraception? No exceptions. We're all going to pony up for this if it becomes official (see Sister Mary Ann Walsh in the Washington Post's Views on Faith blog).

The Left already is soft pedaling this (if not demagoguing opponents). But we're not talking only about the occasional six pack of condoms. The IOM broadly defined contraception to include certain abortifacients. Abortion, we were told, would not be part of ObamaCare. Speaking of ObamaCare lies, check out the lies (not just y the administration about what the law will or won't do) but the lies used to sell the bill to the public (which still didn't buy it) as thoroughly sourced and documented by Michelle Malkin. But this administration never ceases to work around the will of the people and its legislative representatives. It rules. It doesn't govern. This isn't a subtle policy change, but an unprecedented, abrupt circumnavigation of decades of bipartisan agreement.

Here is how Chuck Donovan details it at The Foundry blog:

The IOM recommendations on preventive medicine not only would include a “full range” of contraceptives but would also stipulate that the contraceptives be offered without co-pays and exempt from deductibles —preferential treatment not accorded other procedures or prescription drugs. The term contraceptive is impressively flexible, including sterilization and devices and drugs that are known to have a mode of action that includes causing an abortion early in pregnancy. Among the latter is a new drug called ulipristal, or Ella, which is characterized as a morning-after pill, but it can actually work days after conception by “preventing attachment to the uterus,” as a promotional video from the manufacturer describes it.

Read the full post here. Meanwhile, in Virginia, Planned Parenthood wants the policy right here, right now. Hear it roar in this CBS6 piece which also features Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb. How ironic that those who cynically call for "choice" are clamoring for a policy that infringes on the economic, financial and conscience freedoms of companies, taxpayers and citizens of faith.

Free birth control? No problem. First, we will control your decisions.

Our Gala Speaker On October 8th Is . . .

Herman Cain!

Pastor, radio host, business mastermind, CEO, non-politician, and a champion for pro-life, pro-family policies, Herman Cain is a rising star within the conservative movement and a favorite amongst the Tea Party. While likely best known for his role as former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Mr. Cain also is remembered as the one who articulately challenged former President Bill Clinton on the negative effects of HillaryCare on small businesses during a widely publicized nationally televised town hall forum in 1994.

Not one to mince words, Mr. Cain recently spoke at The Heritage Foundation (see Heritage.org) and blasted Planned Parenthood. Referring to Planned Parenthood's founding purpose of killing black babies, Mr. Cain said, "It's not Planned Parenthood. No, it's planned genocide. You can quote me on that." (See Talking Points Memo.) He supports fully defunding Planned Parenthood.

A real life rags-to-riches story, he is the son of a chauffeur and a cleaner who has not always had life easy. However, he has accomplished much in his 66 years: a Masters degree from Purdue University, service in the U.S. Navy, associate pastor at a Baptist church, beating stage IV cancer, several executive positions at major corporations, president of the National Restaurant Association, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and senior advisor for the 1996 Dole-Kemp presidential campaign to name only a few of his significant accomplishments. A Georgia native, he is married to his wife, Gloria, and his a father and grandfather.

You won't want to miss hearing Herman Cain address the annual Family Foundation Galaon Saturday evening, October 8, in Richmond (see today's Richmond Times-Dispatch). As with the last two years when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Congressman Mike Pence inspired crowds of 1,000, Herman Cain's personal story will encourage, motivate and energize you for the future. Join other like-minded folks at this one-of-a-kind event that has become a "must attend" for conservative Virginians and a "who’s who" for politicians and elected officials.

The Gala will again be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Details, including information on sponsorship packages, tickets and program advertisements, will be forthcoming in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, we hope you'll reserve this date on your calendar.

Additional information also will be provided via e-mail and online at our Gala page (click here). To receive the information by mail, please call us at (804) 343-0010 or e-mail Gala@FamilyFoundation.org.

Land Of The Free? Really?

It's ironic that while the rest of the world is moving toward economic freedom to ignite their economies, United States, under the governance of Washington's liberal elites, has retreated from liberty. It's true. While countries such as Denmark, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia were high-tailing forward, we moved backward, and Bahrain — Bahrain — is nipping at our heels. These are the conclusions of the The Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation annual Index of Economic Freedom. In fact, the report states that the U.S. score, which dropped to ninth in the study, fell from the ranks of the "economically free nations" to that of the "mostly free" ranks. According to the study, the U.S. decline was . . .

largely the result of large government spending increases and passage of President Barack Obama’s health care plan, which severely restricts consumer choice and private health care markets while increasing the size and cost of government.

Also of note is that more than half of the 183 countries in the survey improved their economic freedom, seeking to untangle their governments from the private sector to emerge from recession rather than increasing government's role (see Theodore Bromund at Heritage's The Foundry). The report rated countries' fiscal soundness and openness to trade and investment, government size, business and labor regulation, property rights, corruption, monetary stability and financial competition.

According to Virginia Fourth District Congressman Randy Forbes, who blogs about the study here:

It is clear that huge increases in government spending have impacted our economic freedom as a nation and it shows us that reining in government spending must be a top priority for the 112th Congress. Our nation was built on the premise that we are the “land of the free,” and that includes economic freedom. “Mostly free” should not be an economic option for the United States.

We now are in a period where big government not only threatens our liberty with ever increasing control over our decisions, but with the incomprehensible debt it has accrued in doing so. Debt enslaves people and societies to those to whom it owes the money. That those debts will never be called in is no longer realistic. We may always be be the home of the brave, but land of the free is not a guarantee.

Event Alert: Money, Greed And God

Our friends at The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy are hosting a Webinar and breakfast with Jay Richards, author of the bestseller Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem (see review at the Acton Institute's Power Blog by Ray Nothstine and the review at First Things' Wintery Knight blog). In his book, Richards argues capitalism is fully consistent with Biblical teaching and why it is the best bet for a renewed economy (see interview with Kevin DeYoung at at the Gospel Coalition). Richards is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a contributing editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute. In recent years, he has been a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a research fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute.

The breakfast is Wednesday, October 13, from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. at the Atrium of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association building, 4200 Innslake Drive, in Glen Allen. The cost is $7.95 per person but $8.00 if you bring your minister as your guest. Click here to register online.

TJIPP also is hosting a Webinar with Mr. Richards on Tuesday, October 12, from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. To register for the Webinar, call (703) 440-9447. We encourage attendance at both events to learn more about the very important topic of maintaining a relationship with God while participating in a capitalistic society.

Misunderstanding The Constitution And Poverty: A Real Connection

Today is the 223rd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, know as Constitution or Citizenship Day. Not surprisingly, polls are finding that a vast majority of Americans are woefully under-educated about the Constitution and its principles. One poll found two-thirds of Americans admit they don't have a clue what our nation’s foundational document says. This extraordinary failure of our education system is having a devastating impact on our society and culture. Not understanding the basic principles of our government, its duties and the restrictions our Founding Fathers placed on it, is at least partially responsible for the mess we now have in Washington, D.C. Blame the politicians, yes. But the fact remains that as long as Americans continue to vote for people like President Barack Obama, whose vision for our nation is thoroughly alien to that which our Founders created and to what the constitution actually states — as illustrated by his vast expansion of government — we are going to continue to get what we deserve.

One simple way to reconnect with our founding principles is to read the U.S. Constitution, which we highly encourage, especially on this anniversary day each year. Click here to read it if you haven't in a while. To see what one group is doing to improve constitutional literacy, and how you can help, click here.

Also on the front page of many newspapers today are reports that the poverty rate in the United States, to no one's surprise, has risen. Of course, most of the articles quote left-leaning politicians or think tanks that are quick to blame the government for not doing enough to take care of people in need. Unfortunately, because so many Americans don't know what our constitution says, or what our Founders meant by what it says, the message that "the government needs to do more" often finds support.

What the articles don't mention is that, according to the Heritage Foundation, "since the beginning of the War on Poverty, the U.S. has spent $15.9 trillion on means-tested welfare. And today, spending on welfare programs is 13 times greater than it was in 1964." Yet poverty continues to rise.

The articles choose to ignore the far more dramatic impact that family fragmentation and out-of-wedlock births have on poverty. For example, "children born to single mothers . . . are five times more likely to live in poverty than children born to married parents. Today, over 40 percent of children are born outside wedlock, and the numbers are particularly devastating for Hispanics (51.3 percent) and African-Americans (71.6 percent)." Marriage drops the probability of child poverty by an astonishing 82 percent.

We conservatives often are accused of focusing on "divisive" social issues such as marriage and abortion at the expense of "more important" issues like the economy and poverty. But it is, in fact, our concern about those in poverty that requires us to do more to promote and strengthen marriage. We can choose to continue down the route we've been following since 1964 and apply band-aid solutions after the fact, or we can do the hard work of providing the only long-range solution to poverty — stable marriages and families.

Speaking Of No Clue . . . Representative Gerry Connolly

This does and does not deserve comment. I mean, it's so tempting, but in the end, when a liberal wants to supply his own rope. ... Here we have one of Virginia's own, U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly, a Fairfax County Democrat, telling the Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke on June 9 there's no money in the federal budget to get cut (H/T Norman Leahy at Tertium Quids). Timing, they say, is everything: As if set up to be punked (Hanother Tertium Quids H/T to Josh Eboch), The Heritage Foundationposted this video the very next day, complete with cartoon character and a multiple choice word problem Rep. Connolly surely would fail. When they say we don't make Washingtons, Jeffersons and Madisons anymore, the Connollys of the world make it hard to argue. (For budget cutting ideas, see Cut Spending Now.)

From U.S. Representative Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) YouTube channel:

Rep. Connolly: A $3.5 trillion budget and nowhere to cut.

From The Heritage Foundation's YouTube channel:

Maybe start with the first class travel, extra postal workers, NASCAR sponsorship and aid to Chinese prostitutes!

How Virginia Can Create More Wealth And Jobs

Even with the hodge podge of economic incentives Virginia has had or created during the last session of the General Assembly (see Governor McDonnell talk about them in previous post), there is one sure way to guarantee prosperity. Get married, and stay that way. That is essentially the finding in a study released last month by Pew Charitable Trusts. Researchers found that family structure, and in particular the defragmenting of family through divorce, has a significant economic impact on children and their ability to rise into higher income brackets.

The study found that children of divorced parents are more likely to remain in lower income brackets as adults than children of continuously married parents. Also, while only 26 percent of children of divorce move from the lower income brackets to the middle or upper class, 50 percent of children from intact marriages are "upwardly mobile." The report concludes that while there are certainly a number of factors that determine a child's economic opportunities, family structure is high on the list.

This is not the first study that tells us marriage is good for children and that divorce has a negative impact. Social science is nearly unanimous in its conclusions in this area. On the other side of the equation, a study done in 2008 found that divorce and family fragmentation costs taxpayers in the United States $1 billion annually, and Virginians in particular pay $776 million annually in various social services because of family fragmentation.

My first response to this new study was "big surprise." After all, we have argued for years that family structure is a driving factor in economic success. My second response was, "where were all the news stories about this important research?"

Reports that come to these types of conclusions normally are dismissed by the mainstream media and "experts" as scientifically flawed or agenda driven. This time, however, perhaps because Pew Charitable Trusts has a positive reputation and the organizations involved in the study range from the Heritage Foundation on the political right to the Brookings Institution on the political left, no dismissals of the study can be found. In fact, outside one small Washington Times article and The Economist's Democracy In America Blog, no mention of the study can be found in our cursory Google search.

But regardless of the media's refusal to print the facts about marriage and divorce, the evidence continues to mount. Strong, stable marriages where couples stay together prove fertile ground for the economic success of children.

So, as Virginia's elected officials ponder how to create a better atmosphere for people to get good jobs and create more wealth — in addition to the labyrinth of Opportunity Fund Grants, tax credits and other complex corporate incentives — maybe they can learn to keep it simple,  starting with policies that promote and encourage the most basic economic unit of all. Strong families.

Enough Said

From the Heritage Foundation comes this little tidbit:

Ramesh Ponnuru had the best applause line of the Thursday night roundtable when he observed that the passage of Obamacare demonstrates that liberals are willing to risk losing in order to enact something they believe in, and he asked: When was the last time a conservative politician took any risks for something he believed in?

An excellent point. True leadership requires risk, and there are too few true conservative leaders in America.

That said, great leaders do something that is lacking among all the political camps in America — they persuade. There is a lot of yelling among the political class, but when was the last time you heard a politician of any kind try to persuade someone of something they truly believe in? Of course, persuasion requires that politicians have intellects that can handle more than sound bites, and it requires an audience that has an attention span something beyond a cantaloupe, neither of which seem in vogue today.

But a guy can dream . . . .

Family Foundation Response To Governor McDonnell's Executive Directive On "Sexual Orientation"

The following is an excerpt from a statement I released today concerning Governor Bob McDonnell's recent "Executive Directive" regarding "sexual orientation." For the full statement, including several examples of "sexual orientation" conflicting with religious liberty, click here. For a PDF of the entire statement, click here. Below, you will find links to sourced research studies, a legal analysis and an action item.

Response to Governor McDonnell's Executive Directive No. 1 

The reactions to Governor Bob McDonnell's recent decision to issue an "Executive Directive" that includes "sexual orientation" as a protected class in his administration's hiring decisions have been varied. While some, including the Commonwealth’s largest homosexual political group, Equality Virginia, who advocated for the policy change, have praised the Governor, they have also expressed disappointment that the Directive didn’t go far enough. Others have questioned why the Governor issued the Directive at all. Many are confused about its implications.

News outlets that increasingly have less print space for substance, only address the surface-level point of "discrimination." It is not acceptable, however, for thoughtful, forward-looking policy organizations to limit their review of the Directive in this manner.

At issue is not, in fact, the simple question of whether the Directive's undefined label of "sexual orientation" disqualifies one for a state job or requires special compensation/treatment in state employment. Instead, nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, whether enshrined in law or implemented through internal constructs, and regardless of their legal weight, highlight the inevitable and unavoidable clash between the unalienable fundamental right of religious liberty and the postmodern era of sexual freedom. It is a clash that isn't taking place simply in the realm of ideas, but in courtrooms across the country, affecting the lives of everyday Americans. Potentially, there is no greater threat to our Constitutionally protected right of conscience, and as importantly the right to exercise our faith publicly, than that of the continued advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) "rights."

And perhaps no one has put this battle more succinctly and honestly than respected Georgetown University Law professor, lesbian, LGBT activist and Obama nominee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chai Feldblum, who stated:

There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases sexual liberty should win. I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.

Those who advocate for the advancement of sexual behavior protections in our law have little or no room for those who have religious convictions on those issues. In her paper, Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion, Feldblum, who authored the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), argues quite openly that it is the primary goal of the LGBT political movement to elevate (either through legislation or the courts) homosexual orientation to moral equivalence with heterosexual orientation and to do so at the cost of religious liberty.

She admits in her assessment of the clash that, "we are in a zero-sum game: a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side," but "in making the decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the [sexual] liberty of LGBT people."

* * * * * *

In responding to Governor McDonnell's Directive granting protection to LGBT people seeking employment or who are currently employed in his administration, Kent Willis of the ACLU takes Feldblum's statements to their logical conclusion:

We hope this is only the beginning, and that the Governor's example will inspire legislators to finally pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both private and public sector employment. [Emphasis added]

Willis' may be the most honest statement thus far. As both Willis and Feldblum clearly articulate, there is no religious liberty interest that can withstand the interest of LGBT people to self-identify and express their identity publicly.

» To contact the Governor and express your concerns about his decision, please click here.

» For more on the potential legal ramifications of Governor McDonnell's Directive, click here for Alliance Defense Fund's analysis.

» For more information on the impact of nondiscrimination policies on traditional marriage laws and amendments click here for a Heritage Foundation Backgrounder.

» For more information on the impact of same sex marriage on religious liberty click here for a Heritage Foundation Backgrounder.

TQ Blog Radio On The Air

A few weeks back we congratulated our friends at Tertium Quids on the announcement of the launch of their Internet radio show. Now, it's on the air. Tomorrow at 10 a.m. "TQ Radio" will have as its guest Dr. Ron Utt of the Heritage Foundation. Dr. Utt is an expert on transportation and has written and studied the issue extensively. Perhaps some in the General Assembly, the Governor's Mansion and certain newspaper editorial boards should tune in . . . if they are as open to new ideas and solutions as they claim, and hear how Virginia's transportation network can be fixed without raiding our wallets. The show takes listener calls. The number to participate is 347-426-3146. Tune in tomorrow and weekly to hear what is likely to be an excellent array of guests on TQ Radio.