president obama

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)

Inside The Tax Increase Numbers: The Laundry List Of What Will Be Taxed And By How Much

Here's the list of what will be taxed and by how much in the proposed "transportation tax increase" now before both chambers of the General Assembly. Not angry yet? Read on:

» A 3.5  percent wholesale sales tax paid by distributors would replace the current 17.5 cents per gallon flat tax on gasoline. The new tax, though, will be passed on to consumers, along with a 6 percent wholesale sales tax on diesel fuel.

» The 5 percent retail sales and use tax paid statewide on most purchases will increase to 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and to 5.3 percent in the rest of the state.

» A $100 annual fee will be levied on alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrids.

» The sales tax on the purchase of cars (new or used) will increase from 3 percent to 4 percent.

» In Northern Virginia, the tax on house sales will increase by 40 cents per hundred dollars. That's an extra $1,600 on the sale of a $400,000 home.

» Also in Northern Virginia, the occupancy tax for hotels will increase 2 percent.

» If Congress passes the Marketplace Equity Act (which requires online businesses to collect sales taxes) the proceeds will be distributed as follows: 55.55 percent for schools; 22.2 percent for local governments with no restrictions; and 22.2 percent for roads and transit.

» If Congress does not pass the Internet sales tax collections act, an additional 1.6  percent tax will be added to the wholesale gas tax.

» There is no guarantee that these new revenues will be spent entirely on transportation since the Senate, twice this session (including today) defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to lock away transportation funds from general fund spending. The Senate has defeated this needed reform for years.

» There is no guarantee that the General Assembly or a future governor won't come back for more tax increases.

» All of these tax increases are on top of the newly increased "fiscal cliff" tax increases by Congress and President Obama and pending local tax increases many Virginia jurisdictions are looking into, such as meals and property tax increases.

If all this isn't enough, there has not been a good faith effort to cut spending in other areas and reapportion it to transportation. Now are you angry?

Please immediately contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) and urge them to vote against this massive tax hike scheme!

Planned Parenthood Targets Ken Cuccinelli

A Politico article today revealed that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest and richest abortion business, is coordinating with Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe to target Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in the article that

Cuccinelli's ongoing attacks on women's health and economic security should be a warning to us all: women's health will be on the Virginia ballot in 2013.

A website created by the coordinated campaign targets the Attorney General's positions on abortion, forced taxpayer subsidizing of contraception, abortion-causing drugs and President Obama's taxpayer-funded health insurance scheme. According to Politico, the website includes "a disclaimer at the bottom of the site [that] says it was authorized by the campaign of Terry McAuliffe."

Of course, it should come as no surprise that Planned Parenthood would coordinate with a liberal Democrat campaign. Its political entities have spent tens of millions of dollars on partisan activities while whining consistently that it doesn't have enough money to bring its abortion centers up to basic health and safety standards. It is, however, committed to forcing you, the taxpayer, to fund its operations to the tune of more than half a billion dollars annually!

I guess it's all about priorities.

The partisan political activity of Planned Parenthood and its targeting of Virginia should come as no surprise. But it should serve as a reminder of just how important this year's elections in Virginia are going to be. Because only Virginia has a potentially competitive statewide race, national interest groups are going to spend millions of dollars to influence the outcome.

It's also notice to pro-life Virginians that we have to communicate with everyone that we know the truth about the Attorney General's record, the truth about the fact that Virginia's abortion centers are the real threat to women's health and, speaking of threats to women, that the current federal administration's debt-ridden agenda is a horrendous threat to women's "economic security."

We are not going to have the resources of a billion dollar industry such as Planned Parenthood and we certainly aren't going to be able to rely on the "mainstream" media. But we will have the truth.

Avoiding The Fiscal Cliff: If Clinton-Era Tax Rates Are Good, Why Not Clinton-Era Spending Levels, Too?

In the aftermath of the campaign almost all of Washington's attention has focused on the "Fiscal Cliff." House Republicans, still solidly in charge and, for the time being, remembering that it is the House that is constitutionally charged with initiating money bills, remains opposed to tax rate increases. President Obama, on the other hand, seems to think he won a mandate to soak the rich. In fact, he's soaking everyone. Little known to the average Joe and Jane is that Obamacare has several crippling tax increases that don't take effect until 2013 or 2014, including several on the darling middle class that he speaks so majestically about saving. (Or "rebuilding," as if the government can manufacture an entire economic class of people, as if people are roads to be built — maybe, because with this president, it always seems to come down to the need to "build roads, bridges and infrastructure" even when "they weren't as shovel ready as we thought.")

One of these tax increases, which is completely non-sequitor to health care, is a 3.8 percent surtax on any gains after selling a house. Talk about "rebuilding." How does he expect to kickstart the housing industry when people, wanting to sell their house to, perhaps, accomodate a growing family, or realize a profit after a lot of sweat equity, gets hammered with a new tax, the money of which would otherwise go toward buying their new house?

So President Obama's rhetoric about raising taxes on the rich while maintaining the current tax rates on the middle class as part of any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff is disingenuous. But that's not the worst of of it. His ad nauseum, rote, teleprompter induced refrain that the spectrum of tax rates he proposes are the same as they were during the economically good years during the Clinton administration are absent of one key fact: Spending was about half of what it is now. Funny how that's never mentioned.

If the president wants to go back to the income tax rates of "the Clinton years" then we should go back to the spending levels of those same years. Is it just me, or is it odd that this rather important part of the equation is omitted from President Obama's talking points; that the mainstream media, and even conservatives, seem to neglect it. So while we're going to go back to "Clinton era" income tax rates (by letting the "Bush tax rates" — which the president himself renewed two years ago — expire if no deal is reached by January 1) let's go back to that period's same spending levels. That would result in real spending reductions of about $1.5 trillion a year, which would come close to, if not actually, balance the yearly budget (if the Senate would ever pass a budget). Then, maybe, we can have an honest discussion about avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.

President Obama And Abortion: Not One Restriction

The following article was written by John McCormack at The Weekly Standard Blog:

At the end of the vice presidential debate Thursday night, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan lobbed charges of extremism at one another on the issue of abortion. "The Democratic party used to say they want [abortion] to be safe, legal, and rare," Ryan said. "Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding, taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized or wouldn’t second-guess their one-child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That, to me, is pretty extreme."

Biden shot back, saying that Ryan has "argued that, in the case of rape or incest, it was still — it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend." Debate moderator Martha Raddatz followed up with Ryan, asking if pro-choice Americans should be "worried" about Romney, but she didn't follow up with Biden.

In the spin room following the debate, I asked top Obama officials, as well as Planned Parenthood chief Cecille Richards, if Obama's position on abortion is as extreme as what Ryan claimed. The Obama campaign denied the president favored abortion without restriction, but top Obama officials Jim Messina, Stephanie Cutter, and David Axelrod could not name a single restriction the president supports.

TWS: Mr Messina, the issue of abortion came up tonight with both sides trying to paint the other as extremist. Can you say, are there any restrictions that the president supports at any stage of pregnancy on the issue of abortion?

MESSINA: Look, we have been absolute[ly] clear. I think as you saw an absolute difference between the president and Romney on this. Romney’s position has been on four different sides. But I take him at his word that he says he will be happy to sign a bill outlawing all abortions in the United States of America. That’s not our position that’s not where the American public is. And I think it’s going to be a very difficult position for them to defend in the battleground states. Swing women voters in places like Colorado and Virginia looked at that exchange tonight that you talked about and said we cannot support this guy.

TWS: So the president doesn’t support any restrictions on abortion?

MESSINA: Look, we’ve been very clear. You know our position on abortion.

TWS: No. I asked, can you say what it is?

MESSINA: Look, don’t put words in my mouth. I’ve been very clear about our position. And that’s what it is.

TWS: Can you name one restriction?

Messina ended the exchange and moved on to another question.

Stephanie Cutter also said Obama supports some restrictions on abortion, but wouldn't say what they were:

TWS: Are there any restrictions he supports at any stage of pregnancy? Or there's no restrictions whatsover? Is that the president's position?

CUTTER: No, that’s not his position.

TWS: Then can you name one restriction that he supports on abortion?

CUTTER: He has several votes on this. We can get them to you.

David Axelrod similarly ducked questions. So I turned to Cecille Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood. "There already are restrictions on the books," she told me. But does the president support any of them? Richards said she didn't know. "I haven’t spoken to him about those," she replied.

In 2003, Barack Obama was asked if he was "all situations including the late term thing?" He answered in the affirmative.

The record doesn't appear to show that the president has ever supported any restriction on abortion. He opposes the Hyde amendment, which means he favors taxpayer funding of abortion. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion. And he opposed parental consent laws. We'll let you know if the Obama team is able to come up with any evidence showing that Obama's position is anything short of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy.

Pictures Of The Day: DNC Learns Plane Banners Don't Have Spell Check

Activists, pundits, academics, media and elitists on the Left (redundant, I know), and their favorite politicians have no hesitation to smugly and condescendingly caricature Christians and conservatives as ignorant, uneducated, mind-numbed, simple, unable to comprehend complex issues, and generally unwashed. The rich irony: so many of these types willingly admit they get their information from Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live. So quick to blow up headlines over a simply mis-phrased clause in a sentence by a conservative while ignoring the president's claim that "The private sector is doing fine" or that small business owners "didn't build that," the media and other left-wing institutions abound in hypocrisy. Which makes the mistakes by the Left even funnier. Take, for example, President Obama's campaign in Ohio (or supporters thereof). While the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaigned in Ohio a few days before the GOP convention, Democrat operatives rented a plane to fly over the Romney-Ryan rally with a tail banner. The operatives proudly professed it to the media as a snarky counter attack.

The problem? Simple grammar. See the picture below. Instead of the word "than" they used "then" and still considered their tactic nothing less than brilliant (see The Blaze).

 If at first you have no message and your grammar is incorrect . . .

Undeterred, the Democrat National Committee decided to rent another plane and make another banner to fly over Tampa during the Republican National Convention. A DNC spokesman proudly tweeted about it. Yet, he found out the hard way, again, that plane banners don't have spell checkers: instead of the appropriate plural "women" it used the singular "woman" (The Blaze has more).

Make another grammar mistake for millions to see while still belittling conservatives as dim.

How Will You Answer? Abortion Survivor Contrasts Obama Position With Her Story In New SBA List Ad

The Susan B. Anthony List, a leading pro-life organization, earlier this week released a compelling one minute television ad featuring Melissa Ohden, who not only survived an abortion but also her subsequent abandonment. She describes her own life or death ordeal then juxtaposes it with the stated position, and legislative voting history, of President Barack Obama, which includes his opposition to bans on late-term and sex-selection abortions, and protections for abortion survivors (i.e., letting born alive babies die). It's a chilling contrast. While all three of those proposals enjoy consistent super majority approval in public opinion polls, pro-abortion activists turn logic on its head with their claim that defending life is somehow an extreme position. Ms. Ohden's testimony demonstrates which side truly is extreme.

According to a statement by SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser:

. . . it's important Americans know the President's best-kept secret: his extreme record on abortion. Melissa Ohden's powerful story draws a stark contrast to his unbending support of abortion and the abortion industry and reveals the human face to this debate. President Obama's appalling record on abortion is not just limited to his four votes to deny rights to abortion survivors but spans to his recent heartless refusal to support bans on sex-selection and late-term abortions. These actions fly in the face of mainstream American views and run counter to the President's first term pre-election talk of finding common ground. Recent polling reveals the majority of Americans support bans on these horrific practices.

How will you answer? President Obama's action, or rather inaction, speaks louder than his many words words about common ground.

Write The Caption Contest

Here's a picture taken last week of President Obama on the campaign trail. In a rare lack of diligence, his campaign let this image of The Chosen One, less his head but with ol' reliable 'prompter in its stead, out into the public domain. Very uncharacteristic of the heavy handed administration and its willing allies in the media to take anything other than a glorification image of the president, much less for something so lowly to get published. But it has and many would argue how appropriate: His inescapable companion, the teleprompter, appearing as a literal appendage to complement its figurative attachment, looking blank and in place of where thoughts normally emanate from humans. I normally caption all images I include in my blog posts. But I want your help for this one because not even the sky is the limit. Please leave your comments as to what you think the caption of this photo should be. Leave as many choices as you like. The possibilities are endless. The fun immense.

March Madness

It seems that the Bracketologist in Chief, in between attending NCAA basketball tournament games and denying the religious liberty of Christian churches and institutions by forcing them to pay for abortions and contraception, took time recently to edit more than his tournament bracket sheet. (See him on ESPN making his March Madness tournament picks.)

It's not only religious institutions. The Obama administration is whipping the states into his ideological conformity through fiat and declaration, as well. It is more than enough for nine state attorneys general, including Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli, who recently released a report on the thousands of new regulatory burdens by the administration that do not meet constitutional muster and/or that are outright violations of law. Said Attorney General Cuccinelli at a news conference last week in Washington:

The release of this report — this laundry list of transgressions — confirms that this Administration repeatedly shows disdain for states, for federal laws it finds inconvenient, the Constitution, the courts, and the American people. This has to stop.

This is not about policy. ... (It is about) this administration's disregard for the law. (President Obama and his deputies are) the greatest set of lawbreakers that have run the federal government in our lifetimes. ...

The report has gained national attention. Paul Bedard has more in his "Washington Secrets" column in the Washington Examiner, here, and Neil Munro at The Daily Caller covers it, here.

It's that time of year, again. Time to fill out your brackets or edit your constitution, whichever is giving you more trouble.

Three Weeks, Three Disasters; Or, The Only Question You Have To Ask About The President's Jobs Bill

There's a lot to be written about President Obama's jobs bill (which still hasn't been formally introduced, despite his obnoxious refrain to "Pass this bill!"), and we will. But in the meantime, there really is only one question you need to ask about it:

If the provisions in the bill are so great, so wonderful, so dynamic as to accomplish all he says it will — repair schools, build bridges, employee teachers and construction workers, revitalize small business, increase manufacturing, bring down the debt, push back the rising tides (oh, never mind, that was another promise) and save the American economy and end unemployment as we know it — if it is that good, why has he waited two and a half years to propose it?

The fact is, there isn't anything new in the bill, absolutely nothing that warrants such a long delay. The fact is, instead of working on improving the economy for two and a half years, he concentrated on regulating it and taking over large swaths of it.

Truth often is found in humor. One joke going around these parts when the president decided to pitch his plan in Richmond after the earthquake and Hurricane Irene, was: "Three weeks, three disasters."

Nothing is more annoying than someone telling you how great some thing (or someone, himself) is, but not putting up. You know the expression: Either do that or shut up. In that regard, Mr. President ought to talk less and produce more.

According To The Left's Rhetoric, President Obama Faces Security Risk During Jobs Speech Tomorrow Night

Just listening to Rush Limbaugh. As usual, he has it nailed with precision insight and delicious humor. According to Rush, shouldn't President Obama be afraid to enter the House of Representatives tomorrow night to give his jobs campaign speech, which he could've (and should've) given months ago (which we have learned now won't even detail all of his proposals — surprise!) After all, by his own recent admission and that of Vice President Biden and members of the administration, "civil rights" leaders, radical union leaders and leftist Congressional allies, there will be close to 300 terrorists, barbarians, outlaws, hostage takers, racists and sons-of-bitches — all of whom should be condemned to hell — in the House chamber tonight. The president is one brave man to enter a hall filled with ne'er-do-wells like that! We hope the Secret Service is especially careful tonight in its security sweep and monitoring of those hooligans who enter the hall. By the logic of the Left's extreme, over-the-top recent rhetoric, there should be several arrests tonight.

What The "Jobs" Speech Controversy Really Says About The President

The flap over President Barack Obama's "jobs" speech is interesting not so much in what the pundits are making of it relative to the presidential campaign and the president's attempt to upstage the Republican candidates at their debate next week, as true as that is. But it says a lot more than that. It's a reflection of what he long has thought about ordinary Americans. (Remember this about being "bitter" and Bibles and guns?) A White House spokesman said, in an attempt to minimize the controversy which has made the president look petty, that there were only two dates available and no harm was meant (Jamie Dupree's Atlanta Journal-Constitution Washington Insider blog) by picking a day that would bump a debate scheduled for months. First, if the unemployment situation is as real, affecting and urgent as it is — and it is (but funny how no one in the administration, nor the Mainstream Media, calls it a "crisis" although their contrived issues are cataclysmic and require immediate and drastic action) — why didn't he make the speech before jetting off to the ritzy Martha's Vineyard for vacation? It's not as if we've had a sudden spike in unemployment. It's been a problem since . . . about . . . since, basically he passed his "stimulus" bill.

So, this wasn't an, "Oops, my bad," moment where he made a mistake. Excluding stupidity, then, as the reason for the scheduling fiasco, it's not because he or his advisers are dumb, but that they think we are! 

To make this an urgent issue after weeks of ponderous inaction and paralysis, then fire a political volley at your opponents, and try to pawn it off as a quirky coincidence? Sure! We get it! But not the way they want us to get it.

It wasn't long ago that the president had the audacity to mockingly laugh at his failed stimulus, which did put us in crisis — debt crisis — and exposed his, "I fooled you, you're not as smart as me" arrogance. Remember this? After a thoughtful question about government obstacles to implementing the "stimulus" we got:

And that was after this:

Arrogance and mocking laughs from a know-nothing on the economy. But he thinks we're stupid.

Ask Your Senate Candidates A Question Or Two

With Virginia's crucial state Senate elections fast approaching — primaries are one week from today and the general election is November 8 — candidates will campaign and talk ad nauseam about certain issues. Incumbents will toot their horns about how much money they've saved taxpayers (while simultaneously demanding funding for their pet issues) in stark contrast to the other side's handling of the nation's finances in Washington (the other side, of course, no matter which side it is, always being at fault). So, we have a question or two for you to ask candidates when they talk about how they saved Virginians' tax dollars and how they are so much more responsible than those in Washington. Despite what they would have you believe, many in the General Assembly (especially in the Senate) the last several years have shown no distinguishing characteristics from the big spenders in Washington. You know the types — spend now, tax even quicker and ask never ask questions later.

We all remember former Governor Tim Kaine's campaign promise not to seek a tax increase. In record flip-flop time, he proposed one of the biggest tax increases in Virginia history in his first week into office, ostensibly for transportation improvements. One week! Forget looking into other ways, forget looking at the books, forget taking time to review the best options. Not deterred after the legislation's rebuff, he jumped on board every tax increase bill, most notably ones that emanated from the Senate. They all failed, but he never stopped trying, even as he was turning over the keys to the executive mansion to current Governor Bob McDonnell, proposing a budget that included what would've been the largest tax increase in Virginia history (by raising the income tax, no less).

During Mr Kaine's four years of trying to raise taxes on an already-sputtering economy, conservative spending hawks in the General Assembly asked for an audit of VDOT. If you want to raise taxes for VDOT to spend, shouldn't we see how it spends what it has? But the then-governor and the tax-first, ask- later never spenders, whose reflexive answer to every problem is to tax and spend because government does no wrong with what it already spends, balked. Enter Governor McDonnell and, finally, an audit of VDOT. About 11 months ago, the audit revealed VDOT hoarding $1.45 billion (while refusing to pay just compensation to property owners whose land they confiscate). All that money while Mr. Kaine and numerous members of the Virginia Senate (many listed here) wanted to dip their hands into already-pressed families' wallets for money that wasn't necessary, a situation now mirrored by his former boss, President Obama, and liberals in Washington even as debt and spending have emerged as the biggest non-military crisis to confront us in generations.

So, as they campaign this summer and fall, and things continue to be dicey in the economy, and all blame points to Washington, ask the candidates for the Virginia Senate:

1. How many tax increases "for transportation" did they support the last four years, and

2. Did they support auditing VDOT, while advocating increased taxes on Virginia families at the same time VDOT hoarded $1.45 billion.

If they answer to either is yes, you may want to follow up with a third or fourth: Is that your idea of good fiscal management? and, Why is it you think it's okay to tax hard-working families to feed wasteful government spending?

The fact is, the VDOT audit, although seemingly forgotten already, was one of the biggest single reforms in recent state government memory and serves as a bell-ringing reminder to politicians, in Richmond or Washington, who think increasing already high tax burdens (especially in hard economic times) must be part of a solution to bring budgets into balance. It just isn't so. Cutting spending must always be the first place to look. Not to do so is patently disingenuous and shows no regard for the taxpayers, but instead, homage to the Leviathan state, instead.

Eleventh Circuit Court Of Appeals: ObamaCare's Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional

Funny how August, supposedly the slowest of all months for news, can gobsmack you in the face with a flying hammer full of headlines, and on a Friday of all things. In fact, there is a fair amount of state news today, as well as our open house last night, that we wanted to write about today. But that will wait to next week. For now, it's all about ObamaCare and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling today that the linchpin of ObamaCare — the individual mandate (i.e., the government forcing citizens to buy a product) — is unconstitutional, and some observations. Here's a good first look analysis by Bryan Preston of Pajamas » The court seems to indicate that the rest of the law is constitutional. However, without the funding the forced purchases and penalties provide, there is no way the law can be funded (unless President Obama takes us trillions further in debt). But as far as the mandate, the court used phrases such as "unbounded assertion of congressional authority" and called its reach "breathtaking in scope," going further even than opponents had in their arguments.

» It's interesting that the 11th Circuit came to its decision this quickly: The 4th Circuit, known as the "Rocket Docket," heard the Virginia challenge earlier and still has not released its decision.

»The 11th Circuit's 2-1, 304-page decision apparently says the individual mandate is unconstitutional but the other parts may be constitutional. Judge Roger Vinson, the Federal District Court Judge in Florida, on whose opinion the appeal was based, ruled the entire law was unconstitutional. After all, the law has no severability clause which stipulates that if any part of a bill is ruled unconstitutional, then the remaining parts will remain in place. Without that clause, once the 11th Circuit ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional, the entire law must be ruled unconstitutional. But, we'll take this major decision for now.

» The three judge panel was made up of one Bill Clinton appointee, one George W. Bush appointee, and one Clinton appointee who was appointed to the Federal District bench by Ronald Reagan.

» Here is a key sentence from Judge Vinson that the 11th Circuit upheld today:

The individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law.

» Where are Eliot Spitzer and all the liberals who mocked the intelligence of all state Attorneys General for filing suit against ObamaCare, saying that they had no chance and it clearly is constitutional? This is now at least the third federal court to rule it unconstitutional, including the Federal District Court for Eastern Virginia (Judge Henry Hudson). Where are all the leftist activists who yelled that these legal actions were "a waste of time and tax dollars"? Isn't it nice to stay quiet and let them eat crow when the time comes?

» Kyle Wingfield of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has good information on the decision and is updating it frequently. He provides this nugget from the 304-page ruling,as legal analysts continue to pour through the lengthy document.

It cannot be denied that the individual mandate is an unprecedented exercise of congressional power. … Never before has Congress sought to regulate commerce by compelling non-market participants to enter into commerce so that Congress may regulate them. The statutory language of the mandate is not tied to health care consumption — past, present, or in the future. Rather, the mandate is to buy insurance now and forever. The individual mandate does not wait for market entry.

» David Rivkin, the attorney hired by the more than two dozen attorneys general to argue — and who won — the multi-state lawsuit in Federal District Court in Florida, issued this news release. The former Reagan administration attorney, and one of America's top legal minds on a myriad of disciplines, said the ruling is a major victory for ObamaCare opponents and that the court's decision confirms almost verbatim his original argument in a series of editorials dating from August of 2009. He has been correct on this matter consistently, and recently laid out on how and why ObamaCare will get struck down in the U.S. Supreme Court. From his release:

The Court has made clear that it will vindicate federalism against encroachment by either the federal government or the state. [It] has consistently held that there must be some areas of life, even where there may be some remote economic impact, that constitutionally remain within the States’ regulatory authority alone.

» Governor Bob McDonnell issued this statement:

I am pleased by today’s decision. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has correctly determined that the Commerce Clause provides no constitutional basis for a mandate that citizens must purchase a specific commercial product or face a penalty. The individual mandate provision . . . represents an unprecedented expansion of federal authority. In issuing their ruling, the court's majority wrote that, "the individual mandate was enacted as a regulatory penalty, not a revenue-raising tax, and cannot be sustained as an exercise of Congress's power under the Taxing and Spending Clause." It is clearly in direct contrast to the limited powers granted to our national government by the Constitution.

The decision by the 11th Circuit is similar to the prior district court ruling on Virginia's challenge to the federal healthcare law. ... this issue must be heard in an expedited manner by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Department of Justice has resisted all prior requests to fast track this issue to the nation's highest court. That is disappointing and I again urge the Department of Justice to call for expedited review. This law will impact every American. Regardless of where one stands on the policy and constitutional questions at hand, all should at least be able to agree on the need for certainty, finality and uniform application of the law throughout the country.

» Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued this statement:

I am pleased that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found the individual insurance mandate and penalty unconstitutional. The court determined that the power to force one citizen to purchase a good or service from another is outside the established outer limits of both the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. The court also ruled that although the president and Congress want to now call the penalty a tax to make it pass constitutional muster, the penalty cannot be sustained under the federal government's taxing authority because the penalty is clearly not a tax.

I congratulate our fellow attorneys general in this major victory, and although this court is not in our circuit, I am pleased that the judges ruled in favor of the two key arguments that are present in our Virginia suit.

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Tomorrow Morning On DOMA, TFF Allies To Testify, Attend If Possible

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow morning to discuss S.598 — a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (read the bill here). Approved in 1996 by 84 percent of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and protects states such as Virginia from being forced to accept another state's recognition of same-sex marriages. Both the House and the Senate have introduced bills to repeal DOMA and President Obama has called DOMA unconstitutional. His Justice Department decided, in the middle of the legal process, to stop defending DOMA in court, a radical shirking of constitutional responsibility to defend the laws of the country when challenged. The defeat of these repeal DOMA bills are crucial to the stability of God-ordained, traditional marriage as the bedrock of our society.

Several excellent scholars will testify in favor of keeping DOMA, all allies all of The Family Foundation: Tom Minnery (executive director of CitizenLink), Austin Nimocks (senior legal counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, see excellent blog post on marriage, here), and Edward Whelan (president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, see the written testimony he will present tomorrow). If you live in Northern Virginia, and if it is at all possible, please attend the hearing tomorrow morning to show your support for DOMA. Because of the anticipated size of the crowd, the hearing has been moved from the Dirksen Senate Office Building to room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. Although the hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. attendees need to be in line no later than 8:00 to get a sea. We ask those who cannot that you keep Tom, Austin and Edward in your prayers as they defend for us the definition of marriage. (The proceedings may very well end up on C-SPAN and/or archived its web site.)

Despite Survey, Freedom Isn't Very Free For Virginia Parents

As we celebrated the birth of our nation over the weekend, a George Mason University Mercatus Center study pronounced Virginia the "ninth" freest state in the nation (Richmond Times-Dispatch). Taking into consideration tax rates, criminal law, education and several other factors, the study proclaimed Virginia the freest state in the South. Juxtaposed to this study is an editorial in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal that announced 2011 as “the year of school choice.” According to The Journal, "No fewer than 13 states have enacted school choice legislation in 2011." From Florida to Maine to Utah, state legislatures have enacted policies that advance the cause of freedom for parents of school children.

The piece goes on to say:

School choice proponents may have had their biggest success in Indiana, where Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed legislation that removes the charter cap, allows all universities to be charter authorizers, and creates a voucher program that enables about half the state's students to attend public or private schools.

Unfortunately, Virginia is not one of the states that has advanced in the area of education freedom. In a state where its politicians tout its business-friendly environment seemingly on a daily basis, parents are unfortunately left with little or no option when it comes to where they can send their children for their education. Unless financially able, most parents lack the freedom to choose the school that best meets their children's needs.

While many other states recognize the advantages of education freedom and its benefits for both families and our economy, Virginia remains stuck in the past, bowing to education elites and failing to live up to its perception of liberty. Unfortunately, this is not just a partisan issue, as some Republicans who wouldn't dare vote against anything that would hinder business in Virginia are all too happy to vote against freeing families from education purgatory, joining Democrats who have blocked even the most modest education freedom legislation for years. All seem fearful of the Virginia Education Association, the state chapter of the powerful National Education Association, which just endorsed President Obama in his 2012 presidential bid despite his Republican opponent not yet being chosen. The VEA leads the opposition to Virginia educational freedom and many elected officials in Virginia march in lock step with the VEA.

The Family Foundation has fought for education freedom since its early days and will continue to do so. Providing families with multiple education options for their children remains one of our highest priorities. Virginia’s ranking as a "free" state would be more believable if parents were actually free.

The President Wants A Raise For Government While The Rest Of Us Cut Back

Let's say the president or owner of a company hires someone specifically to take charge of the company's budget. He promptly spends all the money in the budget on many things not necessary to the core of the company's business. Heck, in fact, let's just say he didn't even draw up a budget, but spent the money as it came in. Then, needing more money to meet the company's actual obligations, he goes out and borrows money — no problem, right? After all, he has revenue coming in each day as customers pay for the company's products and services. He can at least pay off the interest with that money. But then something happens. The company's creditors call (not all of whom have your best interest at heart) and tell him that the company's reached its limit. Follow me, so far? Now, he has no more options. He's run up so much debt, interest payments are the largest item in the budget he's never quite written and the only option left is to ask the boss for more money. Perhaps raise the prices on the company's products and services, even though if he does that, he'll dry up the customer base and end up with less revenue and have to lay-off employees.

Ring a bell? Substitute Barack Obama and the liberals in Congress for the employee and the taxpayers for the boss. They've blown through all the money we've given them — and more — while not even passing a budget for two years. They borrowed and borrowed and can't borrow anymore. So, now, they want, in effect, a raise from us! "Fork over more dough, boss, we're not done yet!"

Oh, yes, they are! The massive, incomprehensible debt rung up the last two years (piled on to a pretty large starting block, granted) threatens our country with a pending, Greece-like economic chaos and/or the further sucking up of hard-earned income to the federal spending machine. It puts at risk the well-being of each and every working family.

Limiting the role, scope and activity of the federal government is the only proven way to solve the impending economic meltdown — not only from a fiscal standpoint, but from fostering the liberty and freedom that encourages job creation. Has anyone ever heard of a corresponding relation to mammoth government and freedom? Mammoth government and economic prosperity? No. It's quite obvious, from history, that the larger government grows, the less liberty a country has; and less liberty means less prosperity.

If our fictional company budget chief were to spend the company silly, then go back and ask for a raise, which is, in essence, what the president is insisting on with his demands for tax increases, how long do you think it would be before the big boss sent him packing? Two years? Okay, right away. But remember. We're the boss. We hired these guys. Our next board meeting is November 2012.

Is Public Prayer Unconstitutional?

As if the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals isn't busy enough this week. Not only will it decide on ObamaCare, it got the above question, too, in a case in which The Family Foundation filed an amicus brief last year. Now asked, another three judge panel will decide the constitutionality of the prayer policy of the Forsyth County, N.C. — but with national implications. The policy, drafted by the Alliance Defense Fund, allows for anyone of any faith to pray before county government meetings on a first come, first serve basis. The content of the prayers are not reviewed by government officials. Plaintiffs represented by the ACLU contend that, because most of the "prayers" at the meetings over an eighteen month period were "sectarian," the policy is unconstitutional. According to ADF attorneys, plaintiffs have argued in briefs that any prayer before public meetings is unconstitutional.

Judges Harvie Wilkinson, Paul Niemeyer and Barbara Keenan comprise the panel. If their questioning of attorneys arguing the case is any indication of where they stand on the issue, Judge Keenan is clearly in the ACLU camp. Appointed to the court by President Obama, she was particularly hostile toward ADF's arguments and clearly favored the idea of "inclusive" prayers if there were going to be any prayers at all. Judge Niemeyer appeared much more favorable toward public prayer, stating that prayers without mentioning a specific deity are "just words." Judge Wilkinson seemed like the swing vote, questioning both sides on multiple issues throughout the hour and ten minute hearing.

The details of this case date back to March 2007 when the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit against North Carolina's Forsyth County Board of Supervisors, stating:

[the Board] does not have a policy which discourages or prohibits those whom [the Board] has invited to deliver prayers from including references to Jesus Christ, or any other sectarian deity, as part of their prayers.

As ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson, who argued in favor of the policy, aptly pointed out, "An invocation according to the dictates of the giver's conscience is not an establishment of religion. If it was, you'd have to argue that the drafters of the U.S. Constitution were violating the Constitution in the prayers and invocations that they themselves offered." (Mike Johnson testified, at Family Foundation request during the 2009 General Assembly, on behalf of the rights of state police chaplains to pray in Jesus' name. See video.)

A primary issue in the case is whether or not a voluntary prayer before a government meeting is "government" or private speech. If private, it is clearly protected by the First Amendment. But by the ACLU's logic, anything said at a government meeting by a private individual is government speech just by virtue of saying at that meeting.

Several Virginia legislators also signed on to an amicus brief in support of religious liberty in Joyner v. Forsyth County. They include Delegates Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg), Bill Carrico (R-5, Galax), Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), and Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown); and Senators Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27, Winchester).

Despite Atheists' Efforts, National Day Of Prayer Celebrations Go On Stronger Than Ever

Thursday, May 5, is the 60th annual National Day of Prayer observance. This year's theme comes from from Psalm 91: "A Mighty Fortress is our God." Earlier this month, in a case in which The Family Foundation filed an amicus brief, the Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the right of Americans (see Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Christianity Today) to continue this observation of God's involvement in "the affairs of men," as Benjamin Franklin so aptly put it at the Constitutional Convention more than 220 years ago. A nefarious group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed the suit.

In 1952, President Harry Truman signed into law a declaration that every president must proclaim a National Day of Prayer on the day of his choosing. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan took President Truman's declaration one step further and set the first Thursday of May as the official National Day of Prayer. Since then, Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have marked the day with a White House observance and all presidents have issued commemorative proclamations. Many years, a special prayer service is held in the East Room.

At noon on May 5, many localities around Virginia and the nation will hold observances with state and local officials, pastors and ministry leaders. Click here to find an observance in your area at the National Day of Prayer's web site. Please be careful to note the specific details and locations of each event. Also, many churches are open for prayer services at noon and throughout the day. You may also click here to learn more about the 7 x 7 Campaign to pray for the seven centers of power in our country seven days a week.

If you cannot attend an observance, please consider taking some time out of your day to specifically pray for our nation, President Obama, Governor McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bolling, Attorney General Cuccinelli, U.S. Senators Warner and Webb, your congressman, your state senator and delegate, as well your local elected leaders. Each of these people has a powerful effect on the lives of Virginians.