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On Watch in Washington November 14, 2012

On Watch in Washington November 14, 2012  in PDF Format

Dear Partner in Prayer,

Post Election 2012:  Why didn’t our prayers work?

I have heard that expressed through sobs, through exhausted words, through angry emails, through difficult conversations.  I have to admit I shared these thoughts and emotions.

As you struggle with the variety of emotions you are experiencing through the election, I am asking you to take the time to read this entire piece.  I normally just assume some will read what I write, and some won’t.  I usually am fine with that, but I think that it is critical for us to be on the same page at this hour.

With that said, here are the facts:

  1. There was more prayer in the 40 days leading up to the election than in most people’s recent memory.  I was on one prayer call that logged 120,000+ minutes of individual prayer in the 24 hours of Election Day! It was amazing.
  2. Eight days before the election Romney had all the momentum and most political analysts felt he had the lead.  He simply needed to coast over the finish line.
  3. Seven days before the election the first hurricane in nearly 100 years to hit the Northeast smashed record lows of barometric pressure (indicating strength), record high storm surge, and record amounts of snow fall hundreds of miles in land.  This storm diverted the entire media for days.
  4. The momentum of the election changed, and Romney lost.

One has to ask the Lord, why the timing of such a catastrophic storm?  Was this an answer to all of the prayer?

What if it were?  First of all, I am not convinced it was, but the timing begs us to ask God.  Was God protecting us from a Romney Presidency?  Or, was God putting the American population in a place where we are likely to experience more difficult times ahead and along with more ungodly laws passed through an administration that has a track record to accomplish that?

If this storm was answered prayer (again I am not convinced that it was), causing the momentum of the election to turn, exposing America to years of more difficult times, could the Church become more desperate for God to move in this land?

I have already written about the fact that there were millions less Christians who did not vote in this election compared to 2012.  Despite what this country went through during the last four years, the Church was less engaged in this election than in 2008.

So, if it is God’s ultimate desire to see his Church, the Bride, desperate for his revival Presence rather than a different man sitting in an office, he might have accomplished that.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just trying to look at the positive side, but would you join me in asking the Lord what his message is to the Church at this hour?

Still others are tempted to conclude that our prayers didn’t matter at all, because “God is in control – he is going to do what he wants – we don’t have anything to do with the outcome of this nation.”

I challenge the theology of this question.  Does 2 Chronicles 7:14 say, “if my people who are called by my name…then I MAY CHOOSE to heal their land.”  Or does it say, “then I WILL heal their land”?  Some cite Jeremiah 15 when God says that even the prayers of Moses and Abraham wouldn’t help.  But it is the same God in chapter 16 that say “if they repent, I will relent.” (Jer 18:7-10).

Again, I don’t know, maybe I’m just trying to look at the positive side, but would you join me in asking the Lord what his message is to the Church at this hour?  Meditate on scriptures like 2 Chronicles 7:14, Jeremiah 18:7-10, Hosea 14:2-6 and then let me know.

There is a place for you to share your thoughts with me and others through the poll at the following link.


In His Service,

Dave Kubal, President and CEO of Intercessors for America

 

 

ON THE EDGE OF A BRUTAL “FISCAL CLIFF”

Two years ago this month, the leaders of a presidential commission rolled out a startling plan to dig the nation out of debt. After decades of profligacy, they said, Washington must tell people to work longer, pay higher taxes and expect less in retirement.

Lawmakers recoiled from the blunt prescriptions of Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan K. Simpson. But their plan has since been heralded by both parties as a model of clear-eyed sacrifice, and policymakers say the moment has come to live up to its promise.

When Congress returns to Washington on Tuesday, the most urgent task facing Obama and congressional leaders will be avoiding the year-end “fiscal cliff,” a towering accumulation of $500 billion in budget cuts and expiring tax breaks that would abruptly reduce government borrowing but could trigger a new recession.

In the past, policymakers have handled such moments by delaying the pain and giving themselves new deadlines for getting the budget under control. Now, however, the national debt is larger, as a percentage of the economy, than at any time in U.S. history except for the period after World War II — and it’s rising rapidly. Avoiding hard decisions could have grave consequences, analysts say, potentially undermining the U.S. economic recovery and the world’s confidence in American leadership.

“I think this is the magic moment,” said Bowles, a veteran negotiator who served as chief of staff in the Clinton White House. “They’ve got to compromise. And I think if you listen carefully to what all the politicians are saying, there’s room to get something done.”

Few expect Washington to replicate the scope of the Bowles-Simpson plan. Though it is widely praised, its $4 trillion in 10-year savings includes major changes to Social Security opposed by liberals and an aggressive new tax code that would generate far more revenue than most conservatives could stomach.

What Going Over the Fiscal Cliff would mean…

Last week, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) publicly urged Obama to return to a less ambitious framework drafted in secret during the summer of 2011, when the two men came tantalizingly close to compromise. That blueprint would save about $2 trillion, on top of $1.3 trillion in agency cuts already in force.

About half the new savings would come from reversing part of the massive tax cuts that, along with the collapse of tax collections during the recent recession, are a major cause of current budget problems. The rest would come from lower spending, including on Social Security and Medicare, forecast to be the biggest drivers of future borrowing.

The 2011 talks collapsed when Obama asked for more revenue and Boehner, facing a conservative insurrection over taxes, abruptly called the deal off. The obstacles are similar now: Republicans are still talking vaguely about raising money through economic growth rather than higher taxes, and key Democrats are arguing that Obama’s reelection victory entitles them to resist cuts to retirement benefits while demanding even more in new taxes.

Still, as they prepare to launch a fresh round of talks Friday at the White House, Boehner and Obama both have delivered nuanced public statements that seem to leave the door open to the historic “grand bargain” both men are said to desire.

Boehner’s offer last week to raise revenue through tax reform “was a positive sign,” Obama senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

While Obama is demanding higher taxes on the wealthy and Boehner is resisting an increase in the top tax rate, Axelrod said, “obviously, there’s money to be gained by closing some of these loopholes and applying them to deficit reduction. So I think there are a lot of ways to skin this cat so long as everybody comes with a positive, constructive attitude toward the task.”

Lawmakers streaming into town for the first time since September are nervously expectant. For two years, the debate over the debt has paralyzed the Capitol. Now policymakers face a particularly brutal decision point.

The fiscal cliff amounts to the largest one-year dose of government austerity since 1968, when Congress raised taxes and was blamed for triggering a recession. Without preventive action, the United States will go on a debt-fighting diet comparable to those recently undertaken in Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. Simply delaying the pain is not an option, economists say.

“We would be stepping into an economic netherworld of slow growth and high unemployment that would leave us very vulnerable to anything else that goes wrong,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “The window is as far open as it’s ever going to be. It’s the president’s second term. He’s got to go through it.”

The cliff was not constructed intentionally, but it was no accident, either. For decades, Washington has been postponing tough decisions about taxes and spending. The result: dozens of temporary provisions that are forever expiring. This year, they all happen to come due Dec. 31.

Take the Medicare sustainable growth rate, or SGR. Enacted as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, the SGR was designed to make sure payments to providers grew no faster than the overall economy. But doctors screamed when the formula required cuts in 2002, and Congress has since passed legislation, known as the “doc fix,” to temporarily override the SGR.

Because Congress has not changed the underlying formula, the payment cut gets bigger and the doc fix gets more expensive with each passing year. In January, Medicare providers face a payment cut of 27 percent unless lawmakers come up with $18 billion to override the formula for another year.

The cliff is packed with such quandaries. On the tax side, most date to the start of the George W. Bush administration, when the budget was in surplus and the nation was paying down its debt for the first time in a generation. Bush took office on a promise to return the surplus to the taxpayers.

The Bush tax cuts were so big and far-reaching their effects rippled through the code. Suddenly, millions of people’s tax bills were so low they were in danger of being forced into an expensive parallel system known as the alternative minimum tax, or AMT. So that had to be patched, too.

The latest AMT patch expired last December, and unless Congress acts, 26 million people will have an extra $3,700, on average, tacked onto their 2012 tax bills. The cost of patching the AMT for 2012: $92 billion.

The Bush tax cuts are also temporary. To avoid increasing deficits far into the future, lawmakers designed them to expire in 2010. Obama extended them for another two years, piling on a temporary payroll tax holiday to boost the sluggish recovery. That also expires in December.

All told, expiring tax breaks account for nearly four-fifths of the $500 billion the cliff is projected to suck out of the economy between January and September. Automatic budget cuts, known as the sequester, are almost an afterthought. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, they amount to $65 billion in the fiscal year that ends in September, evenly split between the Pentagon and domestic programs.

Because Republicans have so far insisted on taming the debt through spending cuts rather than tax increases, the sequester was essential to winning GOP support for legislation to increase the nation’s debt limit after the Obama-Boehner talks broke down in 2011. The threat of across-the-board cuts was supposed to force a special congressional “supercommittee” to come up with a more reasonable way to save money. But the supercommittee disbanded in failure last November.

Many Republicans say Obama’s victory will serve to break the stalemate. With his post-election speech, Boehner essentially offered to reverse three decades of GOP orthodoxy on taxes.

“The movement on the part of the GOP to say that revenues are part of this mix is significant,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who as chief deputy whip will be responsible for rounding up votes. “Obama can take his victory lap on more revenue. Let’s give the GOP a victory lap on keeping rates low and call it a win.”

In return for their concession, however, Republicans say they will demand structural changes to retirement programs on the order of those Obama offered in 2011, including raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67 and applying a stingier measure of inflation to Social Security.

Those ideas are “very constructive,” said Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), an anti-tax conservative who served on the supercommittee. “The problem is big government programs are growing faster than the economy. It doesn’t matter what you do on the tax side if you have spending consuming ever more of our economy with no end in sight.”

Democrats oppose cutting benefits. But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Obama they would support the secret deal in 2011. If he leads them there now, they are likely to follow.

“We’ve been resisting the obvious for the past two years,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a liberal who advocates compromise. “And the obvious is: There’s no grand bargain that will not cause political pain for all of us.” [Graph sources: Sources: Moody’s Analytics, Tax Policy Center. By Bonnie Berokowitz, Karen Yourish and Laura Stanton – The Washington Post. Published on November 11, 2012, 5:24 p.m.] (Contributor: By Lori Montgomery for The Washington Post)

Pray that those in U.S. leadership who are the most influential in financial policy arbitration be given God’s wisdom in resolving this “fiscal cliff” dilemma with reasonable resolution. Pray that American enterprise will be creative in developing new jobs with adequate pay for its employees.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you any food?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.” (John 21:5-6)

CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN “BRUISING DAY”

Conservative Christians are not hiding their disappointment in the outcome of the 2012 election. Not only did the candidates that they supported not win but they also saw losses in the marriage and pro-life battles.

“On every level – presidential, congressional, social – it was a bruising day for our movement that no amount of spin can improve,” wrote Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, in an email to supporters. “Americans had a choice, and they made it. Is the outcome what we want? Obviously not.”

GOP candidate Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to Obama after losing most key battleground states, including Ohio. Obama surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term and also won the popular vote.

Conservative Christians are concerned that Obama will continue his pro-abortion and pro-gay actions over the next four years. They also fear more violation of their religious liberty, particularly through the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate. They had hoped for a repeal of Obamacare through a Romney administration.

“This was supposed to be the morning when Americans got up and shook off the nightmare of the last four years. Instead, they awakened to a new one: a profound drubbing of the Republican Party that is supposed to be the guardian of the conservative vision our nation so desperately needs,” said Perkins.

Some of the other losses for conservatives Tuesday include Floridians rejecting a ban on taxpayer-funded abortion and the legalization of marijuana in two states.

Traditional marriage supporters also suffered a big blow Tuesday after all four states – Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington State – that had ballot initiatives on same-sex marriage voted in favor of gay marriage. Previously, each time marriage was on the ballot, voters had chosen to protect the traditional definition of it.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, admitted to feeling disappointed but did not concede defeat.

“Obviously last night did not go the way that we had hoped, prayed and worked so hard to accomplish,” he wrote to supporters. “Our endorsed candidate for president, Mitt Romney, came close but did not cross the finish line. We are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles on marriage by narrow margins.

“But make no mistake: we are disappointed, but we are not defeated! We are fighting for a true and just cause – God’s institution of marriage.”

Despite the perfect record traditional marriage supporters had – where Americans in 32 states voted overwhelmingly to protect marriage as between a man and woman – going into Tuesday’s election, they knew they had an uphill battle this year as marriage was up for a vote in the “deepest-blue states,” Brown noted. Additionally, they were heavily outspent by gay marriage advocates.

“Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” said Brown. “The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.”

Tony Perkins also noted that the gay marriage movement was likely helped by Obama, who announced his support in May for same-sex couples marrying. He also endorsed three of the gay marriage ballot initiatives.

“[W]hile homosexuals may be celebrating an end to our movement’s perfect record, they still have a long way to go to match the 32 states where Americans voted overwhelmingly to protect the union of a man and woman,” said Perkins. “And that includes North Carolina, where Obama’s endorsement of same-sex ‘marriage’ likely cost him the state’s electoral votes.”

The FRC head is confident that voters will see the consequences of their pro-gay marriage votes and reconsider their positions as many are doing on the abortion issue, 40 years after Roe v. Wade.

“Forty years after Roe v. Wade, the nation is more pro-life, and the abortion issue is far from settled. As with same-sex ‘marriage,’ the Left can make it legal, but they can never make it right.”

Despite the major setback, conservative Christians are determined to get back up.

“Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it,” said Brown. “Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback.”

Perkins concluded his post-election email this way: “In two years, there will be a political opportunity to embolden and provide allies for these who stand for life, marriage, religious liberty, and limited government.

“Until then, our mission is as critical as ever. It’s time to get up, dust ourselves off, and trust in God’s ability to work in dire situations … We do not serve victory; we serve God. And to Him, in these anxious times, we turn.” (Contributor: By Lillian Kwon for the Christian Post)

Pray for God’s will to become the heart of our national leaders’ thinking. Pray that the Lord’s authority will redeem that which needs amending. Pray for righteous administration of virtuous and moral laws throughout the land.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”  (Ephesians 1:7)

 

GREEN LIGHT ON UN GUN GRAB

A story ran on the Oklahoma City NBC news affiliate on Wednesday reporting that “sporting goods stores in the Sooner state are seeing a spike in gun sales following Obama’s re-election.”

Similar reports ran nationwide after Obama was elected the first time in 2008.

While many accused those making a run on gun stores of reacting rashly, there may be some wisdom in this latest sales spike.

Reuters reports that within hours of his securing his reelection, Obama ordered the U.S. United Nations delegation to vote in favor of a UN proposal to fast track an international gun control treaty.

Immediately the word went out that the United States was going to play ball (after having scuttled the last round of talks on the Arms Trade Treaty in July), and a new round of negotiations on the treaty was scheduled for March 18-28 at the UN headquarters in New York City.

A press release was sent out early Wednesday morning from the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee proclaiming the good news of Obama’s go-ahead for the gun grab and setting the agenda for the next gun control conference:

Also kindling discussion among delegations was a draft resolution aimed at building on the progress made towards the adoption of a strong, balanced and effective arms trade treaty. That text would decide to convene the “Final United Nations Conference” for the creation of such a treaty in March 2013.

Also by that resolution, the draft text of the treaty submitted by the Conference’s president on 26 July would be the basis for future work, without prejudice to the right of delegations to put forward additional proposals on that text. The Committee approved the resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to none against, with 18 abstentions.

No member, not even the United States, opposed the convening of a “Final United Nations Conference” for the establishment of a treaty imposing worldwide gun control regulations.

In July, 51 senators sent a letter to Obama and Hillary Clinton encouraging them to “not only to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, but to ensure — if necessary, by breaking consensus at the July conference — that the treaty will explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful activities associated with firearms, including but not limited to the right of self-defense.”

The failure to pass an acceptable version of the treaty in July is in Obama’s rearview mirror, however, as Reuters reports that “adoption of a strong, balanced and effective Arms Trade Treaty” could be imminent.

Reuters quotes Brian Wood of Amnesty International: After today’s resounding vote, if the larger arms trading countries show real political will in the negotiations, we’re only months away from securing a new global deal that has the potential to stop weapons reaching those who seriously abuse human rights.

The definition of an “abuse” of “human rights” will be left up to a coterie of internationalist bureaucrats who will be neither accountable to nor elected by citizens of the United States.

With good reason, then, gun rights advocates oppose approval of this treaty.

After all, it does seem more than a little incongruous that a nation that places such a high value on gun ownership that it enshrined it in its Bill of Rights participates in an organization that opposes gun ownership so staunchly that it has an Office for Disarmament Affairs. An office, by the way, that the U.S. Deputy Director, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Steven Costner, proudly announced would be moving from Geneva to New York City.

Lest anyone believe the U.S. delegation official’s promise to Reuters that “we will not accept any treaty that infringes on the constitutional rights of our citizens to bear arms,” consider the fact that a report issued after the conclusion of the last Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) conference in July listed the goal of the agreement to be UN control of the “manufacture, control, trafficking, circulation, brokering and trade, as well as tracing, finance, collection and destruction of small arms and light weapons.”

That is a very comprehensive attack on “all aspects” of gun trade and ownership. Notably, the phrase “in all aspects” occurs 38 times in the draft of the ATT.

Particulars of the proposed treaty are set out on the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs website. Information presented there reveals that the international government-in-waiting wants to start by taking away weapons from “insurgents, armed gang members, pirates, and terrorists.”

Again, key definitions are left out of the document and others inexplicably and inexcusably ill-defined. Within the penumbras of these cleverly crafted provisions are found lurking the tools of tyranny. Wrenches that one day could force anyone branded as an enemy into a predetermined “terrorist” slot.

A question that must be considered is what the UN will consider “adequate laws.” Will the globalists at the UN consider the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms without infringement to be a sufficient control on gun ownership?

The effort at eradication of private gun ownership is more insidious than it appears, however. On page 25 of the 1997 UN Secretary General’s Report on Criminal Justice Reform and Strengthening Legal Institutions Measure to Regulate Firearms  (of which the United States was a signatory) a part of the regulations that we agreed to impose is a psychological test before one is allowed to purchase ammunition.

Apparently, the UN recognizes that without ammunition a gun is no more than a club, so in order to effectively disarm a population, the UN does not need to seize all the weapons; it merely has to prevent purchase of ammunition.

How does the ATT (and the Programme of Action that undergirds it) propose to enforce this anti-gun agenda?

Section III, Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Programme of Action mandate that if a member state cannot get rid of privately-owned small arms legislatively, then the control of “customs, police, intelligence, and arms control” will be placed under the power of a board of UN bureaucrats operating out of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.

This provision includes the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in a member state to seize and destroy “weapons stockpiles.”

Again, no definition of stockpile, but by that time it will be too late to make that argument.

In order to assist these blue-helmets and their disarmament overlords in their search and seizure of this ammunition, Section III, Paragraph 10 mandates that member states develop technology to improve the UN’s ability to detect stockpiles of ammo and arms.

This brings to mind the imminent deployment by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of portable invisible lasers developed by Genia Laboratories (a company created by CIA offshoot In-Q-Tel) that can detect even trace amounts of gun powder from over 50 yards away. The laser reportedly can penetrate walls, glass, and metal. DHS is scheduled to take possession of the devices later this month, according to testimony presented on Capitol Hill late last year.

History is instructive on this point as one recalls that the “shot heard ’round the world” on Lexington Green was fired because King George sent British troops to seize the ammunition stockpile stored outside of Lexington.

A late night call from newly reelected Obama to the UN has awakened Americans’ opposition to this latest attempt to abrogate the rights protected by the Second Amendment. It was a different late night call that roused sleepy colonists in defense of their right to bear arms, as well. This time, however, it is not the British who are coming for our guns and ammunition, but it is the United Nations and representatives of our own federal government. (Contributor: Written by  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D. for The New American)

Pray for the protection of U.S. sovereign Constitutional rights over world centric laws that have no authority over our Constitutional amendments.

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse that an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

 

RISING NUMBER OF STATES WITH ONE-PARTY RULE

Divided government still rules in the nation’s capital after Tuesday’s vote, but unity is increasingly the name of the game in Annapolis, Topeka, Concord, Little Rock and other capital cities.

In a little-noticed footnote to the elections, votes to fill legislative seats produced the highest number of states with one-party rule in 60 years. Democrats or Republicans now have sole control of the governorship and both legislative chambers in 37 state capitals.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks party representation in the country’s 50 state governments, Democrats now control all three bases of power — the governorship and both houses of the state legislature — in 14 states and Republicans in 23, with only 12 states sharing power. Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is considered nonpartisan.

Regional power bases also are emerging, with Democrats increasingly dominating state governments in New England.

Conversely, the GOP for the first time since 1872 now will control the Arkansas House and Senate. Just 20 years ago, Republicans didn’t have a majority in a single legislative house in the states of the old Confederacy; now they will control all 11.

The number of states with divided government is down from 31 just 16 years ago to 12 today, prompting speculation about the country’s evolving partisan geography.

“I think it is a reflection of a growing ‘sorting-out’ of our population — where people live — and our politics,” said Karl Kurtz, a political scientist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “They tend to go all the same way for governor, for legislator and — for that matter — for president.”

Bill Bishop, author of the book “The Big Sort” about the growing polarization of American politics, said, “There are more states that have tipped either increasingly Republican or Democratic over time. Even in close elections you have a majority of voters who live in counties where the election wasn’t close at all. The world they see at their doorstep is different than the rest of the country.”

With state legislatures often seen by the parties as the “farm team” for recruiting national candidates, Republican and Democratic Party officials were trying to spin the results of last week’s voting in their favor. Republicans scored stunning state-level gains in the 2010 wave, which also brought them control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This year, the results were far more mixed.

Democrats reclaimed majorities they had lost in 2010 in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the Minnesota House and Senate. They also took control of the Colorado House, the Oregon House, the Maine House and Senate and the New York Senate, for a total of eight pickups.

In addition to the Arkansas sweep, Republicans could point to only one other pickup, but it was a satisfying one: the Wisconsin state Senate, where Democrats held a brief majority as a result of a number of recall elections this summer. GOP officials said the final tally was not as bad as it could have been, considering the defeat of Mitt Romney and the party’s weak showing in U.S. Senate races.

“Clearly, [Election Day] was not what Republicans were hoping for, but we remain encouraged by the successes seen at the state level across the country,” Republican State Leadership Committee President Chris Jankowski said in a statement as the final returns were rolling in.

“One thing remains clear — Republicans are the dominant party in the states holding a majority of state legislatures, governorships, lieutenant governorships, secretaries of state and half of the nation’s attorneys general.”

In one bright note for Republicans, the party added one net governorship to its total, with 30 GOP governors nationwide to 19 Democrats. Rhode Island’s governor is an independent.

But Michael Sargeant, Mr. Jankowski’s counterpart at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, noted that in addition to flipping eight state legislative bodies, Democrats gained seats in 40 chambers overall and obtained veto-proof supermajorities in California and Illinois.

“From Maine to Hawaii, Democratic candidates simply did a better job talking to voters and addressing issues that are important to working families,” said Mr. Sargeant, noting that Republicans had been projecting net gains at the state level going into the election.

One-party dominance can have direct policy consequences. States such as Florida and Pennsylvania with GOP dominance of the governorship and state legislature have been at the forefront of efforts to impose more stringent voter-ID laws in recent years, while states where Democrats dominate, such as Maryland and Massachusetts, have led the way on legalizing gay marriage.

Party ticket loyalty at the state level could be a trickle-down effect from Washington’s increasingly partisan politics, observers say. But governing as a state legislator is very different from working at the federal level, said Tim Storey, elections analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“At a time when D.C. is frozen and in gridlock, legislators have to get stuff done. They have to balance their budget, and to do that they have to compromise. [Partisan division] may be how voters vote, but it’s not how legislators legislate,” Mr. Storey said.

Mr. Storey pointed to states such as Oregon, where the legislature had a productive year despite a House where the parties were tied and a closely divided Senate.

“For the most part, these folks are hard-wired to get stuff done,” he said. “What happens to them from the time they leave their state capital to the time they get to Washington mystifies us.” (Contributor:  By Keely Brazil for the The Washington Times)

Pray that regardless of party affiliation, the true needs of American citizens will be addressed in an equitable manner. Leaders are elected to serve the public that elected them. Pray that justice and fair distribution of service be made for all.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)

 

OBAMACARE IS STILL VULNERABLE

Obama has won reelection, and his administration has asked state officials to decide by Friday, November 16, whether their state will create one of Obamacare’s health-insurance “exchanges.” States also have to decide whether to implement the law’s massive expansion of Medicaid. The correct answer to both questions remains a resounding no.

State-created exchanges mean higher taxes, fewer jobs, and less protection of religious freedom. States are better off defaulting to a federal exchange. The Medicaid expansion is likewise too costly and risky a proposition. Republican Governors Association chairman Bob McDonnell (R.,Va.) agrees, and has announced that Virginia will implement neither provision.

There are many arguments against creating exchanges.

  • First, states are under no obligation to create one.
  • Second, operating an Obamacare exchange would be illegal in 14 states. Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia have enacted either statutes or constitutional amendments (or both) forbidding state employees to participate in an essential exchange function: implementing Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.
  • Third, each exchange would cost its state an estimated $10 million to $100 million per year, necessitating tax increases.
  • Fourth, the November 16 deadline is no more real than the “deadlines” for implementing REAL ID, which have been pushed back repeatedly since 2008.
  • Fifth, states can always create an exchange later if they choose.
  • Sixth, a state-created exchange is not a state-controlled exchange. All exchanges will be controlled by Washington.
  • Seventh, Congress authorized no funds for federal “fallback” exchanges. So Washington may not be able to impose Exchanges on states at all.
  • Eighth, the Obama administration has yet to provide crucial information that states need before they can make an informed decision.
  • Ninth, creating an exchange sets state officials up to take the blame when Obamacare increases insurance premiums and denies care to the sick. State officials won’t want their names on this disastrous mess.
  • Tenth, creating an exchange would be assisting in the creation of a “public option” that would drive domestic health-insurance carriers out of business through unfair competition.
  • Eleventh, Obamacare remains unpopular. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that only 38 percent of the public supports it.
  • Twelfth, defaulting to a federal exchange exempts a state’s employers from the employer mandate — a tax of $2,000 per worker per year (the tax applies to companies with more than 59 employees, but for such companies that tax applies after the 30th employee, not the 59th). If all states did so, that would exempt 18 million Americans from the individual mandate’s tax of $2,085 per family of four. Avoiding those taxes improves a state’s prospects for job creation, and protects the conscience rights of employers and individuals whom the Obama administration is forcing to purchase contraceptives coverage.
  • Finally, rejecting an exchange reduces the federal deficit. Obamacare offers its deficit-financed subsidies to private health insurers only through state-created exchanges. If all states declined, federal deficits would fall by roughly $700 billion over ten years.

For similar reasons, states should decline to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court gave states that option. All states should exercise it.

Medicaid is rife with waste and fraud. It increases the cost of private health care and insurance, crowds out private health insurance and long-term-care insurance, and discourages enrollees from climbing the economic ladder. There is scant reliable evidence that Medicaid improves health outcomes, and no evidence that it is a cost-effective way of doing so.

My colleague Jagadeesh Gokhale estimates that expanding Medicaid will cost individual states up to $53 billion over the first ten years. That’s before an emboldened Obama follows through on his threats to shift more Medicaid costs to states.

Neither the states nor the federal government have the money to expand Medicaid. If all states politely decline, federal deficits will shrink by another $900 billion.

Now is not the time to go wobbly. Obamacare is still harmful and still unpopular. The presidential election was hardly a referendum, as it pitted the first person to enact Obamacare against the second person to enact it. Since the election, many state officials are reaffirming their opposition to both implementing exchanges and expanding Medicaid.

If enough states do so, Congress will have no choice but to reopen Obamacare. With a GOP-controlled House, opponents will be in a much stronger position than they were when this harmful law was enacted. — Michael F. Cannon is director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute and co-editor of Replacing ObamaCare (Cato, 2012). (Contributor: By Michael F. Cannon for The National Review)

Pray that our state leaders will exercise good fiscal responsibility in monetary appropriations for state budgets. Pray that the Lord will minister His plan of financial wisdom and blessing upon each state’s leaders in the budget planning days ahead.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.'” (Luke 14:28-33)

 

GOV. BROWN: RESPECT THE NEW MARIJUANA LAWS

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said the federal government should let recently passed marijuana legalization laws stand in Colorado and Washington.

“It’s time for the Justice Department to recognize the sovereignty of the states,” Brown said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “I believe Obama and the Department of Justice ought to respect the will of these states.”

Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use through ballot measures last week.

But marijuana is still outlawed at the federal level, which likely foretells a legal battle over implementing the state laws.

Obama cracked down on medical marijuana producers after signaling during his 2008 campaign that he would permit that activity. Raids were frequent in California, where using marijuana for medical reasons has been permitted for years.

Against that background and the recently approved Colorado and Washington laws, Brown said the federal government “shouldn’t try to nullify reasonable state measures.” (Contributor: Written by Zack Colman for The Hill)

Righteous judicial decisions are needed by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding conflict with recently passed laws in the states of Colorado and Washington. Ask the Lord to give wisdom to those who are caught in the middle of state and federal law discord and contradiction. Pray that righteous wisdom will prevail.

“I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things” (Ecclesiastes 7:25a)

 

HAMAS/GAZA ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL

Gaza militants pummeled southern Israel with rockets for a third day in a row on Monday, increasing internal pressure on the Israeli government to retaliate.

A million Israelis are in range of the rockets. Israeli leaders have warned they won’t tolerate continued barrages and have threatened a more forceful response.

Six Palestinians have been killed in Israeli counterstrikes, Palestinians said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told foreign ambassadors that Israel would defend itself. He spoke during a visit to Ashkelon, a southern city that has been battered by Gaza rockets.

“I don’t know of any of your governments who could accept such a thing. I don’t know of any of the citizens of your cities, who could find that acceptable and something that could proceed on a normal basis. I think the whole world understands that this is not acceptable,” Netanyahu said, referring to the rocket attacks.

“We’ll take whatever action is necessary to put a stop to this. This is not merely our right, it’s also our duty,” he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with the military chief of staff and other senior officials Monday evening to determine how to respond to the rocket fire.

Some Israelis are demanding a military operation similar to Israel’s bruising incursion into Gaza four years ago. Others believe Israel should target Hamas leaders, a method it used to kill dozens of top militants nearly a decade ago.

Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said six Palestinians, including two members of the Islamic Jihad, have been killed and dozens injured in Israeli strikes since the latest fighting began over the weekend. The Israeli military said it struck rocket launcher squads and a weapons warehouse.

More than 110 rockets have hit Israeli towns since the latest round began, the military said.

At least a dozen rockets slammed into Israel Monday. One rocket hit a house, and another smashed into a factory on Monday, the military said. Three civilians were injured by shrapnel and dozens were treated for shock when rockets exploded in residential areas, Israel’s emergency rescue services said.

The latest round of violence began when Gaza militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli jeep patrolling on the Israeli side of the border on Saturday, wounding four soldiers.

An Egyptian official said that efforts are under way to try to achieve a truce. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. (Contributor: Fox News)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the surrounding countries bordering Israel. Intercede that Israeli leadership would be granted wisdom in their response to these acts of terror.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure.'” (Psalm 122:6)

 

U.S. PLANS $6.7B AIRCRAFT DEAL WITH SAUDI ARABIA       

Proposed sale of 20 C-130J-30 Super Hercules planes, five KC-130J would sustain Saudi Arabia’s ‘aging fleet’; Congress has 30 days to raise objections.

The United States plans a $6.7 billion sale of 20 C-130 cargo aircraft and five refueling planes to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon announced Friday, in a deal to be approved by Congress.

The multi-billion-dollar deal includes the cost of training, logistical support, parts and associated equipment for the aircraft, said a statement released by the Defense Department’s agency for foreign arms sales.

Notice of the deal was sent to Congress on Thursday, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said, noting the proposed sale of 20 C-130J-30 Super Hercules planes and five KC-130J aircraft – an extended-range tanker version of the C-130s – would sustain Saudi Arabia’s “ageing fleet.”

Congress has 30 days to raise objections; otherwise the deal will be concluded.

The statement said the sale would “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”

Riyadh has significantly increased its military spending in recent years and in 2010 signed a $60 billion arms deal with Washington, the kingdom’s biggest defense supplier.

And at the end of 2011, the two countries announced the signing of a $30 billion deal to provide Saudi Arabia with 84 new fighter jets, a move the United States said sent a “strong message” to the Gulf region.  (Contributor: YNET News Service)

Pray that if military aid and support are granted to Saudi Arabia, that Israel will receive equal or better support in order to protect its borders from aggressive nations that seek its destruction. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

“The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is the way you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and protect you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.'”‘ So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”  (Numbers 6:22-27)

 

ADDING PUERTO RICO TO STATEHOOD

A conservative activist for the English language doubts the U.S. House of Representatives is in the mood to admit Puerto Rico as America’s 51st state.

The last time Puerto Ricans voted on the issue was in 1998, when for a third time they decided to stay a commonwealth. But on Tuesday, the island’s voters finally approved a non-binding resolution calling for full statehood.

Kent, Phil (ProEnglish)Congress must ultimately approve Puerto Rico as the 51st state, and President Barack Obama has pledged to respect the will of the voters. But Phil Kent, a spokesman and board member of ProEnglish, does not think Republicans in the U.S. House are in any mood to entertain statehood.

“I don’t think that the Republican-controlled U.S. House would be receptive to a new state that could have new Democrat representation — two U.S. senators, several more representatives — and also with English not being the sole official language of government,” Kent suggests.

But he notes an interesting political twist in the vote: the Republican governor and many legislators who pushed for statehood were defeated by Democrats who want to keep the island a commonwealth.

“The popular Democrat Party, they are for commonwealth, so Obama is in a bind,” the ProEnglish spokesman poses. “His party in Puerto Rico is for keeping the status-quo, whereas the Republicans [who] were ousted, they formed the statehood party.”

And with the United States already drowning in debt, Kent wonders why it would want to grant statehood to a poverty-ridden island with more than 13 percent unemployment.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens and, today, “the United States Congress legislates many fundamental aspects of Puerto Rican life”. However, the islanders may not vote in U.S. presidential elections. Since 1947, Puerto Ricans have been able to elect their own governor. Its official languages are Spanish and English, with Spanish being the primary language. The island’s current political status, including the possibility of statehood or independence, is widely debated in Puerto Rico. In a non-binding referendum held on November 6, 2012, 65% favored statehood.  (Contributor: Chad Groening for One News Now, Wikipedia)

Pray that God’s wisdom will prevail in adding any state to the United States. Puerto Rico is already an official U.S. Territory. Pray for its protection and blessing.

“if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7:6-7)

 

CONGRESSIONAL PRAYER CAUCUS – CURRENT ISSUES FOR PRAYER

Opposing hostility towards faith in the Air Force – Congressman Randy Forbes joined Congressman Diane Black and Congressman Todd Akin in sending a letter signed by 66 Members of Congress urging Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to investigate a pattern of hostility towards faith in the United States Air Force.  Over the last year, the Air Force has repeatedly capitulated to pressure from outside groups to remove religious symbols and references to faith from the service.  The letter calls on Secretary Panetta to issue clear Department of Defense policy guidance, consistent with our Constitution, to preserve the place of religious expression in the military at large.

Supporting legislative prayer at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit – Thirteen Members of the House of Representatives have joined the Family Research Council (FRC) in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in support of legislative prayer.  The Lakeland City Commission in Florida had a policy of inviting clergy to offer invocations at the beginning of its meetings.  The Atheists of Florida sued, arguing that because most of the prayers were offered by Christian clergy, the prayers were “too sectarian” and thus violated the Establishment Clause.  The brief submitted by the Members argues that courts do not have the jurisdiction to delve into the inner workings of a deliberative body’s meetings because of the constitutional separation of powers between the branches of government.

Supporting the freedom of school boards to open meeting with prayer – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting a resolution introduced by Congressman Tim Walberg that supports the freedom of school boards to open meetings with prayer.  H.Res.662 expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that school boards are deliberative bodies similar to city and county councils and state legislatures, and should be treated as such for purposes of analyzing the constitutionality of their prayer policies.

Working to protect the symbols and traditions of Christmas – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.Res.489, introduced by Congressman Doug Lamborn, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those that celebrate Christmas.  Each year during the Christmas season, there are increasing efforts to remove religious symbols and references from the holiday.  H.Res.489 emphasizes that the First Amendment does not require bans on religious references to Christmas, and supports the use of these symbols by those who celebrate Christmas.

Fighting attempts to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance –
Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus lead in sending a letter to NBC, expressing concern over the network’s omissions of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance twice in a video montage aired during coverage of the U.S. Open.  In response to the letter sent by 108 Members of Congress, the network reprimanded the employees responsible for the omissions and implemented safeguards to prevent similar instances in the future.

Opposing efforts to remove a memorial cross honoring military veterans – In January of 2011, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a cross displayed at the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, California was unconstitutional.  Members of the Prayer Caucus signed on to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Ninth Circuit asking the full court to reconsider the case, and asserting that the cross’s presence at the memorial is constitutional.  After the Ninth Circuit declined to reconsider the case, Members joined the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of the United States, asking the Court to take up the case and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision.  In June of 2012, the Supreme Court announced that it would not review the case; however, Justice Alito issued a statement saying the appeal may have been premature and the Court may reconsider the case after the district court issues a final order on the fate of the memorial.

Urging religious freedom protections for service members –
The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military raised concerns that service members whose consciences or religious beliefs conflicted with homosexual behavior would face discrimination and disapproval.  Members of the Prayer Caucus sent a letter to President Obama, urging that specific religious freedom and conscience protections be adopted during implementation of the repeal to formally assure all Americans that our citizens need not leave their faith at home when they volunteer to serve.

Affirming America’s rich spiritual heritage – Co-chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressman Forbes and Congressman McIntyre, reintroduced legislation to recognize our nation’s religious history.  H.Res.253, America’s Spiritual Heritage Resolution, affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our nation’s founding and subsequent history, and designates the first week in May as America’s Spiritual Heritage Week.

Working to decrease frivolous lawsuits challenging public expressions of religion – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.R.2023, introduced by Congressman Dan Burton, which would ensure that the legal system is not used to extort money from state and local governments through frivolous lawsuits against public expressions of religion.  H.R. 2023 would not prevent parties from filing lawsuits alleging Establishment Clause violations, but it would require each side to pay its own attorneys’ fees.  The bill would limit the remedies available to the suing party, so the only relief available would be that the state or local government would be required to stop its public expression of religion, if the court deems it unconstitutional.  The result would be a decrease in frivolous lawsuits and the assurance that state and local governments are not intimidated into halting constitutional public expressions of religion.

Recognizing the significant impact of the Ten Commandments on America’s development – Members of the Prayer Caucus are supporting H.Res.211, introduced by Congressman Louie Gohmert, which recognizes the significant contribution that the Ten Commandments have made in shaping America’s principles, institutions, and national character.  The bill supports designating the first weekend in May as “Ten Commandments Weekend.” (Contributor: Congressional Prayer Caucus)

On Watch in Washington November 14, 2012  in PDF Format

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