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On Watch in Washington October 24, 2012

THE CANDIDATES NEED TO FOCUS ON U.S. COMPETITIVENESS

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have mentioned U.S. competitiveness on the campaign trail. Neither, however, has laid out how he would turbo-charge our economic engines for the hypercompetitive race ahead. With Nov. 6 approaching quickly, time is running out for the candidates to tell us what they would do.

America as a place to do business: The reality is that businesses will locate and invest in any part of the world they think will help them achieve a competitive advantage. America is becoming a more costly place to do business. The structural cost burden on U.S. manufacturers—what they pay for taxes, employee benefits, torts, environmental regulation and energy—has increased 20 percent relative to costs for their counterparts in our nine largest trading partners.

Taxes: Compared to many competitors, our businesses face a tax system less favorable to business investment and growth. The basic U.S. corporate tax rate at 35 percent is much higher than the average of 23 percent paid by many of our biggest competitors—higher than in Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the United Kingdom. U.S. multinationals have $1.4 trillion parked overseas because if they brought that cash home, they’d be double-taxed. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, how would you change our taxes to make the United States a more attractive place to invest and do business, and encourage U.S. multinationals to bring money home and put it to work in U.S. factories, service businesses, research and innovation?

Regulation: Businesses have an overarching concern about regulatory uncertainty. It’s paralyzing and affecting their investment decisions. Regulation is strangling our small businesses, which play a large role in U.S. innovation and have accounted for two-thirds of net job creation for more than a decade. How would you clear the air of uncertainty with a balanced approach to regulation that would ensure safety, corporate responsibility and environmental protection while reducing the heavy burden on our businesses and encouraging innovation?

Entrepreneurship: Americans are entrepreneurs, risk-takers and innovators. Yet new-business formation has tanked. What would you do to ignite U.S. entrepreneurship and promote new businesses from startup to scale-up?

Energy: Game-changing developments in the U.S. energy sector give America a golden opportunity to improve energy security, reduce energy costs, revitalize manufacturing, create millions of jobs, transform us from a foreign-energy-dependent nation to an energy-producing exporter and reduce the geopolitical leverage of the world’s petro-powers. Advancements in technology have put an energy bonanza within our reach—a 100-year supply of natural gas we can tap in U.S. shale formations. How would you balance energy and environmental regulation in a carbon-constrained future, while fully developing America’s vast energy potential—both fossil fuels and “renewables”—to power up our homes, industries and economy with affordable energy?

Trade: For decades, America led the world in open markets, free trade and fair trade. Now the global trade agenda simmers on the back burner while some of our competitors gain an edge by stealing our intellectual property and hiding behind high tariffs, state-sanctioned protections and subsidies, forced technology transfers for market access and, yes, currency manipulation. At the same time, other democratic economies of the Americas are soaring, yet we have failed to move beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement to establish strategic trade partnerships right in our own backyard. What would you do to reassert U.S. leadership in the global trade arena, open more markets, expand trade and forge new trade partnerships with the growing economies in our hemisphere?

Education and training for jobs: We can’t compete with low wages, low skills or in commodity goods production. We can’t compete against machines that are increasingly capable of doing tasks that have made up jobs for millions of Americans. Too many Americans have faced these competitive realities lacking the level of education, expertise and skill that would enable them to thrive in a complex, knowledge-intensive economy. How would you use federal leverage to overhaul our learning enterprise —from kindergarten through 12th grade to the most advanced learning in science and technology—to ensure that Americans of all ages have lower cost, easy access to the highest-quality education and training on the planet?

Innovation and manufacturing: The world is racing toward the cutting edge of technology — digital technology, nanotechnology and biotechnology. U.S. investment in research and development has grown to $400 billion annually — more than twice as much as the world’s next biggest spender, China. Still, we often fail to turn the fruits of research into wealth-creating innovations. What will you do to increase the return on our investment in research to get more economic growth, jobs, business formation, domestic manufacturing and higher wages for Americans?

Despite the long campaign, many questions remain. Hopefully, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney will take note. (Contributor: Deborah L. Wince-Smith is president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness in Washington and served as assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy in the George H.W. Bush administration. Excerpts from the Washington Times)

Pray that our national leaders will understand the gifts that this country has been given by our Lord in order to bless the world as well as our own nation. Pray that these leaders will be given wisdom in how best to advance and utilize the many talents and gifts that can help others in need. Pray for a godly attitude and positive competition to be promoted for the benefit of all.

“A faithful man shall abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich [at any cost] shall not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28: 20)

 

POLL: RELIGIOUSLY UNAFFILIATED LESS LIKELY TO VOTE

The recent boom in religiously unaffiliated Americans may ultimately help explain the results of the upcoming 2012 presidential election, according to a new poll that shows such voters lean heavily toward Obama but are less likely than the religiously affiliated to turn out.

Nearly one-quarter of likely Obama supporters say they have no particular religion—a group less likely to vote than those affiliated with an organized religion, according to a poll released Monday by the Public Religion Research Institute. Sixty-one percent of unaffiliated Americans said they are certain to cast a ballot, compared with 73 percent of Americans who are religiously affiliated.

The poll, one of a slew being released in the days before the election, focuses on the overlap—and sometimes contradiction—of a person’s faith identity and their views on newsy topics from religious freedom to abortion.

White Catholics, for example, are far more likely than Latino Catholics to favorably view Mitt Romney (54 percent vs. 27 percent). Yet White Catholics also are more likely to believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a view more in line with Obama’s.

The poll shows that nearly six in 10 Americans believe religious liberty is threatened in America, but about the same number believe religiously affiliated institutions should be required to provide employees with no-cost birth control. Ending the new White House mandate for such coverage has been the centerpiece of a campaign by the Catholic Church and conservative religious groups.

The poll, which was co-authored by several senior fellows at the Brookings Institution, highlights the stark difference among faith groups.

Nearly eight in 10 likely Romney voters identify themselves as white Christians—mainline Protestants, Catholic or evangelical—while the number of likely Obama voters who identify themselves as white Christians drops to about four in 10. Other large parts of Obama’s base are the unaffiliated (23 percent), black Protestants (18 percent) and Latino Catholics (6 percent).

Like the unaffiliated, Latino and African American voters traditionally have lower turnout rates, said Robert Jones, a poll co-author who founded the institute.

“Romney has a turnout advantage in that his supporters are more white,” Jones said.

The poll showed Romney with a 21-point lead among white working-class voters overall, but the group was more divided when looked at by faith.

Sixty-six percent of white working-class Protestant voters supported Romney, compared with 30 percent for Obama. Among white working-class Catholics, neither candidate had a statistically significant edge.

The poll also laid out other voting gaps. According to PRRI, 53 percent of female voters were likely to support Obama, compared with 44 percent for Romney. Seventy-six percent of women who have never been married support Obama, while 55 percent of married women support Romney.

Issues related to reproductive freedoms, including the contraception mandate, have figured prominently in the campaign. Fifty-six percent of Americans say religiously affiliated hospitals and colleges should be required to provide no-cost contraception coverage to employees, and 45 percent said even houses of worship should be required to do so as well.

The White House mandate exempts houses of worship, but bishops and many other religious liberty advocates have said the exemption should be wider.

The poll shows Americans are divided by faith identity even on the question of what America’s core problems are.

PRRI asked if the country’s woes are primarily because of an unfair economic system, and then asked if they are also caused by a moral decline and the loss of traditional values. White evangelical Protestants were much more likely to identify moral decline, not economic inequality (37 percent to 5 percent). White Catholics, white mainline Protestants and Hispanic Catholics also were more likely to blame shifting values. But black Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated were equally likely to blame both factors. (Contributor: By Michelle Boorstein for The Washington Times)

Pray that we as Christians will be salt and light in a world that needs God’s love and encouragement. Pray that the Lord will give you understanding and wisdom in how to vote for each of the candidates that are up for election. Seek God’s heart on how He would have our leaders rule with integrity and godly wisdom.

“for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young–let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:2-5)


WALL STREET JOURNAL: SHOW THEM THE MONEY

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan promised that when 49 states squeezed $25 billion out of the nation’s five largest banks in February, the money would be used to “provide immediate relief to homeowners.” Now comes the rest of the story.

A report released Thursday by Enterprise Community Partners, a housing nonprofit, examined the share of the settlement that was granted to the states—some $2.5 billon.

The terms of the deal said the money should be used “to the extent practicable . . . for purposes intended to avoid foreclosures,” a reference to the pseudo robosigning documentation scandal that the state Attorneys General and HUD used as a pretext for the cash grab. We’re still waiting for the flood of aggrieved, current borrowers who were wrongly foreclosed upon to appear.

Researchers Andrew Jakabovics and William McHale took months to contact the AGs and plow through public documents and news clips because there is no central clearinghouse to track where all the money’s gone. They found that $966 million was pledged to “housing and foreclosure-related activities,” $588 million has been diverted to states’ general funds, or for non-housing uses.” That is to fill the budget holes.

Governor Jerry Brown put California’s $410 million settlement share toward its $16 billion budget deficit. Arizona wants to do the same with $50 million of its share. Georgia is spending its $99 million on economic development.

Iowa AG Tom Miller, another settlement champion, told U.S. News & World Report, “It’s not like they’re [the states] taking a huge percentage of the overall settlement,” though he acknowledges states should spend “a significant part of [the funds] to help deal with and fund the infrastructure to help homeowners in crisis.” Note the “significant.”

Two decades ago state politicians raided Big Tobacco under the guise of protecting Americans’ health, only to spend the dough on other things. Now they’re doing the same with the big banks, under the cover of helping homeowners. Kudos to Enterprise for exposing the fraud. (Contributor: The Wall Street Journal)

Give thanks to the Lord that there are agencies that responsibly track and monitor money allocations. Give thanks to the Lord that these malpractice allocations have been exposed. Pray for righteous leaders to replace those responsible for these gross violations of public trust.

“Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:37)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverb 3:5-6)


TAXES GO UP IN 2013 FOR 163 MILLION WORKERS

Mr. Obama isn’t talking about it and neither is Mr. Romney. But come January, 163 million workers can expect to feel the pinch of a big tax increase regardless of who wins the election.

A temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes is due to expire at the end of the year and hardly anyone in Washington is pushing to extend it. Neither Obama nor Romney has proposed an extension, and it probably wouldn’t get through Congress anyway, with lawmakers in both parties down on the idea.

Even Republicans who have sworn off tax increases have little appetite to prevent one that will cost a typical worker about $1,000 a year, and two-earner family with six-figure incomes as much as $4,500.

Why are so many politicians sour on continuing the payroll tax break?

Republicans question whether reducing the tax two years ago has done much to stimulate the sluggish economy. Politicians from both parties say they are concerned that it threatens the independent revenue stream that funds Social Security.

They are backed by powerful advocates for seniors, including AARP, who adamantly oppose any extension.

“The payroll tax holiday was intended to be temporary and there is strong bipartisan support to let that tax provision expire,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. “The continued extension of a temporary payroll tax holiday has serious long-term implications for Social Security and, frankly, it’s not even clear that it has helped to boost our ailing economy.”

The question of renewing the payroll tax cut has been overshadowed by the expiration of a much bigger package of tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush. The Bush-era tax cuts also expire at the end of the year, and Congress is expected to try to address them after the election, in a lame-duck session.

The payroll tax cut could become part of the mix in negotiations that could go in many directions. But lawmakers in both political parties say they doubt it.

“I think there’s a growing consensus that Congress and Obama can’t continue to divert such a critical revenue stream from Social Security,” said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, a senior Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. “I think more and more Americans understand that that payroll tax cut, while politically appealing, is endangering Social Security.”

Before he was named as Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., disparaged the payroll tax cut, calling it “sugar-high economics” that wouldn’t promote long-term growth.

Social Security is funded by a 12.4 percent tax on wages up to $110,100, rising to $113,700 in 2013. Half is paid by employers and the other half is paid by workers. For 2011 and 2012, Congress and Obama cut the share paid by workers from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.

A worker making $50,000 saved $1,000 a year, or a little more than $19 a week. A worker making $100,000 saved $2,000 a year.

The beauty of the tax cut is that is shows up in weekly paychecks, giving workers more money to spend or save. The downside is that some workers may not notice a $19-a-week increase in pay, making them unlikely to credit the politicians who made it happen. (Contributor: Excerpt from an Associated Press, CNS News)

Pray that our national leaders fully embrace the truth of being good stewards of what they have been handed in regards to financial administration of our national wealth. Good stewardship will strengthen our nation and in so doing, be a blessing to the world. “To whom much has been given, of him shall much be required.” We are a blessed nation with great wealth. Pray for wisdom to use it wisely.

“For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” (Luke 12:48)


REAL UNEMPLOYMENT: 9.3% COUNTING DROPOUTS

The real unemployment rate in September 2012 is 9.3%, if the labor force were following historical patterns.

The unexpected drop in the official unemployment rate to 7.8% in September has given rise to conspiracy theories about politically motivated data-doctoring. Most economists find the notion laughable. But behind the conspiracy talk lays real frustration: The unemployment rate is falling, but by most other measures, the job market is improving only slowly.

Those who pay close attention to economic issues know that the Labor Department uses a relatively narrow definition of “unemployment,” counting only those who are actively looking for work. As a result, economists often look at another measure, the labor force participation rate, which is the share of the population that’s either working (employed) or looking for work (unemployed).

During the recession, the unemployment rate shot up and the participation rate plunged, as people dropped out of the labor force. More recently, the unemployment rate has been getting better, but the participation rate has continued to trend down.

Some people — notably Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — have argued that to get the “real” unemployment rate, we should add back all the people who have left the labor force and consider them unemployed. Doing that gives an unemployment rate of around 11%, depending on what month you choose for a baseline.

But adding back everyone who’s left the labor force makes little sense. Long before the recession, the participation rate was declining due to factors unrelated to the business cycle. People are entering the labor force later as more people go to college. The Baby Boom generation is starting to retire. And the flood of women into the workforce, which drove a long rise in labor force participation in the second half of the 20th century, has slowed. Any serious effort to assess the job market has to take such trends into account.

Still, it’s clear that millions of people dropped out of the labor force because they couldn’t find jobs. Shouldn’t those people count as unemployed?

The trouble with that logic is that people have always left the labor force during tough times. If the “real” unemployment rate is higher than the official rate now, it was also higher in past recessions. The big advantage of the unemployment rate, whatever its shortcomings, is that it’s used a consistent definition for decades. 7.8% might not be the “right” rate now, any more than 10.8% was the “right” rate in 1982. But as long as the definitions don’t change, the two should be comparable.

That comparability is based on a critical assumption, however: that workforce patterns have remained largely consistent over time. For most of the past 40 years or so, that assumption appears relatively well-founded. The participation rate’s overall path has been determined by demographic and other long-term factors, but it also has a clear cyclical element, showing slower growth (or a faster decline) during recessions, then returning to its prior path when the economy recovers.

It’s possible to quantify this pattern using a simple model that takes into account both the long-term direction of workforce participation and the historical impact of the business cycle. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

The model suggests that the big drop in the participation rate during the most recent recession, dramatic though it was, wasn’t out of step with historical patterns. The recessions of the early 1980s had a similarly dramatic impact on the participation rate, although because the labor force was growing due to demographic factors, the result was a much slower rate of growth, rather than an outright decline. That means the unemployment rate from the current recession should be comparable to the rate in the 1980s.

But starting in mid-2010, the model and the real world began to diverge. As employment begins picking up, the model, based on historical patterns, expects the participation rate to start stabilizing. Instead, workforce participation has continued to drop, hitting a three-decade low in August. (Contributor: The Wall Street Journal)

Pray that the truth about unemployment in this nation would be revealed. Pray that our national leaders will be given creative ways to promote sound financial growth and encourage workers to have a stable job market.

“From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.” (Proverbs 12:14)

 

U.S., ISRAEL PREPARE TO STAGE LARGEST EVER JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE

An American force of 3,500 troops is preparing to join 1,000 Israeli soldiers in the largest US-Israel joint military exercise ever. The exact dates are being withheld as a security precaution. The maneuvers take place against the backdrop of increased tension with Iran and international speculation concerning intentions in Jerusalem to forcibly halt the Iranian nuclear program.

The stated goal of the $38 million joint mission-most of which is being paid by Washington-is for the American and Israeli armed forces to practice combating threats together. US Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin tried to dispel two frequently raised presumptions about the exercise and its timing, saying it’s “not about national elections or any perceived tensions in the Middle East.”

A key element of the exercise will be to test Israel’s defensive shield, most of which was designed and built with Israeli and American expertise; and mostly American money. The defensive infrastructure is comprised of the Patriot, Arrow, and Iron Dome anti-missile systems, each one designed to destroy incoming missiles at different ranges.

An air of urgency was added to the joint exercise when a drone penetrated Israeli airspace last week and reportedly photographed sensitive military sites before being shot down by Israeli fighter jets. Iran has also threatened to use its proxies along Israel’s borders-Hizbullah to the north; Hamas to the south-if hostilities ensue. (Contributors: Capitol Hill Prayer Partners, The Media Line)

Pray that these military exercises will give the enemies of Israel, the United States and European allies pause. Pray that they will count the cost of any continued hostile advances. Pray that the military exercises will strengthen the resolve of Israel’s alliances with the U.S. and other European governments.

“It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect – He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:32, 34)

 

U.S. FUNGAL MENINGITIS OUTBREAK DEATHS STAND AT 23

The U.S. death toll from fungal meningitis linked to potentially contaminated steroid injections has risen by two to 23, with North Carolina reporting its first death, health officials said on Saturday.

Tennessee’s death total in the outbreak rose to eight, the highest state total, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on its website.

States reported 13 new cases of fungal meningitis, raising the total to 281. There are also three peripheral infections caused by injections into joints.

The outbreak stems from medications shipped by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Massachusetts. The company faces federal and state investigations and lawsuits over the tainted medications.

Indiana and New Hampshire reported two new cases apiece. Virginia, Tennessee and New Jersey each had three new cases, the CDC said.

Health regulators confirmed on Thursday the presence of the deadly Exserohilum fungus in vials of the NECC steroid used for pain injections. They estimate that as many as 14,000 people may have been exposed to the contaminated medication.

NECC and its executives face a civil suit in Massachusetts that seeks to freeze the officers’ personal assets. Florida, which has had three deaths and 17 cases, has barred NECC from doing business in the state. (Contributor: Reuter News Service, with reporting by Ian Simpson)

Pray for the families that have been infected by this fungal infection. Pray that this contamination will not continue to spread and that complete containment will be achieved. Pray that sound and ethical methods of treatment will be administered to all those that have been effected by this outbreak. Pray that procedures and regulations will be put into effect so that this does not ever happen again.

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)

 

ACLU SAYS FATHER-DAUGHTER DANCE “CONTRARY TO FEDERAL LAW”

If you want to see what the new normal looks like when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calls the shots, look no further than Cranston, R.I. That city of 80,000, the third-largest in the Ocean State, is at the epicenter of the ACLU’s war on the normal.

It makes a perverse sort of sense, because Cranston reportedly is the inspiration for Quahog, R.I., the fictitious setting of Seth MacFarlane’s vulgar, anti-family Fox TV comedy “Family Guy.”Mr. MacFarlane, who has been tapped to host the 85th Academy Awards on Feb. 24, is an avowed atheist who has grown rich by mocking America’s core values.

Earlier this year, the ACLU got a federal judge to order a public high school in Cranston to tear down a banner that had inspired students toward exemplary behavior for 50 years. In September, the ACLU managed to get a father-daughter dance canceled on the grounds that it encouraged “gender stereotypes.”

In both cases, the community rallied around the schools, but the ACLU ground them down. In the banner case, the ACLU quickly dunned the district $178,000 in legal fees, courtesy of Cranston taxpayers, who already had funded the defense. As in many communities, Cranston district officials did not change heart on the issue — they just wanted to stop the bleeding. This is why a bullying letter from the ACLU often kills resistance before it starts.

Americans have almost grown accustomed to the ACLU using the courts to rip out Ten Commandment monuments, trash city hall Nativity scenes, even force the removal of highway crosses memorializing fallen state troopers, and make schools officially atheist in form and function. But the dance cancellation takes the absurdity to new heights.

So, how did the ACLU justify attacking the father-daughter dance? Apparently the event might indicate that males and females are different. Seriously. Plus, not every girl has a dad or father figure who will take her, so some girls might be left out. Therefore, it’s better to cancel the whole thing.

After school district officials threw in the towel, the ACLU applauded them, saying, “The school district recognized that in the 21st century, public schools have no business fostering the notion that girls prefer to go to formal dances while boys prefer baseball games. This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.”

No, it’s not. Federal law permits exceptions for gender-based events, just as it permits the existence of separate restrooms for girls and boys.

In the other case, a U.S. district judge in January ordered Cranston High School West to take down a prayer banner, which the school did. Despite a flurry of support, including a petition signed by 4,000 people to keep the banner, the school district declined to appeal. Here’s the text of the nondenominational school prayer, which had hung in Cranston High School West’s auditorium since 1963:

Our Heavenly Father, Grant us each day the desire to do our best,

To grow mentally and morally as well as physically,

To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers,

To be honest with ourselves as well as with others,

Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win,

Teach us the value of true friendship,

Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. Amen.”

Pretty shocking stuff. No wonder it had to go. It’s not the admonition toward good behavior that offends, of course, but the divine references. Can’t have that in the new normal, even though “In God We Trust” is on the coins we use every day.

Following its victories, the ACLU loves to remind us of our ever narrowing freedoms, tossing us a bone, as it were. Listen to the condescending tone of the ACLU’s triumphal statement following the district’s cave-in on the father-daughter dance:

“[Parent-teacher organizations] remain free to hold family dances and other events, but the time has long since passed for public school resources to encourage stereotyping from the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella — not even in Cranston. In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday.”

Sure. Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are shaking in their shoes at that prospect. Note the snarky comment, “not even in Cranston.” Oh, that backward Cranston, with a large Italian-American population that celebrates God, family and America.

Not every girl wants to be a princess. Some of them would rather be biker chicks. Some of them go completely off the rails and become ACLU plaintiffs. But this is not a rational reason to cancel a father-daughter dance. The detachment of fathers from their children is at the heart of virtually every social problem. Anything that encourages paternal commitment should be welcomed, not prohibited.

Apparently, that’s only if you have the best interests of the community at heart and are not trying to turn it into a place that only the ACLU could love. (Contributor: Robert Knight for The Washington Times)

Pray that America be protected from the influence of organizations that undermine the righteous ways established by our Founding Fathers. Pray that schools and communities would promote traditional values in a way that strengthens, encourages and includes young people from every background and environment.  Give thanks that “One Nation Under God Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All!” is still the heart cry of this nation.

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9–13)


OHIO’S 2011 RECORD 12 PERCENT ABORTION DECREASE

“Numbers released this month by the Ohio Department of Health documented a 12% reduction in abortions in 2011 compared to 2010,” stated Patrick D’Andrea, Chairman of the Ohio Life Collaboration Campaign. “It was both heartwarming and inspiring to learn that nearly 3,000 fewer women and their babies endured the pain of abortion.”

The Ohio Department of Health reported that the decline is larger in magnitude than has been reported in recent years.

“The Ohio Life Collaboration Campaign is pleased to be a part of the movement to empower women to choose life,” continued D’Andrea. “We believe that there are several factors contributing to a decline in abortions: education, media and public policy efforts empower women with information about positive alternatives to abortion and connect them with Pregnancy Help Centers. It’s exciting that more Ohio women are learning about the positive resources and assistance available to them, and choosing life for their babies.”

Ohio Life Collaboration Campaign Quick Facts:

The Campaign represents several pro-life groups coming together to connect women with life-affirming resources and help. Collaborative partners include: Heroic Media, Option Line, Heartbeat International, Right to Life of Northeast Ohio, many area churches and local area pregnancy centers. The Campaign attempts to coordinate the efforts of these groups allowing each participant to concentrate its efforts on what it does best along the “connecting” chain, while relying upon the others to do likewise.

In 2011, Ohio Life Collaboration Campaign media efforts generated over 14,000 connections to life-affirming resources in the state of Ohio.

The 2011 media campaign consisted of over 120 billboards and over 300,000 Internet ad impressions.

The current 2012 media campaign includes nearly 400 billboards statewide, viewed by over 7 million daily. In addition, 2012 Internet ad impressions will exceed 1 million. (Contributor: Christian Newswire)

Pray for the unborn children in our nation. Pray that they will be protected from those that would do them harm through abortion, which in God’s eye is murder. Pray that God’s words “thou shalt not kill” will produce conviction, and that the Holy Spirit would convince those who have the power to end a child’s life that there are grave consequences to their actions. Give thanks for the 2011 report for Ohio that the number of murders is decreasing.

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40)

 

CONGRESSIONAL PRAYER CAUCUS – CURRENT ISSUES FOR PRAYER

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.

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.

Urging the President to preserve religious hiring rights – Congressman Randy Forbes and Congressman Mike McIntyre sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to maintain current policies that allow faith-based organizations that consider religious criteria in their employment decisions to perform contract work for the federal government.

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.

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 October 24, 2012 PDF Format

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