Author archives: Tony Perkins

Health Care: Civility Cannot Mask Bad Ideas

by Tony Perkins

March 6, 2009

President Obama’s “Health Care Summit” continued at the White House today.  From Ted Kennedy to the National Federation of Independent Business, a diverse group was assembled to provide input in the large public forum and in smaller “breakout” sessions.

It is beyond dispute all Americans want consistent access to high-quality and cost-effective medical insurance and care.  No one who has ever seen a loved one suffer or who has personally experienced a serious disease or injury wants anything less.  How we arrive at this goal is where the division lies.  President Obama has asserted that health care is a “right.”  Is healthcare itself a “right” or is access to health care a right?  These are important distinctions.  If it is a fundamental right it must be provided for and that would fall to the government.  A government-run monopoly would result in sharp increases in health care costs, rationing of healthcare and a decline in quality.

The President is calling for comprehensive health care reform by year’s end and certainly is and will be getting myriad ideas for how to do this.  Of course, none of these ideas are new nor must they be ferreted-out from obscure places.  The options for health care reform boil-down to a relatively few essential proposals.  Reforming America’s system of providing medical care is not a matter of finding some mysterious new formula, but of choosing between some basic options - options the President and his advisors know well.  No “summit” can ameliorate the stark and rather sharp differences between the options themselves and which the President must, ultimately, propose. 

Given his demonstrable commitment to a Herculean federal state, there is little doubt about what direction he will take.  But the President’s personal courtesy, his inclusion of occasional ideas from conservatives and even his willingness to engage in tactical compromise will not resolve four intractable concerns:

  • The Culture of Life: President Obama has said he wants to reverse the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding of abortion for lower-income women under the Medicaid program.  He is calling for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and already has reversed the Reagan-Bush policy that disallows federal funding for international organizations that promote or provide abortion.  President Obama’s “abortion reduction agenda” is premised on the wider-spread distribution of contraceptives to teenage Americans.  At the Health Care Summit, Planned Parenthood had a prominent role - yet not a single pro-life organization was invited.  When it comes to protecting the unborn, it seems clear that whatever medical reform plan is offered, it will not prioritize their well-being and could well, instead, destroy it.
  • The Goal of Government-Run Health Care is Back:  In the early 1990s, the Clinton health care plan envisioned a massive federal takeover of one-seventh of the American economy.  Today, the Left is much more artful in its efforts.  Gone is talk of a new federal health care behemoth governing individual healthcare choices.  Instead, federally directed health care is taking a much more incremental approach, one in which the components of a national health care system are more ‘bite-sized” but which, taken together, still would constitute a Washington-run system of health insurance, research, information collection and decision-making.  Myriad state-run models around the world teach us one thing: Nationalized health care is bad policy and produces inferior medical care.  Period.
  • The Nature of Constitutional Governance: The Constitution of the United States prescribes for the federal government a relative handful of duties.  Health care for its citizens is not one of them.  Recognizing that we cannot undo a wide swath of public health care programs in a day, and also that many of them perform vital services on which the nation now depends, should not conservatives at least be arguing that as we consider the future, private sector-driven solutions at the state and local level are not only the most effective with respect to quality, affordable medical treatment but also the most consistent with the Constitution itself?  No argument is ever won unless it’s made.  We fail our Founders - and our children - if we simply jettison the need for deferring to our nation’s charter text in this or in any other discussion of major national issues.
  • Being Civil Will Not Bring Greater Agreement on Foundational Principles.  President Obama is personally winsome and is an ingratiating public host.  He listens well, empathizes and often reflects carefully what even his opponents express.  Yet being cordial, while welcome in itself, fails to ameliorate the reality of entrenched and unflinching philosophical disagreement.  As liberal Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has noted, “I believe that (President Obama) overestimates his ability to get people to put aside fundamental differences.”  On health care as on much else, simply being nice is not enough: While all Americans should be personally respectful, we are in the midst of grim political combat over the direction of our country.

The private sector, including the pharmaceutical industry, large industrial and technology companies, hospitals, health care providers and small businesses, needs to engage constructively, to the extent possible, in helping to craft the President’s plan.  Yet they should also be willing to stand and say “no” when that plan strays from the principles of personal responsibility, market discipline and provider-patient decision-making.  And the pro-life community must, at all costs, remain a fixed and immovable force for the voiceless little ones whose very lives depend on us.

Playing Hardball with Mainstream America

by Tony Perkins

March 5, 2009

What do you call an American citizen who objects to one of President Obama’s most radical nominees? “Verbal terrorists,” according to “Hardball’s” Chris Matthews. The MSNBC host, who last night addressed the controversy surrounding Kathleen Sebelius, took a gratuitous swipe at the pro-life community for opposing the Governor’s radical positions. “Is she going to get through the anti-abortion people?” Matthews asked. “Yes. I think she’s going to do that. I mean, verbal terrorism? Yeah, she’ll get through that.”

Give me a break! Educating Americans on Sebelius’s record isn’t “terrorism,” it’s activism, no, it’s realism! As a candidate for one of the most influential posts in Obama’s Cabinet, Sebelius’s public positions matter—particularly if they’re as far outside the mainstream as hers have proven to be. Before Sebelius is confirmed, Americans deserve to know where she stands. They should know that the Kansas governor supports late-term abortions, filthy, roach-infested abortion clinics, government as the final authority on children’s health, the killing of innocent abortion survivors, and socialized medicine. Despite what Chris Matthews believes, standing up for the defenseless and the vulnerable is what public officials are supposed to do. This is just an attempt to shift the focus off the extremism of Sebelius’ record.

No Deal on This New Deal

by Tony Perkins

February 19, 2009

In a cedar chest at my home is a woolen thermal shirt. This is not just any thermal shirt; it is a part of history and a reminder. The shirt was a government issue, given to my grandfather. As a young man during the Great Depression, he worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps planting trees, building parks, and working on other public conservation projects. My grandfather earned a dollar a day.

The debate still continues among economists as to whether or not those vast public works projects that President Roosevelt launched through the CCC and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) along with other government spending helped end the nation’s worst economic crisis.

Regardless, FDR’s New Deal and the opportunities that it offered were significant to the many struggling families who were unemployed during a time when unemployment stood at almost 25%. Between 1935-1943 over 8 million Americans were on the payroll of the WPA alone.

FDR’s actions were controversial as he took the counterintuitive approach  promoted by English economist John Maynard Keynes to increase government spending during hard economic times. They called it “priming the pump.” FDR’s efforts led to a radical and lasting expansion of the power and reach of the federal government.

Parallels have been drawn between the New Deal and the present government response to the financial crisis - but there are vast differences. The stimulus measure signed by President Obama this week, which according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office will cost about $1.3 trillion, will, according to the President, preserve or create 3-4 million jobs. Keep in mind that adjusted for inflation this stimulus measure will probably cost 3 times what the New Deal cost.

The overall cost of government spending designed to revive the economy will go even higher as the President announced a mortgage bailout this week that could cost up to another $250 billion dollars.

There is a vast difference between spending government money to create short-lived public works jobs and expanding the size and scope of federal agencies and directly bailing out bad mortgages. It may sound simplistic, but a government inspired hand up is much different than a government handout, and the implications will be lasting and far reaching, not only on the size of government but also on the American ethic.

The effect of FDR’s economic philosophy was so pronounced that 30 years later in 1971, President Richard Nixon said “We’re all Keynesians now.” The impact of this present economic approach is even more powerful — so much so that before it has even been implemented, a recent cover story of Newsweek declared: “We are all Socialists Now.”

Perkins’ Perspective: Icing on the Stimulus Cake

by Tony Perkins

January 29, 2009

As the ice melted off my computer yesterday morning in D.C., I was able to find an email from Chicken Little—disguised as Al Gore. He’s the Chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection. Mr. Gore was reaching out to the UFO crowd and others about how the “entrenched interests in Washington will be working hard to weaken” President Obama’s stimulus bill.

The closer one looks at the so-called stimulus bill, the more you see that is a pork-laden political payoff which includes billions of dollars to those “entrenched interests in Washington” which Mr. Gore speaks of, most of whom have been at the public trough for years. They include groups like Planned Parenthood and the controversial and corrupt ACORN. Because this measure—which is now estimated to cost taxpayers $1.1 trillion—is so big, there are billions to be passed out to all kinds of left wing groups. Near the top of this list is the green lobby that Al Gore and his global warming alarmists are a part of.

By the way, in a recent Pew Research Center Poll of what Americans said were their public policy priorities - Al Gore was left out in the cold - global warming ranked dead last.

Perkins Perspective: Another Homosexual Sex Scandal

by Tony Perkins

January 26, 2009

Another openly gay politician is snared in a sex scandal with a teen.  Portland’s first openly gay mayor, Sam Adams —- who just took office earlier this month —- has now acknowledge he lied to cover up a sexual relationship he had with a young man he was “mentoring” in 2005.

This is reminiscent of former Congressman Mark Foley, who was caught hitting on male teens who served as pages on Capitol Hill. 

While I know that not every homosexual person preys on youth, it sure seems that many of the sex scandals involving homosexual public figures disproportionately involve young, easily influenced and impressionable teens.

Repeated incidents like these only serve to validate the Boy Scouts policy prohibiting homosexual scout masters.  The Boy Scouts have stood their ground despite enormous pressure from homosexual activists and their corporate allies who have cut off donations to the Scouts.  These businesses and government agencies that are carrying the water for the homosexuals on this issue should be forced to explain their intolerance of the truth every time there is a case like this.

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