American Elephants

“This Mandate is Going to Wind Up in the Supreme Court” by The Elephant's Child

When Obama spoke warmly about  hope and  bipartisanship and cooperation in Congress, both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats. When the 2010 election put Republicans firmly in control of the House of Representatives, Obama lost interest in cooperation.

Instead he determined to accomplish what he wanted done by executive orders, presidential memoranda and proclamations, and of course, regulations and mandates from the various agencies that were more or less authorized by some legislation. He just wouldn’t bother with Congress anymore.

Ruling by decree was just the way Obama wanted it. In February, President Obama announced his intention to order private insurance companies to provide contraception and abortion drug coverage free, as his way of accommodating religious institutions’ conscientious objections to being forced to provide coverage of those items for their employees, under the terms of ObamaCare.

The president just doesn’t get to rule by decree, taking over private industry,  installing his own people to carry out his wishes.  Oh, wait….

Back in 1952, during the Korean War, Harry Truman, an unpopular president, conducting an unpopular war, was faced with a political problem in a presidential election year. A looming steelworker’s strike could shut down the country’s steel production for months. The industry was under wartime price controls and could not raise their prices, yet could not meet the demands of labor without raising steel prices. The federal Wage Stabilization Board recommended a wage increase, but the federal Office of Price Stabilization denied the companies’ request for a price increase. Nobody would budge, and a strike was imminent.

Steel production was important to the war effort. Congress had rejected the idea of direct government interference in labor disputes. Truman ordered his secretary of commerce to seize and take over operation of the nation’s steel companies, in order to give steelworkers a wage increase and avoid a strike threatening steel production in the middle of a war. This became one of the most famous and most important of all modern Supreme Court decisions: Youngstown Steel & Tube Co.v. Sawyer. The Supreme Court held that the president may not rule by decree, conscripting private industry to carry out his commands. The chief executive may only execute laws passed by Congress, according to their terms. He may not make up laws of his own and then enforce them.

The presidents of three evangelical colleges have filed suit with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Alliance Defense Fund against the mandate, which is clearly in violation of the religious clause of the First Amendment.

In addition, it appears that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did not consult Supreme Court decisions on religious liberty, nor have a legal memo prepared before she drafted the mandate. On Thursday Secretary Sebelius appeared before the House and was questioned by Congressman Gowdy (R-SC) a former federal prosecutor.

I suspect that Obama’s overreaching mandate may be in trouble.

They Say “Don’t Mess With Texas” For a Reason. by The Elephant's Child

The State of Texas has a program called Women’s Health Program (WHP) which provides  family planning and women’s health examinations to low-income women who earn too much to qualify for regular Medicaid.

State legislators set funding priorities for the agencies that disburse federal funds. Texas adopted a rule last year to prevent any of the WHP funds from going to clinics that provide or refer for abortions — notably planned Parenthood franchises, which had received 40 percent of the program’s funding.

The problem is the same one that was raised in the Komen kerfuffle. Planned Parenthood was ostensibly being reimbursed for providing health services like mammograms and cancer screening, but Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms nor cancer screening, but just refers patients to someone who does.

In December, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) informed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission that , in its opinion, Texas restrictions on the program were unlawful. CMS said Texas cannot restrict the distribution of its WHP funds because patients have the right to choose a Medicaid provider — and threatened to withdraw the funds entirely unless the restrictions were removed.

The battle is about Texas Right to Life and pro-life legislators efforts to defund the state’s abortion industry. Planned Parenthood believes they are entitled to government funding, and intend to lash out. The legislature’s rules and funding priorities have reduced the federal funding by 37% over the past year, resulting in the closure of twelve Planned Parenthood branches. The funding has merely been redirected, and thus has not restricted poor women’s access to necessary and preventive care.

The Obama administration has indicated that it would reduce its support for health care in Texas rather than let the state decide that the money shouldn’t go to supporting abortion providers. The administration has withdrawn $30 million worth of funding from the Texas Medicaid program. Kathleen Sebelius even traveled to Texas to announce  the withdrawing of funds. The federal government favors abortion, and expects Texas to recognize that fact.  Heavy hand of government.

Texas says they will fund the program themselves. Of the more than 1.000 certified WHP providers across the  state, Texas law excludes fewer than 100 Planned Parenthood providers. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued an opinion declaring that federal law allows states to exclude abortion providers and their affiliated organizations from Medicaid. Texas considers Planned Parenthood a poor allocation of public funds.

Taxpayers are certainly not in agreement with the idea that they should fund, through the federal government, a major abortion provider. Some people find that morally repugnant. The federal  government’s powers are limited. Why can’t Obama grasp that simple fact?

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