The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to hear an appeal of a church-state case.
For the Elmbrook School District, near Milwaukee, Wis., graduation ceremonies were a challenge because the high school gym was hot, cramped and uncomfortable. The Elmbrook Church allowed officials to hold the ceremony in the church’s large, modern and air-conditioned sanctuary.
That arrangement worked for a decade, but then nine students and parents sued, claiming the school had violated a constitutional ban on “an establishment of religion” because the sanctuary displayed a large Latin cross. The 7th Circuit Court sided with the plaintiffs; the defendants now want Supreme Court review.
Like so many church-state lawsuits, this one appears driven not by any true state establishment of religion, but by thin-skinned people who think they have a constitutional right to be protected from learning that their neighbors may hold different religious beliefs than their own.
For those who believe Washington will definitely make good on its promise to pay for 90 percent of Medicaid expansion in perpetuity, we have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.
Uncle Sam gives and he takes away. Promising to cover 100 percent of Medicaid expansion for three years and 90 percent thereafter could be like so much pie crust — flaky.
The U.S. Forest Service is asking a dozen states to return federal revenue-sharing funds used to fight wildfires. Because of sequestration, it “has no alternative” but to ask for a refund, an agency manager said. Before the Federal Aviation Administration got a sequestration reprieve, the University of Oklahoma was poised to assume air traffic controller duties at a Norman airport.
Governors resisting Medicaid expansion are worried that Washington won’t keep its funding promise. They should be worried that Washington will ask for states to pay for more of existing Medicaid expenses.
We again wonder if the states will eventually be asked to bail out the federal government as it continues its Greece-like march toward insolvency.
Like others, we’ve noted that Obamacare’s insurance mandates, which kick in for employees working 30 hours or more per week, actually encourage businesses to reduce workers’ hours, making it harder for people to get ahead financially.
It turns out government workers aren’t immune from this fiscal reality.
The Wall Street Journal reports the city of Brunswick, Ohio, has instituted a 28 hours-per-week maximum for about 100 employees. The state of Virginia has started implementing a 29-hour cap for about 37,000 employees, including college adjunct faculty. And the Iowa Association of School Boards reports that some schools even considered a 29-hour weekly max for bus drivers, cooks and student learning aids.
Although Sara Redding Wilson, director of the Virginian Department of Human Resource Management, explains this trend succinctly, we suspect many liberals will still be baffled: “Some people don’t like it, and I get that, but we couldn’t afford it.”
Another day, another pointless protest along the route of the Keystone XL pipeline’s southern leg. Meantime, Americans remain supportive of the more controversial northern leg.
Protesters in Oklahoma (but not necessarily from Oklahoma) this week continued their childish antics of fastening themselves to construction equipment, getting arrested for it and — no doubt — tweeting about their heroics. Monday’s protest came on the final day of the U.S. State Department’s formal comment period for the project.
Also this week, the Environmental Protection Agency weighed in with the dog-bites-man news that it has major concerns about Keystone’s link between Cushing and Canada’s vast oil sands reserves. And a survey was released showing that nearly 75 percent of Americans support the project. This exceeds the 68 percent support registered in Canada.
While the Obama administration continues to dawdle on the northern leg, the route from Cushing to the Gulf Coast has the blessing of Barack Obama himself. He made a campaign stop near Cushing last year to announce his approval of the project. Yet the protesters keep showing up in southern Oklahoma to take a stand.
This week marked the fifth such effort. One protester said he came from Ames, Iowa, to defend the Red River. Really? Defend it from what? A Texas invasion?
The remark illustrates the mindlessness of this effort. Irrelevant comparisons to a pipeline break in Arkansas are about the only thing the protesters have going for them. We suggest that the Iowan head home and help defend Mississippi River towns from an extant flooding threat.
That would be productive and heroic.
President Barack Obama promised that under the Affordable Care Act, “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.” But that promise isn’t true even for government workers.
Washington state officials are considering a proposal to shift state workers out of their current health plans and into those offered through Obamacare exchanges.
Because pay for many of those employees is low enough to qualify for federal subsidies, the shift would “save” Washington state government $120 million over two years, shifting costs to federal taxpayers instead. Other states are expected to do the same.
The plans offered through exchanges are expected to have more limited provider networks than traditional insurance, so this is hardly a boon to state workers. It’s just one more instance where Obamacare is exacerbating problems in health insurance instead of solving them, and shifting costs instead of lowering them.
President Barack Obama claims he’s for “balanced” deficit reduction that relies on the rich paying just a little more. It turns out Obama defines “rich” to include those earning less than $10,000 annually, based on an analysis of his latest budget proposal by the Tax Policy Center.
The center found Americans at all income levels would face 2015 tax increases under Obama’s plan — which, we must point out, still fails to balance the budget even with $1.1 trillion in tax increases over a decade.
Obama’s plan includes a tobacco tax increase, which would fall disproportionately on the poor. While those earning between $50,000 and $200,000 would see after-tax income decline one-tenth of 1 percent, the center estimates those earning less than $50,000 would see after-tax income decline by two and three times that amount.
Who knew Obama considered a welfare recipient with a cigarette the equivalent of John Rockefeller?
Every year the U.S. government makes a certain number of visas available for highly skilled immigrants, and every year the demand far exceeds the supply. It’s long past time Congress expand the cap.
Presently 65,000 visas are given to high-tech companies that want to hire skilled workers from other parts of the world. Another 20,000 are available for foreign workers who earned an advanced degree from a U.S. university.
The Homeland Security Department began taking applications Monday for this year’s visas, and expected to outstrip supply in just a matter of days. The Associated Press noted that political support has grown in recent years to proposals that would increase the number of available visas, and they’re now a big part of immigration reform talks.
Here’s hoping the politicians get this one right — the more bright people we have working in America, the better.
U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, has gone from being an unknown candidate in a crowded primary a few years ago to a national figure.
Evidence of his growing influence can be seen in a recent profile published in Roll Call, a newspaper dedicated to congressional coverage. The article notes Lankford’s role as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee has made him a crucial link between House leadership and rank-and-file members.
That will give Lankford — and therefore, Oklahoma — considerable influence over future debates on immigration, transportation, and education.
Lankford’s demeanor is credited with building good relations in Congress while remaining true to conservative philosophy. “I want us to be known more for what we represent and what we stand for than the volume with which we say it,” Lankford said.
Oklahomans can be proud to have a congressman who proves influence is not incompatible with humility and thoughtfulness.
It’s easy to see why some members of Congress have a problem with the military’s Distinguished Warfare Medal, which was approved last month by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The honor is the first new combat-related medal in decades and will be given to service members who assist operations from afar — drone operators and the like. Panetta said in approving the medal that he had long felt these folks deserved recognition for their work.
Perhaps they do. What has members of Congress upset is the medal’s placement ahead of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, which are awarded for valor while in harm’s way.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said the Bronze Star and Purple Heart shouldn’t rank below a medal “for someone who sits far from the battlefield and operates a remote control panel thousands of miles from the battlefield.”
Members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars also have urged the administration to downgrade the award. This hasn’t happened and, given President Obama’s bullish use of drones, may not be likely.
Restoration of the 2 percent payroll tax cut on Jan. 1 was a type of sequestration, says a blog posting by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, the conservative counterpart to OK Policy.
In response to Barack Obama’s Chicken Littleism about effects of that other sequestration, the OCPA says average folks took a pay cut when the payroll tax went back to its previous rate. OCPA says the headlines today should be on the order of “Family Eliminates One Movie Outing Per Month” or “Billy Settles for Regular Shoes, Not Air Jordans!” instead of “Sequestration Will Destroy Nation As We Know It!” — or some such.
Families react to having less money by making “simple, minor adjustments in their spending practices, with little or no pain and cost, to reflect the 2 percent taxpayer sequester,” the blog says.
Obama? The Great Divider reacts with partisan fear-mongering.