WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - AUGUST 10, 2022
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Senate Passes Democrats' Sweeping Health Care and Climate Bill
The Senate on Sunday afternoon passed Democrats' $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill, in a significant victory for President Joe Biden and his party. The final, party-line vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The package is the product of painstaking negotiations, and its final passage would give Democrats a chance to achieve major policy objectives ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The Democrat-controlled House, which is expected to take up the legislation on Friday, August 12, must approve the bill before Biden can sign it into law. read more at CNN
In this instance, CNN’s headline describing the bill is more accurate than the bill’s name: Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). It is more about climate change, healthcare, and taxes than inflation. You can read our commentary in last week’s edition of the Intersect. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a federal agency which informs members of Congress on the economy and budget issues, the IRA would have a “negligible effect on inflation” this year and may either increase or decrease inflation by 0.1 percentage point next year. Even the Washington Post, which supports the bill, agreed with the opinion of numerous economists that the act “may not reduce inflation.” It does increase taxes on corporations. David Henderson, a former senior economist with President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, noted that “for every $100 in taxes on corporations, owners of capital (shareholders) pay $75, and workers' pay $25,” according to estimates from Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation. One of the lessons we can take from this is to always look beyond the immediate actions of any legislation and ask, “what are the unintended consequences?” In tandem with increased taxes, the bill allocates eighty billion dollars to hire 87,000 new IRS agents over the next ten years. The bill’s description promises that “there are no new taxes on families making $400,000 or less and no new taxes on small businesses.” The Daily Citizen reminds us that, “tax policy watchdogs warn…the bill will cost American workers jobs and wage increases. The Tax Foundation, which calls itself the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit, reports the bill will reduce GDP by 0.1 percent and cost about 27,000 jobs, hitting the coal, auto and truck industries the hardest. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) projects that American taxpayers, not just corporations, will be hit with tax increases because of the bill.”
When looking at legislation we must also consider what precedents and habits we are building as a society for how we deal with economic hardship. Instead of fulfilling Congress’ stated goal of reducing the deficit by cutting its own expenditures, the federal government has defaulted to a pattern of taking more from the American people. It is impeding our ability to take care of ourselves and others with the money we earn and is instead becoming the entity to which we look to take care of us.
Lord, our country is being irresponsible with the money we have earned through the abilities and opportunities You have given us. We have wasted much of it or used it for purposes outside of legitimate and wise boundaries for government. Forgive us, Lord, and forgive each of us when we exhibit similar behavior in our personal stewardship of Your money. Help us to be wise with our finances, and with the people we elect to steward our tax dollars.
Romans 13:4,6 tells us that we pay taxes in order to fund the proper exercise of governmental authority–to be God’s servants for our good. We have an additional opportunity, and responsibility, that the early Christians did not: the ability to elect public servants who understand their God-given roles…and limits. I believe the fact that 1 in 3 Christians doesn’t vote is part of the reason our nation is in such trouble. But you can do something about it. Join our Write Now Campaign to write letters to Christians who share your values but who are unlikely to vote without your prayer and encouragement. These efforts have been shown to increase turnout by 57% so you’ll make a huge impact!
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Signs Abortion Ban to Protect Unborn Babies
“The Indiana legislature has become the first in the nation to pass an abortion ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. The measure went to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who signed the bill into law almost immediately on Friday night. Earlier, the Indiana state House approved a bill to ban most abortions and tonight the state Senate voted to confirm the changes to the initial bill 28-19. With Holcomb’s signature, the law will go into effect on September 15th unless abortion activists take it to court and get an injunction beforehand.” read more at LifeNews.com
After the disappointment in Kansas last week, this is something to celebrate! Although not perfect, this new law is of particular interest because it not only restricts the ability to take the life of the unborn, but it also terminates the licensure of abortion clinics and puts in place strict timeframes and conditions to govern the limited circumstances where abortion is permitted (i.e., the procedure to save the life of the mother must be done in a hospital or a hospital owned facility, not an abortion related facility.) According to Indiana right to life, “The new law is expected to end over 95% of abortions in Indiana…” In other state news, last week Florida governor Ron DeSantis suspended a state attorney who signed a pledge along with over eighty-four state and district attorneys' stating that they would not prosecute anyone who seeks or performs abortions…regardless of state law. Article IV, section 7 of the FL constitution gives Governor Ron DeSantis power to make sure that FL officials are fulfilling their responsibilities according to the letter of the law. In suspending Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, DeSantis stated, “To take the position that you have veto power over the laws of this state is untenable.” Mr. Warren’s “blanket refusal” to enforce criminal law is what led to the governor exercising his responsibility to take action. With abortion and other hot-button issues being debated at the state level, it is important for voters to understand the separation of powers: the legislature passes law, the executive branch (including state attorneys) is to enforce the law, and the judicial branch applies the law to cases. When any of these entities neglect their duty or abuses their authority, it is up to the voters to hold them accountable.
Heavenly Father, thank You for victories in the battle for life. Help us and our elected officials to continue to be faithful to protect the innocent. In states where abortion is upheld in the law, help us not to grow weary of doing good, remembering that You are pleased with our faithfulness, and are still working in hearts and lives. Give us grace; in Jesus’ name, amen.
In my home state of Minnesota last year, five babies were born alive after failed abortion attempts. Tragically, no efforts were made to save their lives. The Abortion Survivors Network is an organization that amplifies the voices of survivors of abortion, reminding the public that behind every choice is a human life. They also provide healing and community for survivors. We encourage you to support their mission through their website. Sharing survivors’ stories is a key part in advocating for more protection for the pre-born…and the born.
2022 Midterm Primary Results in Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan and Washington
“Votes were cast in five states, including some that were battlegrounds in 2020 — and will be again in 2024. Kansas voters voted to preserve abortion access Tuesday night, as abortion faced its first test at the ballot box since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.” read more at CBS News
Last week’s primary elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in the 2022 cycle. Voters decided on multiple highly watched races including Arizona’s Governor race where Kari Lake won the Republican nomination and will face off against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) in November. Also in Arizona, Blake Masters won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, earning the right to face incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly come November. Masters defeated businessman Jim Lamon and current state Attorney General Mark Brnovich. In Michigan, John Gibbs edged out incumbent U.S. Representative Peter Meijer in a close vote of 51.8% to 48.2%. Gibbs will now face Democrat Hillary Scholten in the general election this fall. And over in Missouri, Republicans selected current Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Schmitt beat out former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler with 45.7% of the vote. Schmitt will now face Democrat nominee Trudy Busch Valentine in November. Google search traffic provided insight into the topics that mattered most to voters in those states last week with wages, Social Security, and healthcare at the top of searches. But the biggest news coming out of the state primary elections last week was what took place in Kansas. Kansas voters turned down a proposed amendment to the Kansas constitution that would have made very clear that that state's constitution includes no right to abortion nor a requirement that the state fund, in any way, abortion. Even though it was expected to go down to the wire, the vote was eventually 59-41 against the proposed constitutional amendment. What is troubling to observe regarding the measure’s failure is the number of Republicans who did not support the measure. 89,000 Republican voters voted against the amendment who had voted in the Senate Republican primary. With just 90 days until the midterms, it’s important to remember what is at stake: 35 seats in the U.S. House, 34 seats in the U.S. Senate. 36 Governor seats, 84 percent of state legislatures, 81,000 school board seats, and thousands of other elections across the US.
It’s not too soon to be praying for the midterm elections that will take place on November 8th. Pray that the Lord uses your faithfulness to vote to influence the communities we live in for our good and His glory. Keep this election day prayer guide handy as you prepare to vote.
Did you know we have the most comprehensive voter guide available that covers ALL elections across the US? Visit your state in the My Voter Hub to see your ballot, who is on it, where they stand, and who endorses them (most info is released a few weeks prior to the election) in order to make an informed vote.
FBI Searches Trump's Mar-a-Lago Home as Part of Records Probe
“On Monday, FBI agents searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, for classified documents Trump allegedly took from the White House upon leaving office. The search at Trump's house was conducted Monday morning while the former president was in New York. Shortly after FBI agents looked through his home, Trump issued a statement condemning the action, saying it was ‘not necessary or appropriate.’” read more at Christian Headlines
There is still a lot we don’t know about the FBI’s execution of a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, but from what little we do know so far, it is an unprecedented use of federal power against a former president. Until Monday, the FBI had never raided the home of a former president. According to National Review, "[T]he idea that a law enforcement organization under a sitting president would raid the home of his predecessor, opponent in the previous election, and potential opponent in the next election, has no close parallel in American history." The move by the FBI was drastic. Trump’s son Eric confirmed that there were 30 FBI agents involved. Trump called it “political targeting at the highest level.” Why did the raid happen? The New York Times reported that the search is related to classified materials taken home by President Trump after he left the White House. If that is the real reason for the search, the issue could have been resolved without raiding the former president’s home and breaking open his safe. Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo points out that although it was proven that Hillary Clinton possessed classified information after Benghazi, her home was never raided. So, what’s behind this? The January 6 committee has laid out a path to disqualifying the former president from running in 2024, and it involves charging him and others with crimes for their actions after the 2020 election. By raiding Trump’s home and exposing possible illegal actions (such as hiding classified information), the FBI sets a path to disqualify Trump from running again. Hillary Clinton’s former campaign attorney (and current DNC lawyer) Marc Elias explained that this is the reason for the raid. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis labeled the FBI raid an “unprecedented political weaponization” of the Department of Justice (DOJ). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) said the same and vowed to investigate the DOJ if Republicans win back the House of Representatives later this fall. Will this news stir the electorate? Last weekend, Former President Trump attended CPAC where he delivered a two-hour-long speech. In a straw poll taken by attendees at the event, 69% said they preferred Trump, with 24% saying they would prefer Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as the Republican nominee for president in 2024. In all the latest news on the former president, instead of jumping to conclusions, wait for information. You may have run out of hope -- especially for our government -- but the Living Hope hasn’t left you. Government agencies may fail us, by acting when they shouldn't or not acting when they should, but our God will never fail to make all things right.
Pray with us for officials handling these matters to seek God's direction. Pray for peace and civility in our country during these strenuous times. While we may be distressed with the state of our nation Lord, we pray for a greater measure of Your discernment, Your strength, and Your presence to displace the darkness.
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