Monday, November 26, 2012

Fallin did the Right Thing!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

A big part of ObamaCare is the establishment of health care exchanges from which individuals may purchase health insurance that is eligible for federal subsidies.  Under federal law all state exchanges must be fully up and operational by January 1, 2014 or the federal government will set up one for that state.  Exchanges are not themselves insurers, so they do not bear risk themselves, but determine the insurance companies that are allowed to participate in the exchange.
For an insurance company to participate in a health care exchange, they have to agree to not refuse to insure any individual, limit their price variations, and eliminate lifetime and annual limits on claims. 
Benjamin Domenech, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute urges state governments to take only the bare minimum of steps necessary in regard to health care exchanges.  “Ideally, state officials would choose not to implement an exchange at all.  In declining to implement an exchange under Obamacare, state policy leaders should use this historic moment to make progress toward real and necessary reform. They should demand from Washington the reforms necessary to replace the president’s one-size-fits-all, nationalized health care plan with one that empowers states and individuals to adapt, innovate, and succeed.”
Last week, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin did just that- she announced that Oklahoma would not be setting up a health care exchange.  “For the past few months, my staff and I have worked with other lawmakers, Oklahoma stakeholders and health care experts across the country to determine the best course of action for Oklahoma in regards to both the creation of a health insurance exchange and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Our priority has been to ascertain what can be done to increase quality and access to health care, contain costs, and do so without placing an undue burden on taxpayers or the state. As I have stated many times before, it is my firm belief that PPACA fails to further these goals, and will in fact decrease the quality of health care across the United States while contributing to the nation’s growing deficit crisis,” Fallin said at a news conference last Monday.
Oklahoma Speaker of the House elect T.W. Shannon, (R-Lawton) agreed with Fallin’s decision.  “I applaud Gov. Fallin for her courage in taking a stand for the people of Oklahoma. Oklahomans have long opposed Obamacare because they recognize how intrusive and unworkable the law is going to be.  Our Medicaid program is already unsustainable and needs to be reformed at the state level with solutions that reflect our unique challenges. Regarding the health insurance exchanges, it is important to understand that even if we were to create an exchange, the rules are written in Washington, D.C. and the exchanges are going to be controlled by the federal government. The law does not give the state enough flexibility to create an exchange model that would work for Oklahomans,” Shannon said.
So why did Governor Fallin take this action? 
First, because in 2010, Oklahomans overwhelmingly approved SQ 756 which allowed individuals to ‘opt out’ of ObamaCare.  That wasn’t just a protest vote- SQ 756 amended the Oklahoma State Constitution allowing individuals to not to participate in the individual mandate. 
The second reason to not establish a health care exchange is the uncertainty of the cost.  It is unclear how much a health care exchange would cost Oklahoma taxpayers.  It would be irresponsible and reckless of elected officials to just plow ahead not knowing what lays in the row.
The third reason is that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court against ObamaCare.  Pruitt’s lawsuit challenges the IRS unlawful attempt to impose ObamaCare’s taxes on exempt employers and individuals.  If successful, it could be the first thread to unravel ObamaCare. 
President Obama is right about one thing: Americans deserve a better health care system. But the best course would be one that will move us to a more consumer-focused, market-driven approach, not one of socialized medicine.
The Governor, Pruitt and other statewide elected officials along with state legislators take an oath to uphold the Oklahoma state constitution.  Fallin did what she was supposed to do- uphold the Constitution.  She should be applauded for her courage.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pause & be thankful!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
Thanksgiving is Thursday and most will spend it with family and friends feasting, watching football and shopping.  Some will say a quick prayer before they dive into the turkey and dressing, but many will not, taking the blessings of God for granted. 

Bear in mind that if God had not been watching over a small group of Pilgrims who found their way to the shores of Massachusetts in 1620, there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving.  Who were these Pilgrims that came to the ‘New World?’  When I was in school, I was taught the Pilgrims were Christians who were looking for religious freedom.  I doubt even that fact is taught in public schools today, but the Pilgrims didn’t just come to America to have religious freedom.  They had religious freedom in Holland for over a decade after fleeing England. 

In reality the Pilgrims were missionaries, coming to the New World to plant the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the wilderness. As William Bradford, wrote in his journal “They had a great hope and inward zeal of laying some good foundation…for the propagating and advancing the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be but even as stepping-stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.” Armed with a Geneva Bible, these 50 plus Christian exiles laid the moral, spiritual and governmental foundation of America in those early years.

The Pilgrims’ journey to America wasn’t easy.  They were on a ship for sixty six days with forty four days of rough seas.  Many were sick the entire journey.  Their first winter in the New World was brutal.  Thirteen of the eighteen Pilgrim wives died.  The small band was literally starving to death. 

We have all heard the story of Squanto who as William Bradford would write, was “a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectation.”  But did you know that Squanto had spent time in England, spoke English fluently and just ‘happened’ to be brought back to the very area where the Pilgrims were nine years before.  He taught them how to grow corn ‘the Indian way’ and what herbs and berries were edible. 

Almost exactly a year after they had landed in Massachusetts, fifty three Pilgrims celebrated their bountiful corn harvest with a feast.  They invited Squanto and his Indian friends and the celebration lasted three days.  The focus of their celebration was their thankfulness to God for his provision. 

Today, Thanksgiving Day celebrations bear little resemblance to that first one.  We have the feasting part down pretty well, but the thanksgiving part has taken a back seat to revelry and shopping.

Three things Americans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day:

First, we are still a free people.  While it’s true the government in America has gotten too big and is too involved in our lives, Americans still have more liberty than any other people on earth.  I realize some will question this statement, but look around and you will see no other country in the world that allows their citizens the mobility to travel, the flexibility to educate your children and the opportunities to determine your own employment than the U.S.A.

Second, we still live in a land where we have religious freedom.  While that may change and in fact is changing, we are still able to practice our religion as we please.  That is rare in the world and a blessing we should thank God for.

Third, we still have the right of free speech.  While that is also under attack, for the most part citizens can express their political opinions without fear of imprisonment or persecution.  America is one of the few countries in the world where the exchange of ideas is done in a way that doesn’t result in bloodshed.

So when you sit down Thursday, pause and be thankful for the blessings of God upon America.  Without his hand of blessing, we will not survive as a nation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Post Mortem on Election

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

Yeah, I know I was slightly off(about a 100) with my prediction of Romney getting 309 electoral votes.  Since last week’s election, many are offering their take on why Romney lost the election.  Here’s my analysis:

First, nationally Republicans concede too many demographics.  Political consultants advise candidates to ignore the minority voter because according to Karl Rove, “97% will vote Democrat.”  Ignoring minority voters just makes Rove’s observation a self fulfilling prophecy.  It is true that minorities vote overwhelming Democrat, but that wasn’t always the case.  During reconstruction most blacks were Republicans and as recent as 2004 Hispanics were voting R.  Republicans must reach out to those demographics if we are to ever win the White House again.  We can’t concede huge blocks of voters to the competition and expect to be successful. 

Second, Romney didn’t fire up the base. In order for a candidate to get elected, he must energize the base.  Party regulars must be excited about the candidate.  Romney failed to do that.  He was consistently boring during the primary, but his campaign organization was solid unlike his competitors.  He won the primary through organization, not through inspiration and momentum.  There is nothing wrong with organization and in fact it is a primary component in winning races, but you need an exciting candidate to get voters to the polls.  There was a creditability gap with Romney and social conservatives that he could never close.

Third, America has changed.  The American dream is not that you can come to this country, work hard, take personal responsibility and be successful.  The new American dream is now one where a large percentage of the population is on government assistance or working for the government.  The time has come where those who are dependent on government are able to vote into office whomever they want for President.  That is a sad fact, but one that hard working private sector citizens are going to have to face.  Government produces nothing- it is dependent completely on the private sector.  Government consumes- citizens produce.  That is a basic truth, but in the new America, such talk is heresy.  Government has become the ultimate reality for a large segment of the population.  In that altered reality, government provides employment, food, shelter, education, health care, and security.  Personal responsibility is de-emphasized and in fact discouraged.  We not only have stopped teaching a man to fish, but we have taken away his pole.

Fourth, hurricane Sandy helped President Obama.  During a major crisis, Americans want to see their government responding.  Obama effectively used the natural disaster to his advantage.  Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bear hugged the President and was extremely complimentary when the President visited his state after the storm.  That changed Obama from a candidate to a President and it the timing was to his advantage.  Granted all of the state hit by the storm were solid Obama states, but the media coverage of the President during the aftermath of the storm boosted his image in battleground states.

Fifth, the President did a good job of defining Romney and avoiding his record.    Whenever Romney would point out something about his record, the President would cry, “negative.”  Pointing out facts about an elected official’s record is not negative campaigning, but in our apathetic, sound bite driven world, critical thinking skills are not the norm.  I have never seen an incumbent run from his record more than the President did, but he did so quite effectively.  If you didn’t know better you would have thought Romney was the incumbent.  Obama’s record was never challenged in the media, but Romney was criticized unmercifully for being a success in the private sector. 

Sixth, social conservatives didn’t vote in high numbers.  Christian conservatives can win just about any election if they just turn out.  For a variety of reasons, many choose to stay home and not vote.  Many didn’t trust Romney and his position on abortion.  He just didn’t talk about it and if he did he danced around the issue. 

"What was presented as discipline by the Romney campaign by staying on one message, the economy, was a strategic error that resulted in a winning margin of pro-life votes being left on the table," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.

Some are saying the Republican Party has to change our message and positions on the issues if we are ever to recapture the White House.  It is not our platform that is the problem- it is the candidates we have been running.  We keep running safe candidates.  We need to take a bold step and run someone who will energize the base and get our voters to the polls.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The GOSPEL will change America!

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
The Gospel will change America!
by Steve Fair
    Nationally, I predict that Governor Romney will win election with 309 electoral votes, Republicans will pick up three seats in the US House and two seats in the US Senate.   But will that make a difference in America?

     To every candidate, the end of a campaign most often brings relief.  Campaigning is hard work and those who sign up for public office are courageous people.  Candidates put their time, talent and treasure into an effort to make a difference.  Only one gets to claim victory, but every candidate that throws their hat into the ring makes a difference.  They give the citizens a choice and without a choice, we get the same government we have always had. 

     I admire all candidates, no matter their party affiliation and even if I don’t agree with their position on the issues.  It takes courage to run for office.  After the last vote is counted, the results are announced, and the signs are gathered up, life goes back to normal for everyone except those who were elected.  They are now expected to serve and hopefully remember those promises they made during the campaign.  Governmental leaders should serve with an attitude of servitude.  All too often, elected officials don’t see themselves as servants, but they in fact work for us and do need to be reminded of that occasionally.

     Three principles that every American citizen should remember:

     First, God established government and those who won yesterday were put into that office by God.  He makes no mistakes and in fact everything that happens in a believers life is ultimately for his good according to Romans 8:28.  God sets up and brings down kings and rulers.  He was not surprised at the results of last night’s election.  He is in control.  He is the sovereign ruler of His creation.  While I do believe America is currently facing the ‘abandonment wrath’ of God on our country(the withdrawing of His blessings), rest assured God is in control. 

     Second, citizens should stay engaged in the process.  Why do we have corrupt leaders and a corrupt political system?  It’s because people only pay attention every two years for 90 days.  As Thomas Jefferson said, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”   You can’t take a month or a year off- you have to stay engaged in the process.  That means staying informed on the issues.  Politicians have a tendency to forget their campaign promises once the campaign is over.  It is the duty of citizens to hold them accountable and to call their hand when they vote wrong,   Christians should be the salt and light of society and when they fail to stay engaged in the process, America gets the kind of government we deserve. 

      Third, we will never change America by electing more conservatives or more Republicans or more Democrats.  Until we confront the root cause of our problem,-the moral decay of our society due to man’s fallen depraved nature- we are just treating the symptoms and not the disease.  The only cure for the disease is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christians should vote for politicos who will allow the gospel to have free reign in America.  

     Asked in the early 1980s by  Dr. R.C. Sproul  what the greatest threat to America was, Dr. Francis Schaeffer said it was “Statism.” Statism is when a society or government claims it is the ultimate reality.  This reality then replaces God as the supreme entity upon which human existence depends.  Throughout human history, governments have failed because they mistakenly believed they could change their direction by electing better men.  That never works.  The only hope for America is electing men who recognize that only God can change America and will allow the gospel free reign.