Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Weekly Opinion Editorial

By Steve Fair
Last week, the Affordable Care Act had a mixed week.  On Tuesday, the appeals court in the District of Columbia voted 2-1 that the IRS had went beyond the bounds of the ACC with subsidies given to those  who signed up for ObamaCare at healthcare.gov.  According to the ruling, the law only allowed subsidies if they were administrated by a state run health care exchange. Only fourteen states set up an healthcare exchange.   It is estimated that over 90% of those who have signed up for ObamaCare did so at the federal health exchange and without the federal subsidies, many of those will just drop their coverage.  The ruling has the potential to be devastating to the ACA, but supporters of ObamaCare take heart.  The ruling will be appealed to an eleven member appellate court made up of seven Ds and four Rs and given the nature of the beast, the lower court’s ruling will likely be overturned. 
A conflicting ruling on a similar lawsuit concerning subsidies was issued by the 4th district federal court of appeals in Richmond, Virginia.  They ruled the subsidies are legal, not matter where a person signed up.    No unexpectedly, President Obama said the subsidies will continue until the issue is worked out in court.
The legality of the subsidies has been the basis of Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s lawsuit over the ACA all along.  When other AGs across the country were challenging the law based on the commerce clause, Pruitt was saying the IRS did not have the legal right to impose tax penalties on employers with fifty or more employees who chose not to offer insurance coverage. 
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Pruitt said about the DC ruling; “This is a consequential ruling. I am delighted the D.C. circuit spoke as firmly and as clearly as they did. They even took note of the fact that as judges they were reticent and troubled to have to fashion the decision they did. But honesty required them to reach this result, because of the language of the law itself.” 
Some things to ponder about these two conflicting rulings:
First, the American taxpayer can ill afford these subsidies.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 87% of people who signed up for ObamaCare for this year qualified for subsidies, and on average those who signed up paid 76% less than the true cost of their plan. That means they pay $82 a month- the American taxpayer $294 of their $376 a month premium. President Obama and the Democrats haven’t lowered health care costs- they have simply shifted the financial burden from individuals to the taxpayer.  The American taxpayer has enough to pay without forcing them to subsidize their neighbor’s health insurance.  The ACA should be repealed. 
Second,  AG Scott Pruitt is on the right track.  When the vast majority of others were attacking the ACA from the commerce angle, he rightly understood the real Achilles heel in ObamaCare is subsidies.  No ruling has been issued in Pruitt’s suit, which was filed in the Eastern federal district court of Oklahoma, but the winners in the DC case used his same argument.
Third, these ‘activist’ judiciary rulings are destroying America.  The three branches of government in American government are supposed to be separate, but equal.  They are to provide a ‘balance of power.’  What unfortunately has evolved is an activist federal judiciary that legislates from the bench. In his interview with Capitalbeatok, Pruitt said, “The job of judges is to say what the law is, not what they wish it were. I believe the Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. did a great job. This is a great ruling keeping separation of powers intact and upholding the plain meaning of law.” 

Fourth, it’s time the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to do their job. That’s right- Congress has the power, authority and responsibility to make sure the judiciary is interpreting the law and and not making it. Congress can impeach federal judges. Article 3, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that federal judges shall hold their office ‘during good behavior.’  I can assure you many of the federal judiciary- from district court to the Supreme Court- across America are misbehaving and their misbehavior is destroying our way of life.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     An earmark is a legislative provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects. There are two types- Individual legislative earmarks and earmarks of specific funds by the legislature to fund specific projects.  Individual legislative earmarks are nothing more than ‘reelection tokens.’  An individual legislative earmark allows an incumbent elected official brags about how much taxpayer dollars he or she brought back to the district and the grateful constituents reward them with their votes.  It’s a disgusting practice that is unfortunately defended by conservatives and liberals alike.  One prominent Republican lawmaker argued with me about earmarks stating that elected officials were given the ‘power of the purse.’  The same elected official says the moratorium on earmarks has given more power to President Obama.  But the power of the purse is not given to legislators individually, but collectively.  No elected official should be given the absolute sovereign authority to determine a public project is worthy of funding or not worthy.  If a project deserves funding, let it go through the regular budgetary process.  Thankfully, earmarks at the federal level have lost their popularity because of lawmakers like Senator Coburn and others who refuse to take earmarks.
     Another type of earmark is one that directs revenue into a specific fund or to a specific project.  An example of this type of earmark in Oklahoma is HB # 1017.  Passed and signed into law in 1990, #1017 was challenged and Oklahoma voters rejected repealing the new law in a 1991 statewide vote (54% to 46%).  HB#1017 increased by ½ cent and directed the increase to common education.  #1017 also increased the state corporate income tax by 1% with the increase being earmarked for education.  It’s debatable as to how effective #1017 has been in improving education in the Sooner state.  Student test scores have certainly not risen as much as taxes since 1990 and classroom teachers still remain near the bottom in the U.S. in pay, but nevertheless #1017 is the will of the people. 
     Another earmark is one for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.  In 2006, ODOT came up with a plan that would allocate six billion dollars of state revenue- OFF THE TOP- for road and bridges in the state over an eight year period.  After Republicans took control of the legislature, they begin the task of addressing the state’s long neglected infrastructure(crumbling roads and bridges) and the eight year plan was passed and signed into law.  Good legislation and good policy for a state that had led the nation in diversion of federal highway funds to other uses.
     In a recent editorial, The Oklahoman attacked the ‘earmarks’ and advocated changing the legislative budgeting process in Oklahoma, but offered no details on what to change.  They wrote that Oklahoma tax revenue, ending June 30th, was up $469 million; however monies going into the state General Revenue account was up less than 1/3 of 1%.  The Oklahoman rightly said this gives the impression the state’s economy is flat, when in fact it is doing well. Their point is if a taxpayer is not paying attention, he might get the impression state government is broke when just the opposite is true.  Good points, but do we need to eliminate ‘earmarks?’  Two thoughts:
     First, what the numbers actually show is the 2014 state legislature had very little increased money to ‘appropriate,’ this year.  Oklahoma state government revenue is around $11 billion annually, but the legislature only gets to dole out $7 billion.   That is not necessarily a bad thing.  If we want state government to be ‘streamlined and efficient,’ then giving the legislature less money to operate state government has to be a good thing.  Forcing state agencies to find ways to do more with less is good policy.
     Second, not all earmarks are created equal.  Using the two examples cited above; #1017 is the will of the people and a part of the state constitution.  It must be funded.  The eight year ODOT plan is state law and would require legislative action to be changed.  How is setting aside money for a worthy cause- OFF THE TOP- a bad thing?  The Oklahoman was critical of these earmarks because, “they were outside the budgetary process.”  But both of these earmarks have not been a part of the budgetary process for several years.  Why question them now?  Are they proposing that #1017 be repealed?  Do they want the eight year ODOT and education funding be reviewed every year by the legislature? That would be a step backward in Oklahoma.  Taking money OFF THE TOP for priority spending is good policy. 
      The term ‘earmark’ has rightfully earned a bad reputation- think ‘bridge to nowhere,’ but these particular earmarks are ones that are the will of the people of Oklahoma. They aren’t reelection tokens.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

      President Obama has requested $3.7 billion dollars to spend on the immigration situation at our southern borders.   “Our view as House Republicans is that we're not going to write a blank check,” Congressman Mike McCaul, (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said.  The vast majority of the money the President is requesting would go for humanitarian needs with very little for border security and none for deportation. 
     Since April, over 250,000 underage children have made their way to the southern border and surrendered to U.S. Border Patrol agents.  Fort Sill is housing 1,200 of them.  American taxpayers are paying for their food, healthcare, and housing.  Congressman Tom Cole, (R-Oklahoma) has repeatedly said the military installation should not be used for housing illegal immigrations.  Cole tweeted last week; “HHS recently requested expanded & longer use of DoD facilities to house illegal minors swarming our borders.  As suspected, the president’s "temporary" plan to use military bases for housing illegals is looking permanent.“    
     On the other side of the aisle, the view is much different.  Democrat House leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calfornia) said this after visiting a facility housing the illegals: "This crisis that some call a crisis, we have to view as an opportunity," Pelosi said. "If you believe as we do that every child, every person has a spark of divinity in them, and is therefore worthy of respect -- what we saw in those rooms was [a] dazzling, sparkling, array of God's children, worthy of respect."   Pelosi is a little off on her theology and obviously doesn’t subscribe to the ‘fallen nature’ of mankind.  For more on this critical issue- the depravity of man- go to http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/depravity.html.  As I have often said, how an elected official views the nature of man will dictate how they will govern.  Pelosi is clearly has an unbiblical worldview if she believes that man has a 'spark of divinity' that merely needs fanning.  Man has a wicked sin nature and without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit will never seek to find God.  Any elementary student of scripture would know that, yet one of the most powerful members of Congress doesn't.  Pelosi also said this is an opportunity for the U.S. to address true immigration reform.  Pelosi and most Democrats favor unconditional amnesty for illegals.    
     Here are some points to ponder on the current immigration situation.
     First, this ‘crisis’ was created by President Obama and the Democrats.  Current U.S. policy allows Mexican child migrants to be sent back quickly across the border. However, under a 2008 bill meant to combat child trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, children from Central America must be given a court hearing before they are deported. Given the huge backlog of cases, they usually have to wait years for a hearing.  To add fuel to the fire, in 2012, five months before his 2012 re-election, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deportations of more than a half-million young adults, often referred to as "Dreamers," brought illegally to the U.S. as children.  Most were from Mexico.  Hispanics subsequently turned out to vote in record numbers and more than 70 percent marked their ballots for Obama — helping him win the popular vote and triumph in key battleground states.  Make no mistake about it- Democrats see the current immigration crisis as a political opportunity to gain the upper hand in future elections, especially in Texas and Arizona.  This is more about elections than anything else.
     Second, most of those crossing the southern border are in violation of published immigration policy.  The Department of Homeland Security website lists an array of restrictions on those wishing to enter the United States.  Among those barred are people with “a communicable disease of public health significance.”  HHS has admitted that many of those flooding our southern border have, or are suspected of having, such diseases.  The restrictions also include children who haven’t received vaccinations for certain types of diseases, including “mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and the flu.  Do you believe the kids pouring across our borders are carrying with them proof of vaccinations?  Yet they are being allowed to stay.  The Obama administration has no respect for the rule of law.
      Third, the first and best course of action to start to fix this mess is to secure our borders.  Peggy Noonan wisely wrote that ‘a nation is not a nation with a border.’  Currently we have no southern border.  Texas Governor Rick Perry has called for sending National Guardsmen to the border until more U.S. Border Patrol agents are trained and ready for action.  Congressman McCaul has said the House Republicans are hoping to pass a bill to change the 2008 law that has created this mess.  They hope to do it before the August recess.  But with the Ds in the charge of the Senate, its unlikely Harry Reid will give it a vote on the Senate floor.  Illegal is defined as; ‘contrary to or forbidden by law.’  America is a nation of laws and when an immigrate illegally enters our country, they are breaking the law.  No matter how sick or poor they are or how desperate their situation is, they are still breaking the law.  America is a land of opportunity and we are a nation of immigrates- LEGAL IMMIGRATES.  If any money is spent on this situation, it should be to send these lawbreakers back to their home country.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

   The Common Core battle continues.  Last week a lawsuit was filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court naming the state of Oklahoma, the state legislature and the Oklahoma Department of Education as defendants.  The lawsuit alleges that HB # 3399, which repealed Common Core in Oklahoma, violated the state constitution (Section 8- Article5) because the legislature doesn’t have the authority to set school standards. 
     The suit was filed by former U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell on behalf of four state school board members who said HB #3399 violated the state constitution in two ways.  He said the first is, “When you’re constructing the new standards, the State Board of Education has the constitutional power to do that. However, House Bill 3399 would have the legislature encroaching on that authority and taking control of that process.”  McCampbell also said the bill violated the state constitution’s ‘separation of powers,’ provision.  He said he believed the legislature can ‘make recommendations’ or ‘disapprove’ of curriculum, but they can’t get down to the details like HB #3399 does. 
     McCampbell said, “Will students learn double-digit arithmetic spring of first grade or fall of second grade? When students are writing their first research paper are they going to be taught Chicago style footnotes or APA style footnotes? Those kind of decisions need to be made by educators not the legislature.”
     Representative Jason Nelson, (R-OKC), who co-authored the original Common Core bill said, “All the things that he (McCampbell) said we can’t do, we did in 2010 and now we are repealing it. So nobody complained then and I don’t understand why they are complaining now.”  Four observations:
     First, Oklahoma parents don’t want Common Core!  During the fight over the repeal of Common Core, state legislators reported calls to their offices ran 10-1 in favor of repealing Common Core.  HB#3399 was the clear will of the people.  What some members of the state school board fail to grasp is parents don’t oppose standards, but they don’t want the federal Department of Education imposing the standards on local school districts in Oklahoma.  And Oklahoma parents are not alone.  In Louisiana, Governor Jindel just signed an executive order repealing Common Core.  As more and more information about Common Core becomes known to parents, they have rejected it throughout the U.S.  It took a while for the Oklahoma legislators to get it, but finally they also understand the people don’t want Common Core- period. 
     Second, Oklahoma parents want standards!  The state school board does have the right and responsibility for establishing standards in Oklahoma’s public schools.  Those standards should be enforced and children shouldn’t just be promoted to the next grade when they can’t do the work.  I have not spoken to one parent who opposes Common Core that wants no standards in Oklahoma public schools.  What they don’t want is the federal government doing it.  HB #3399 directs the state school board and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish Oklahoma standards.
     Third, the Oklahoma Supreme Court is wildly unpredictable!  In the past year, they have ruled in a very inconsistent matter on similar ‘logrolling’cases.  A majority of the justices on the Supreme Court were appointed by Democrat Governors and therefore lean to the left.  The court could very well rule HB#3399 unconstitutional, but if that happens, they are ‘legislating from the bench.’  That is why we need judicial term limits in Oklahoma.  Another subject for another time. 
     Fourth, the suit will hinge on what are the prescribed “powers and duties,” of the state school board.  The state constitution says in Section 8, Article 5, The supervision of instructions in the public schools shall be vested in a Board of Education whose powers and duties shall be prescribed by law.  So where does the state school board get their authority?  The constitution says from ‘law.’  Who makes laws? The legislature.  Who in their right mind thinks an appointed board should have more authority than a body of elected officials?  Evidently, some misguided state school board members.
     Most Oklahomans thought their local school board and school administration ran their local district, but with the passage of the Oklahoma School Code of 1971, the state school board was established.  There are seven members of the state school board; the State Superintendent(who serves as Chair and is the only elected official on the board, five members from the five Congressional districts and one at-large member.  SIX OF THE SEVEN STATE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS ARE NOT ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE!
     The state Supreme Court is expected to make their decision next week.  The battle continues for the hearts and minds of our young people.  Common Core has less to do about standards and much to do about control.