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The Point Washington Update - August 22, 2013

In this edition of The Point:

Article/Commentary #1

From Freedom2Care blog by CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody, Aug. 8, 2013:

Tolerance. Diversity. Broad-mindedness. Those are the words.

Bullying. Discriminating. Compelling. Those are the deeds.

The contradictory words and deeds often come from one and the same individuals--and in a case I learned about today, companies. Turns out the words of tolerance, diversity and broad-mindedness only apply to those who comply with the dogma and submit to the will of the speakers.

Here’s an email I received this morning from a pharmacist member of the Christian Medical Association:

"Subject: Forced to resign over mandate to sell the morning after pill.

"Just to let you know that Rite-Aid corporation came out with a stricter policy on July 5, 2013 that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to all comers, of either gender and of any age. I tendered my resignation within the hour, it was accepted, and my last work day is July 20th. I realize that I am an 'at will' employee and I do not expect any recourse. Just for your information to add me to the list of those quitting pharmacy solely because of the policy change. Keep up the good work. The battle rages. The Lord is able to supply our needs."

Remember that even the Obama administration health department opposed the unlimited sale of the morning-after pill, citing health concerns. So presumably, even the radically pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid.

Unfortunately, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama trashed the only federal regulation protecting healthcare professionals from discrimination and firings for reasons of conscience. They and other abortion advocates also can't seem to muster enough liberality to support the tolerant, diversity-respecting and broad-minded principles of the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act (S 1204 and HR 940).

While the regulation and the law apply specifically to government-funded programs, each can help establish an environment of true respect for conscience, tolerance and diversity that will protect health care professionals nationwide. Until then, pharmacists, obstetricians and family docs who still adhere to the Hippocratic oath and faith tenets remain subject to job loss, discrimination and ostracism for their life-affirming views.

Article/Commentary #2

Excerpted from "Critics of contraception mandate vow Supreme Court appeal," The Hill, Aug. 14, 2013 - Critics of the contraception mandate in President Obama’s healthcare law said they will appeal to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court declined to re-hear their case Wednesday.

Alliance for Defending Freedom, one of the organizations challenging the contraception mandate in the courts, said it will ask the Supreme Court to consider whether the mandate is unconstitutional.

“Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith," Alliance for Defending Freedom said in a statement vowing to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Article #3

Excerpted from "Taming the tax code beast," Washington Post column by George F. Will, August 09, 2013 - “Colleagues,” said the June 27 letter to 98 U.S. senators, “now it is your turn.” The letter’s authors are Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman and ranking Republican, respectively, on the tax-writing Finance Committee. From their combined 71 years on Capitol Hill they know that their colleagues will tiptoe gingerly, if at all, onto the hazardous terrain of tax reform.

Together with Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) of the House Ways and Means Committee, Baucus and Hatch propose a “blank slate” approach, erasing all deductions and credits — currently worth more than $1 trillion a year — and requiring legislators to justify reviving them. Hence the Baucus-Hatch letter, in response to which almost 70 senators sent more than 1,000 pages of suggestions. Although some often were short on specificity, the submissions were given encrypted identification numbers and locked in a safe, as befits dangerous documents.

Baucus still hopes to bring Congress to an “all join hands and jump together” moment, “a tipping point where there is a sense of inevitability.”

Commentary #3

CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: In his column, George Will neglects to note that when Committee leaders put every tax deduction on the table, they opened the door to misdirected assaults on charity. I have been meeting on the Hill this month with U.S. senators (Thune, Hatch and Wyden) and staff on the Senate Finance Committee and the powerful House Ways and Means Committee to convince them not to tax money that people give away to charities. Doing so only transfers money from the hands of citizens and cost-effective charities to the government--and we know how well that works.

Faith-based organizations would get hit hardest under any of the current schemes secretly floated by Members of Congress. Cutting the charitable gift tax deduction would decrease giving and cut an estimated $140 billion in charitable services to needy Americans. Since the government would have to take up the cost for lost social services, any tax revenue gained from cutting deductions would be more than lost to new program costs. The result would be a deeper deficit, bigger government and less efficient and effective care.

Yet the prospect of targeting the charitable gift tax deduction has become alarmingly clear in my meetings with senators and staff. One of the most insidious cuts under consideration would eliminate deductions for gifts to charities such as universities, the arts and churches, which in the opinion of some do not provide sufficient tangible services to be deemed a "public benefit."

The 100-year-old tax deduction for gifts given "exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific or educational purposes" enforces the First Amendment's proscription against government infringement of the free exercise of religion. Imagine the IRS determining which churches and faith-based charities merit approval for tax deductions. Congress should take aim at real tax reform while protecting charity and those who depend on it. Charity is not a loophole; it's a lifeline.

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