- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

If President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner really hurry, they can tie the “fiscal cliff” to 12/12/12 — as in Dec. 12, 2012, a Wednesday filled with “once in a lifetime” buzz, and the final alliteration date of the century.

Herman Cain, after all, got much publicity mileage with his handy-dandy “9-9-9” tax-plan slogan. Besides, preliminary groundwork for a convenient 12/12/12 tie-in already has been laid by none other than Newt Gingrich, who repeatedly has suggested that the fiscal cliff is not a single looming cliff, but rather a series of foothills.

“This whole fiscal cliff language is designed to maximize a sense of fear. That’s nonsense. The very same people, the Congress and the president, who invented the fiscal cliff — this is all an invention — could break it down into 12 foothills, or 15 foothills or 20 foothills. They could tackle one problem at the time,” Mr. Gingrich recently told Fox News.

Well then, let’s make it 12 foothills, each defining a specific fiscal woe. Next, we need 12 smart people to come up with the solutions, rather than two lone guys glaring at one another under the media microscope. And last but not least, the 12 experts have 12 days to reach a compromise, which means they step forward with an announcement on Christmas Eve, well within the prescribed deadline. Voila, 12/12/12, the solution, or at least, the motto du jour.

KEEPING THE FAITH

Concerned Catholics and evangelicals have company. Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Mennonite-owned, Pennsylvania-based cabinetmaker employing 950 people, has filed a federal lawsuit charging that the mandate on contraception coverage contained in the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. The suit states, “It’s sinful and immoral for the company to participate in, pay for, facilitate or otherwise support any contraception.” There are 43 similar cases brought against the federal government for violation of First Amendment rights.

“The issue of conscience rights has always been a bipartisan issue. The mandate shatters this consensus and undermines religious liberty for people of all faiths. It is absolutely no surprise that we see people of so many different faiths challenging this unjust law,” says Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser with The Catholic Association.

“Americans should take note of this administration’s systematic erosion of our freedom of religion as well as the wide range of individuals and groups whose rights have been trampled by the mandate. They recognize that the anti-religious-liberty trend will only continue if the government is left unchecked. And that means any individual or group is vulnerable,” adds Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with the organization.

CHRISTMAS WARS

“Yes Virginia, there is no God.”

(New sign aboard public buses in Anchorage, Alaska, as of Monday, from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation)

FOOD STAMP WARS

“They are on a determined effort to expand the number of people who get on welfare — on food stamps — even if they don’t want to be on food stamps. They have a brochure telling people what to say when people say, ‘I don’t need food stamps,’ to get them to sign up for food stamps.”

(Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, commenting on U.S. Department of Agriculture policy before the Senate floor on Tuesday.)

SAID AND DONE

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