Christian Coalition

A government report shows food prices jumped last month and there's concern the trend may continue. That, coupled with rising gas prices, is forcing many families to find new ways to stretch their budget.

Gekima Robinson likes to cook bacon for her kids, especially on important test days. But she hasn't purchased much lately.

"That pack here used to be $5. Now it's $10 almost," she said.

Rising food prices are also putting a dent in what used to be a profitable breakfast business at Norma's Café.

"We're looking at record prices from beef, bacon, orange juice and eggs," café owner Bill Ziegler said.

Analysts say bad weather -- including record-setting drought in California, Brazil, Mexico, and West Africa -- has factored into rising food prices.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are also contributing to higher grocery bills. That's because Ukraine exports substantial amounts of corn, wheat, and sunflower oil to the United States.

The Consumer Price Index released Tuesday showed food prices rose by .4 percent in March compared to overall prices, which rose .2 percent.

The biggest increases are being seen in eggs, milk, butter, oranges, pork, ground beef, and poultry.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts food prices will rise between 2.5 and 3.5 percent this year. But many analysts say it could be worse than predicted.

In addition, higher prices at the pump are hitting many consumers.

The average price for gas nationally rose to $3.69 a gallon, up nearly 10 cents in the past two weeks and 4 percent from a year ago.

"I'm not happy because I travel an hour to work. But I gotta deal with it I guess," one motorist said.

Analysts say U.S. refiners are shipping more gas to other countries, increasing global competition for U.S.-produced fuel.

Consequently, prices may not come down anytime soon. That's tough news for many Americans who are eager to hit the road this summer after being cooped up during a record-setting cold winter.

Democrats are being advised not to talk about an "economic recovery" in their election campaigns.

In an election year memo, Stan Greenberg and James Carville, the party's leading political strategists, call the topic a political loser.

They pointed out that in head-to-head polling, Republicans win the issue by simply pointing out the Obama administration has failed to get the economy moving in its six years in office.

The memo also advises the Democratic groups, Democracy Corps and Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, to push an economic agenda that "puts working women first" to boost voter turnout among their target groups.

President Obama and other officials like to point to projections by the Congressional Budget Office to show that ObamaCare "is working," as the president put it.

He said 8 million have enrolled in the federal exchanges, but the CBO said in a recent report only 6 million are newly insured and some say even fewer than that did not have prior insurance.

"Twenty to 33 percent are actually newly insured and out of 8 million, that would be no more than 2 to 3 million people," said David Hogberg of National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington.

That is why the CBO showed that at the end of this year, there will still be 42 million uninsured and 31 million without insurance ten years from now.

Not only that, but starting in 2018, the CBO report projected the total getting coverage from the exchange will hit 25 million, although at the same time 12 million will lose coverage.

Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute said, "So net, you're left with 13 million people who end up on private coverage over the next decade as a result of ObamaCare, and this is according to the Congressional Budget Office's own estimates."  

He also said that since more than 5 million have already lost their existing coverage, the 12 million losing their coverage in the future is likely to be a much higher number.

"So I'm hard pressed to believe that over the next decade," Gottlieb said, "there's only going to be 12 million people moved out of private market coverage or the small group or individual market into ObamaCare."

In the meantime, the administration still insists it does not know how many people have actually paid their first premiums, which makes them officially enrolled. Analysts, however, have said all they have to do is ask.

"Every insurance company knows exactly how many people it has insured who have paid their premiums by the first of every month," said Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates.

"All the administration has to do is go to the insurance companies that are participating in ObamaCare." 

In fact, Georgia's insurance commissioner recently announced that of 220,000 applications, only 107,000 have actually paid -- a rate of less than 50 percent -- and almost all were offered subsidies.

Ralph Hudgens, the insurance commissioner, said the number who applied is well short of the 650,000 who were eligible for subsidies.

Most insurance companies have said 15 to 20 percent were not paying, so Georgia's experience could be a troubling sign.

WASHINGTON -- So far this year, every cent Americans have earned has gone to pay for the costs of government and social programs.
    
As Americans mark April 21, Tax Freedom Day, many say it's a crime that citizens spend so much of their year working to pay Washington's bills.
 
"This year it's going to take Americans 111 days to pay their total tax bill for the year," Kyle Pomerleau, an economist with the Tax Foundation, said.

For the first four months of 2014, American labor has strictly gone to pay taxes until April 21. Contrast that to the American workers of 1900, who only had to work till Jan. 22 to pay off their taxes. 
 
"We'll be paying $3 trillion to the federal government through individual income taxes, payroll taxes, and corporate income taxes, (and) an additional $1.5 trillion to state and local governments through sales taxes, excise taxes, and income taxes to our states," Pomerleau explained.
 
This year, just over 30 percent of Americans' income goes to paying the costs of government and social programs. But in 1900, Americans saw less than 6 percent of their income eaten up by taxes.

Most citizens now actually pay more for government than they do for their food, their homes, and their clothes.

"This year we'll be paying a total tax bill of $4.5 trillion. This is more than we pay as a nation on food, clothing, and housing combined," Pomerlau said.
 
A new poll shows most Americans, 52 percent, feel taxes are too high.
 
However, 42 percent feel they're just about right, and 3 percent of Americans actually feel their taxes are too low.
 
Meanwhile, if you feel your overall taxes went up, you're not imagining it. The fiscal cliff deal Washington politicians worked out at the start of 2013 has raised the taxes of more than three-fourths of Americans.
 
In addition, the first two of several Obamacare tax hikes has taken effect, meaning Americans won't be getting any tax relief in the near future.

The White House allegedly was involved in seeking financial support for a pro-ObamaCare group, according to a new report issued in response to Republican concerns about the administration's fundraising efforts. 

Until now, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was the only official known to have solicited financial support for Enroll America, a nonprofit that promoted enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. But a Government Accountability Office report released Monday detailed not only the secretary's involvement but that of a White House adviser. 

According to the report, though HHS officials said they were "not aware" of any federal government officials outside the agency soliciting funds for Enroll America, a representative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation told GAO "about a discussion" in 2012 between one of their staffers and the "Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy." 

Though not named in the report, this would have been Jeanne Lambrew. The GAO said they were told the official nudged the foundation to give a "significant" contribution. 

The report said: "According to RWJF, this official estimated that Enroll America or other similar national enrollment organizations would likely need about $30 million to finance a national outreach effort. RWJF told us that the official also indicated a hope that RWJF would provide a significant financial contribution to support such efforts, but did not make a specific funding request on behalf of Enroll America or any other outside entity." 

The White House apparently pushed back on this account, telling the GAO that the adviser did not give the foundation a specific estimate of how much money they needed. 

"They further stated that a reference to financial support like that suggested by RWJF was possible, but in connection with broad strategic discussions
related to national outreach efforts that included discussions of both financial and nonfinancial support for such efforts," the report said. 

Republicans have long questioned these solicitations, voicing concern that they got around congressional limits on spending for the health law and might have breached ethical guidelines. The GAO did not issue a legal opinion or any recommendations in its report. 

The report detailed Sebelius' involvement, saying she reached out to the CEOs of five organizations to "solicit support" for Enroll America. One of them was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which made a $3 million grant and a $10 million grant after the call with Sebelius. The foundation, though, reported that the decision to award the money was "not made in response to the Secretary's call." 

H&R Block was also solicited for funds, though did not end up making a contribution. 

Further, Sebelius reached out to three groups that HHS regulates -- Kaiser, Ascension Health and Johnson & Johnson. However, she reportedly did not seek financial support from them. Rather, she sought "nonfinancial support such as technical assistance." 

Kaiser and Ascension Health gave money to Enroll America anyway. 

According to the GAO, Sebelius sought guidance from the agency's Office of the General Counsel, which apparently said HHS officials could seek support for outside groups.

Christian radio broadcaster James Dobson won a temporary injunction against Obamacare on Thursday.

The decision prevents the federal government from requiring his ministry to include certain contraceptive or abortion-inducing drugs, including the morning-after pill, in its health insurance package.

In December, Dobson sued over the mandate, saying providing the drugs violates the religious beliefs of Family Talk, a nationally syndicated radio show with close to 30 employees.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering similar challenges from other employers, including Hobby Lobby.

Most voters think the White House is trying to cover-up what happened in Benghazi and want Congress to continue to investigate the administration’s handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate there that killed four Americans. 

That’s according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.

Sixty percent of voters want lawmakers to keep investigating what happened in Benghazi. That’s down from 65 percent who felt that way in November, and a high of 73 percent in early June 2013. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POLL RESULTS.

A third opposes Congress continuing to investigate the attack (34 percent).

The 2012 attack took place in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

Senators Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., repeated their request March 31 for a Joint Select Committee to be appointed to investigate what happened in Benghazi. The senators also released a list of “unanswered questions on Benghazi attack” at a press conference April 9 -- several days after former acting CIA Director Michael Morell testified in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence April 2. McCain said Morell’s testimony raised more questions than it answered. 

The number of voters wanting the investigation to continue is down among Democrats, Republicans and independents. For Democrats, 42 percent say the investigation should continue, down from a high of 58 percent who said the same in early June 2013.

Among Republicans, 77 percent want Congress to keep looking into the attack, down from a high of 93 percent (June 9-11, 2013).

For independents, it is 61 percent today, down from a high of 74 percent (June 22-24, 2013). 

By a margin of 61-26 percent, voters believe that the White House is “trying to cover-up” what happened in Benghazi rather than “being open and transparent.” Those views are mostly unchanged since last year.

About a third of Democrats (33 percent), two-thirds of independents (66 percent) and almost all Republicans (87 percent) say the Obama administration is hiding something on Benghazi.

Veterans (64 percent) and non-veterans (61 percent) alike see a cover-up. 

Who is to blame for what happened at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi? Fifty-five percent blame former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton “a great deal” (26 percent) or “some” (29 percent) for what happened at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. That’s down from 60 percent who felt she was at least somewhat responsible earlier this year (January 2014).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,012 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 13-15, 2014. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

"He is risen!"

Matthew 28

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

JERUSALEM, Israel -- After cancelling Wednesday's meeting, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are meeting again Thursday.

Wednesday's meeting would have taken place at the same time that slain Police Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi, shot dead by an Arab terrorist on the eve of Passover, was being laid to rest.  P.A. officials said the U.S. requested the postponement.

Mizrahi was buried Wednesday afternoon in Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl cemetery. His widow, Hadas, appealed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to release more Arab terrorists.

As the funeral was taking place, several left-wing lawmakers were meeting with P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Right-wing MK Ofir Akunis said it was "unfortunate that while the victim of the terror attack is being buried in Jerusalem, MKs from Labor and Meretz found time to once again grovel to Abbas in Ramallah," the Jerusalem Post reported.

But despite all the posturing, P.A officials now say they're ready to continue the U.S.-brokered talks, an eventuality some predicted.

Earlier this month, Udi Segal, chief diplomatic correspondent for Israel's Channel 2, said Abbas would probably extend the talks because he didn't have "much to gain by breaking the rules right now." Segal said people in the State Department and even the White House "are starting to understand that Netanyahu is not the problem."

On Wednesday, Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh told reporters the two sides had already agreed to continue meeting after April 29, when Secretary of State John Kerry's nine-month timeframe expires.

"No one is talking about an explosion or a breakdown in talks," Rudaineh said, a statement that negates previous statements by P.A. chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who vowed talks would not continue one day -- or even one hour -- past the April deadline.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Media Watch posted a bulletin Thursday exposing the P.A.'s pattern of glorifying terrorists to the Palestinians while condemning terror to Israelis.

 

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Sen. Marco Rubio is questioning why a key State Department position that promotes religious freedom around the world has been left vacant for months, calling the delay a “concern.”

In a letter to President Obama Tuesday, Rubio, R-Fla., said he finds it troubling that no new ambassador-at-large has been appointed for the Office of International Religious Freedom since Suzan Johnson Cook’s resignation six months ago.

The office within the State Department develops policies regarding religious freedom and monitors religious discrimination and persecution worldwide. The department also releases an annual report on international religious freedom, which discusses the state of religious freedom in every country in the world.

Rubio said these important tasks require a highly-qualified individual be appointed to the post as soon as possible. He told Obama it is essential that the U.S. continue to be a “beacon of hope for all persecuted religious minorities.”  

“In your speech to the National Prayer Breakfast you explained that ‘promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy’ because it is in America’s interest to promote universal human rights, including with our allies,” Rubio said. “In order to display the United States’ dedication to religious freedom, we must have an Ambassador-At-Large in place to lead our efforts around the world.”

At the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 6, Obama said is he looking forward to appointing a new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, but gave no indication when he may do so.