Blog Search on 4C Media

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care Bill Fails Constitutional Test

Don't Let the Facts Get in the Way   [Orrin Hatch]
Faced with plummeting public support, the White House is engaged in a scorched-earth PR campaign to justify its failure to listen to the majority of the American people who oppose this $2.5 trillion health-care bill. They've even started attacking my opposition to the unconstitutional federal individual mandate citing legislation that was introduced as an alternative to Hillarycare back in the 1990s.

To be clear, I supported this alternative to President Clinton's massive federal takeover of the American health-care system, because my number-one priority was the defeat of yet another big-government assault on health care that the people of Utah overwhelmingly opposed. It's that simple.

In the intervening years, I went back and carefully examined, in close consultation with constitutional experts, the legal problems with many of the bills being supported at the time. This needed to be done, because of the hasty nature of the debate which was thrust upon us in 1994. It is simply a fact that Congress has never imposed this kind of mandate before. We concluded, as would any intelligent scholar of the Constitution, that this federal mandate requiring Americans to either purchase health insurance or face a punitive tax exceeds the authority the Constitution has given to Congress.

I have gone to great lengths on the Senate floor, in newspaper columns, and elsewhere to explain my conclusions, because I believe that this is a very important debate. Something, I might add, this administration has not even begun to do because they don't seem to care whether the proposals they support are Constitutional or not.

In contrast, I believe our liberty still requires limits on government, and I am glad that the country is today debating constitutional as well as policy issues. We would all be better off if more "policy experts" took this rational approach.

It's regrettable that instead of examining the legality of their health-care monstrosity, the administration and its allies are simply going on a smear campaign. From one experienced legislator, let me give Washington one very important piece of advice: Don't think you are right 100 percent of the time with everything you do. Arrogance and power are a terrible mix, and one the American people will not support.

One thing is clear: When the legislative battle ends, the legal battles will begin. There's no disputing that fact.

— Orrin Hatch is a Republican United States senator from Utah.

And released from the Senator's office, on his web site 3.24.10

WASHINGTON – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, today said he supports Utah joining with other states to sue the federal government over a provision in the $2.5 trillion bill that requires every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced today that Utah will join other states in challenging the constitutionality of the health care bill adopted by the House on Sunday and by the Senate in December. Hatch said a challenge on constitutional grounds is in order.
“Congress has overstepped its legal authority by telling Utahns and other Americans that they must buy health insurance or else,” Hatch said. “The Constitution empowers Congress to regulate interstate commerce, but not to tell Americans what they can buy. And this is just one of the constitutionally suspect provisions in the legislation. So I commend Mark Shurtleff’s and other state attorney generals’ plan to challenge this unconstitutional Washington mandate that encroaches on states’ rights and Utahns’ personal liberty, and I will do all I can to assist them in their efforts.”  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care Bill Wobbles

Wobbly from House, Health Care Bill Fuzzy in Senate

While it is likely that the Democrats in the House will see a narrow majority on the “deem pass” Senate Health Care bill and the second vote on “related fixes” on Sunday, the US Senate is another story.   And if any part of the fragile coalition of nervous Democrat legislators (liberal, moderate or socialist) sees the reality that the American people to do not support the messy, costly and socialistic Health Care bill, their votes may be peeled off as political reality sets it.  The US Senate is a labyrinth of tradition, rules and parliamentary procedures that mystifies most people outside the upper chamber.

From ABC News….Z. Byron Wolf reporting 3.21.2010 

Should the House pass the Senate bill and the package of reconciliation fix-its tonight, Senators will take over the reconciliation fix-its as soon as Tuesday.
That will set in motion a week or longer parliamentary floor battle with points of order, references to the budget act, the Byrd Rule and more.
For an appetizer, take a look at Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Judd Gregg’s statement tonight.
“Immediately after receiving the final reconciliation bill language, Senate Republican staff was ready and willing to meet with Senate Democratic staff and the Senate Parliamentarian to discuss the fact that the House reconciliation bill may be brought down by the 310(g) point of order in the Senate. Senate Democrats are mysteriously unavailable until after the House votes on the health care bill tonight. The Senate Democrats appear to be pushing off this meeting so that House Democrats will remain in the dark about what is likely to happen to the reconciliation bill on which many have staked their careers in Congress. House Democrats should be alarmed by this latest development, since the survival of the reconciliation bill is clearly at risk in the Senate.”
If Republicans can get the parliamentarian to agree with them even once, whatever ultimately passes the Senate will have to go back to the House. And Democrats in the House quietly admit that its very likely they will have to vote again on the reconciliation fixes at some point down the road.

Meanwhile, the US taxpayer should be very nervous that instead a supposed cost savings, the Democrats are still pushing Health Care insurance legislative that bends the cost curve up (higher costs, more taxes, less quality health care).    In response to Republican leaders, the Chief Actuary for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notified them as follows:

WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama administration’s chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notified Republican leaders Saturday that the “very tight time frame” and “complexity” of the Democrats’ health spending bill would prevent them from fully analyzing the costs and efficacy of the bill before the House voted on the legislation. The letter was in response to a request from House and Senate Republicans.
The Chief Actuary, Richard S. Foster, wrote: “In your letter, you requested that we provide the updated actuarial estimates in time for your review prior to the expected House debate and vote on this legislation on March 21,2010. I regret that my staff and I will not be able to prepare our analysis within this very tight time frame, due to the complexity of the legislation.”
Foster and his staff analyzed the Senate-passed bill and determined that it bent the cost curve up, estimating in a January 8 report that national health expenditures would increase by an estimated total of $222 billion, and that the additional demand for health services “could be difficult to meet” and “could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, and/or changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage.” Foster, in his letter today, expects the new health spending bill to be “generally similar.”
House Republican Leader John Boehner said: “The House of Representatives should not vote blindly on an issue that is so important to every American.  We deserve to have all the facts about how much this bill raise health care costs before we vote.  The decision to press ahead and jam this bill down the throats of the American people is just one more example of arrogance and irresponsibility from Washington Democrats.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said: “Americans deserve to have a full analysis of this bill, but won’t because of the mad dash forced by the Democrat leaders in the House. We now know that even the Obama administration’s chief actuary predicts more government spending, more price increases for consumers and less care for low-income patients. This debate was supposed about lowering costs for Americans not making things worse.”

Source:  Republican US Senate web    “Leader Board”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Americans Overwhelm Congress on Healthcare

American People Overwhelm Congressional Switchboard

The American people are feed up with the Health Care debacle in the House, so with a bit of encouragement from Rush, the Congressional switchboards have been overwhelmed.

Roll Call reports that the congressional switchboard has been overwhelmed with telephone calls for four consecutive days, since conservative Talk Radio host Rush Limbaugh encouraged to call their congressmen and protest Obamacare.
"Calls to the House numbered close to 100,000 an hour, creating a bottleneck in a phone system only meant to handle 50,000 calls an hour. The chamber has been similarly overloaded for four consecutive days, beginning on Tuesday when radio host Rush Limbaugh told viewers to call the Capitol switchboard phone number," Roll Call said.

Source:  Roll Call

Meanwhile, as the Dems whip their majority caucus into shape for the Health Care bill, the Congressional dealmaking is in full swing.   And the GOP House leader is pledging to expose the deals to the American public.

House Minority Leader John Boehner warned vulnerable Democrats that the healthcare debate won’t end after President Barack Obama signs the bill into law.

Pledging to do “everything [he] can to defeat the bill,” the top-ranking House Republican said on Friday that “the American people are going to hear about every payoff, every kickback and every sweetheart deal that comes at them.”

Source: The Hill Newspaper

The deals being cut are not just among Congressman and women to get their Yes vote the Obama-Pelosi-Ried health care bill, but with major health care special interests to keep them quiet and to put them into “check” and not oppose the bill.    But a GOP Congressman is asking questions of the secret deals:

The ranking member of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee is opening an investigation into the "secret deals" that the White House and Democrats made with various healthcare stakeholders.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent letters today to six organizations asking them what agreements, if any, they made with the Obama administration in exchange for their support of (or lack of opposition to) healthcare reform.  In the letter, Issa cites reports that Democrats cut deals with the hospital industry and the pharmaceutical industry to prevent them from campaigning against reform legislation.
Both conservatives and liberal activists have decried the supposed deal with PhRMA, in which Democrats reportedly agreed to not pass legislation easing the importation generic drugs from Canada or use Medicare's leverage to lower drug prises as long as PhRMA did not oppose healthcare reform.
"These examples are only the tip of the iceberg," Issa wrote. "The negotiations leading up to the finished health care reform bill and the consequences of the deals cut by the White House and Democratic leadership are likely to become the subject of Congressional oversight and scrutiny for years to come."
The organizations receiving letters are the American Medical Association (AMA), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association, the pharmaceutial industry lobby (PhRMA), the AFL-CIO, and the AARP. Among those organizations, only the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has actively campaigned against Democrats' proposals. Others, including the AFL-CIO, are working hard to pass the legislation
Issa asks the organizations to identify any "action (or inaction) expressly or implicitly agreed to by your organization or its agent during any meetihg with the White House or Congressional leadership regarding health care reform."
Source:  The Hill 

And from Representative Darrell Issa’s Twitter page on Friday March 19, 2010

If ObamaCare's as great as they say, I wouldn't have to investigate the kickbacks needed to pass it:     Launched full-on investigation into White House's secret deals to silence health care foes:      Twitter posts by Rep Issa (R-49th, California)    3.19.2010

Finally, here is Representative’s brief on the $940 Billion bill (as per the recent Congressional Budget Office CBO) preliminary estimate:

The House of Representatives is currently scheduled to vote on health care reform legislation Sunday. On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released a preliminary cost estimate of $940 billion.  Democrats are touting this figure as "cost-savings" and an overrall reducation to the federal budget, but here is what they're not telling you is that this health takeover:
1.  Will increase your taxes by $569.2 billion;
2.  Will drastically cut Medicare funding by $500 billion;
3.  Will double the tax on health insurers in 2014;
4.  Will create another entitlement program like Social Security and Medicare; and
5.  Is filled with pork like the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the "Louisiana Purchase" used to buy votes of members of Congress.

Contact Representative Issa via his web page

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Whipping Reluctant Democrats into Shape

Whipping reluctant Democrats into shape:

The pressure is on Speaker Pelosi to whip the Democrats into shape.   Meanwhile, the American voter is getting more upset by the day, as they think there voices are not being heard.   So what is going on?

Typically when the “whipping” starts on a major bill congressional insiders say, “The candy store is open.”   For wavering Democrats, that means requesting changes in the legislation in exchange for their support – make this modification, add this or that and I’ll support it. Bargaining like this goes on routinely behind the scenes.  It’s all part of making the great legislative hot dog
The health care bill includes another strange procedural twist.  Democratic leaders in Congress decided to first bring up the legislation the Senate passed in December for a vote in the House.  If it passes, the bill could go directly to the president for his signature.  Democrats are promising wavering House members they will make changes to the bill in a subsequent piece of legislation that will be considered as part of the budget reconciliation process (which requires a simple majority to pass in the Senate).  But it’s unclear when, or even if, this will happen.  As one veteran member of Congress used to say, “Fixing a bill in the Senate is the political equivalent of promising ‘I’ll respect you in the morning.’” 

Both parties in Congress elect their respective “whips.” In the House, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina holds the position for the Democrats and Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia for the GOP.  The position has been formally part of the congressional leadership since around the end of the nineteenth century. But because health care is the big enchilada, this one lands on Pelosi’s plate. “She’s the real Democratic whip on this one,” a House Republican leadership aide told me.
The fate of the legislation lies in the accuracy and persuasiveness of the Democratic vote counters. Yet the process is largely unknown to the world outside of congressional insiders.   The Weekly Standard, political blog  March 2010

And if the Democrats are whipped into shape, with many casting a vote that may end up sealing their fate in November of 2010 (and unelectable members of Congress, due to going against the will of their constituents)?    

But the rub is that even if ObamaCare passes, Democrats and President Obama will lose. Republicans have already vowed to make November a referendum on this bill and, by all auguries, Democrats are going to lose big time. The loss of one election if the larger cause succeeds wouldn't be a big deal. But this bill has little legitimacy and for years might be tied up in constitutional challenges against its individual mandate provision--not to mention the provisions that turn insurance companies into public utilities without due process. ObamaCare could well become President Obama's Iraq. Worst of all from the standpoint of his personal life story, it will exacerbate the crisis of the entitlement state, requiring someone else to step forward and clean up the fiscal mess he is creating.  Shikha Dalmia, writing in Forbes Magazine
Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation and a biweekly Forbes columnist. 

So as Speaker Pelosi trys to whip her Democrat majority in Congress into line, many members of Congress are listening to their voters back home and realizing that a vote for the monstrous health care bill is political suicide.

The recent   Rasmussen polling shows why the Health Care bill is in big trouble, and why wavering members of Congress have a voter support problem (especially Democrats who vote for the bill):

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters believe passage of the proposed health care legislation will lead to higher health care costs. Just 17% believe it will achieve the stated goal of reducing the cost of care.
Forty-nine percent (49%) also think passage of the plan will reduce the quality of care, while only 23% believe it will improve the quality of care.   3.08.10 Rasmussen Reports

And while the President is not up for reelection in 2010, all 435 members of the House and 1/3 of the US Senate have to face an angry electorate in November 2010.     Will the blue dog Democrats hunt for Obama-Pelosi-Reed?   It doesn’t look like the Democrats have the majority of votes to pass the Health Care bill.

© 2010, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media,   

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why I Took a Stand (Senator Bunning)

Why I took a Stand
By Jim Bunning  US Senator R-Kentucky
I have been serving the citizens of Kentucky for nearly 24 years in Washington. During that time I have been a member of both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. I have taken thousands of votes in relation to spending the taxpayers' money. I will be the first one to admit that I have cast some bad votes during my tenure, and I wish I could have some of them back. For too long, both Republicans and Democrats have treated the taxpayers' money as a slush fund that does not ever end. At some point, the madness has to stop.
Over a month ago, Democrats passed and President Obama signed into law the "Pay-Go" legislation. It calls on Congress to pay for bills by not adding to our debt. It sounds like a common sense tool that would rein in government spending. Unfortunately, Pay-Go is a paper tiger. It has no teeth. I did not vote for the Democrats' Pay-Go legislation because I knew it was just a political dog-and-pony show to get some good press after some political setbacks. Since the Pay-Go rule was enacted, the national debt has gone up $244,992,297,448.11 (as of Wednesday March 3rd, that is).
Why now?
Last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked to pass a 30-day extensions bill for unemployment insurance and other federal programs. Earlier in February, those extensions were included in a broader bipartisan bill that was paid for but did not meet Sen. Reid's approval, and he nixed the deal. When I saw the Democrats in Congress were going to vote on the extensions bill without paying for it and not following their own Pay-Go rules, I said enough is enough.
Many people asked me, "Why now?" My answer is, "Why not now?" Why can't a non-controversial measure in the Senate that would help those in need be paid for? If the Senate cannot find $10 billion to pay for a measure we all support, we will never pay for anything.
America is under a mountain of debt. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a hearing last month that the United States' debt is unsustainable. We are on the verge of a tipping point where America's debt will bring down our economy, and more people will join the unemployment lines. That is why I used my right as a United States Senator and objected.
Only in Washington
After four legislative days of impasse, I reached a supposed deal with Majority Leader Reid to have an up-or-down vote on a pay-for amendment that would fully fund the legislation and not add to the debt. Only minutes before the vote, Democrats used a parliamentary maneuver to set aside my amendment and not vote on the actual substance of it. Only in Washington could this happen. The Democrats did not want to vote on my amendment because they knew they were in the wrong and ignored their own rules. Hypocrisy again rules the day in Washington.
I have 40 grandchildren, and I want them to grow up in a country where they have all of the same opportunities I had as a child. I fear that they will not have those opportunities if Washington continues on its course of spending without paying for it. We are at over $12 trillion in debt. I know many Americans sit around their kitchen table and make the tough decisions. It is time for the politicians in Washington to do the same.
Jim Bunning is a Republican senator from Kentucky.  Editorial in the USA Today, March 3rd, 2010