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Monday, April 5, 2010

Individual Mandate – Unconstitutional?

As of this writing, 14 states have joined in the lawsuit headed by Attorney General Bill McCollum of FL suing the federal government’s recent health care law stating that it violate the Commerce Clause, forces states to cover programs they can't afford, and forces every American to purchase health care insurance. Some pundits say that the Supreme Court will not overturn the law but they have overturned similar laws and all hope is not lost.

In 1936, the Conservative Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes overturned several of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. To get back at the court, President Roosevelt sought to do some “court packing” by proposing the Judicial Reorganization Bill which would allow the president “to name a new federal judge for each judge who didn't retire by 70 1/2” and of those, six would be added to the Supreme Court. The president received quite a pushback from both parties, but refused to compromise. In the end, he not only lost the bill but the Democrats lost control of Congress in the next election.

Opponents of the law see Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Thomas and Scalia as the conservatives who could vote with the states in overturning the new law and Justice Kennedy as the deciding factor. The 1995 case United States vs. Lopez gave us an insight into Kennedy’s view of the Commerce Clause. Justice Kennedy sighted that Congress is limited in their powers under the Commerce Clause. If Congress could “regulate local acts of gun violence simply because it had a local impact”, then they could nationalize the police force on the theory that all crime has an economic impact. Supporters of the law state that insurance coverage has an economic activity. This may be true but right now insurance is regulated by the state. In the Lopez case, the Rehnquist Court stated that Congress had overstepped its boundaries in regards to the 10th Amendment.

Congress and the president want to make not purchasing health care insurance a crime punishable by a fine or jail time. If the Supreme Court doesn't stop the health care bill, then what is to stop Congress from passing bills mandating that we buy a General Motors car every year? Congress could take their win as a ruling that they can force us to purchase anything even if we don't want it. In Gonzales v. Raich (2005), Justice Clarence Thomas stated that “If Congress can regulate this [marijuana] under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything – and the federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

We must support any Governor, Lt. Governor, or Attorney General who joins the fight against this unconstitutional law. It is vital that we support congressional candidates who will work to repeal and replace ObamaCare with a free market system that includes tort reform. We can win this fight but we have to continue to make repeal and replace a theme of this year’s mid-term elections.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Liberal Democrats misuse of Parliamentary Procedures

The year was 1994 and President Clinton was trying to get his health care reform bill passed through Congress. In the beginning, the public supported his and Hillary’s health care reform. It sounded good on paper. At the time, the Senate like the House was controlled by Democrats. The Democrats held a 14 seat majority in the Senate (57 Democrats; 43 Republicans). In the House, the Democrats held 258 seats to the Republican’s 176, with one Independent.

Once the Clinton administration announced that 40 percent of insured Americans would pay more in health care premiums, public support began to fade. Members of Clinton’s own party ran from “HillaryCare.” This left the president and democrats in the Senate no choice but to use reconciliation if they wanted the president’s legislation passed.

The Senate would be stopped from voting on the bill by the “conscience of the Senate”, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). Senator Byrd said that the health care plan “was out of bounds for a process that is theoretically about budgets.” Hmm, perhaps Obama and Reid should listen to him. If the only way Democrats can pass their nationalized health care bill is to use a measure reserved for budgetary items only, then they should rethink the bill altogether. Senator Byrd also stated that “using reconciliation to expedite health-care reform would be an outrage that must be resisted.” Apparently no one is listening to him.

The democrats are correct that reconciliation has been used and used by both parties. Of course, they are just rambling off their talking points about when Republicans have used it, not when they have used it. For those that don't know, the primary and only use for reconciliation is for the “consideration of a contentious budget bill;” the operative word there being budget. Reconciliation is not meant to be used to pass any type of “comprehensive, rational overhaul” especially one that will affect 1/6 if the economy.

When former President Clinton met with Senate Democrats in 2009, he told them that the reason they lost the Senate in November 1994 was because they didn’t pass his legislation. WRONG. The reason the democrats lost their majority was because Americans weren't too keen on the nationalization of health care and there was growing concern among Independents and “soft partisans” about the amount of government spending and the rising national debt (sound familiar).

In comparing Obama’s desire to take over health care to that of Clinton, The Economist of London observed “Not since Franklin Roosevelt’s War Production Board has it been suggested that so large a part of the American economy should suddenly be brought under government control.”

Democrats tried and failed in making their case for nationalized health care. They had 60 votes in the Senate and the 218 needed in the House. As time went on, Americans increased their opposition to the Senate and House bills and now to the Obama bill because all three cost too much and force individuals to purchase coverage.

The administration and Congress have decided to ignore the will of the people. If the Democrats want to try again and use reconciliation to pass a bill that is highly opposed by the American people, let’em. It’s the equivalent of committing political suicidal. According to Speaker Pelosi, she is willing to give them the rope to hang themselves.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hey big spender! Your outspending FDR

When the Democrats regained control of Congress in January 2007, they promised fiscal responsibility. They passed PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) which requires Congress to find a way to pay for programs without raising taxes.

However, in their first year, they increased spending by $454 billion, raised taxes by $98 billion, and added an additional $356 billion to deficit spending. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) once told his senate colleagues “If you want to have a new program, figure out a way to pay for it without raising taxes.” Attention Senator Reid, if you want health care reform, a stimulus package, a climate bill, and a “jobs” bill, then find a way to pay for it without taxing us into oblivion.

Liberals now, as in 2007, have used their large majorities to increase discretionary spending faster than syrup dripping on a pile of pancakes. In 2007, they blackmailed President Bush into agreeing to an additional $17 billion in unrelated domestic spending. They told the president that if he wanted his requested troop funding then he would have to agree to their increase.

Within his first 100 days in office, President Obama has spent the second half of the TARP bill ($350 billion), signed into law a failed economic stimulus bill ($872 billion) and the Omnibus bill ($410 billion), and submitted his $3.6 trillion 2010 budget. In his “Era of Personal Responsibility”, he proposed increasing discretionary spending by 12 percent. While the president “supports” the PAYGO law passed by the House, he managed to spend $1.5 trillion over tax receipts.

President Obama likes to blame his predecessor for our current budget woes, but let’s look at the numbers (courtesy of The Heritage Foundation).

President Bush expanded the federal budget by $700 billion; Obama expanded the same federal budget by $1 trillion. President Bush’s stimulus bill in 2008 was only $150 billion; Obama’s stimulus bill in 2009 was $872 billion.

President Bush was the first president to spend 3 percent of GDP on antipoverty programs; President Obama has increased this so far by 20 percent.

President Bush presided over a $2.5 trillion increase in the public debt by the end of 2008 (after 8 years); President Obama is set to add $4.9 trillion in only 6 years.

With all his spending, President Obama is set to be the biggest spender-in-chief since the 1930's. While President Roosevelt had to respond to the attack on Pearl Harbor, federal spending as it pertains to gross domestic product (GDP) averaged only 9.85 percent. It is estimated that with Obama’s spending, the GDP will average around 24 percent. While both Obama and Roosevelt had wars to contend with as well as a down economy, so did President Reagan. However, even with the Cold War, Reagan’s highest deficit as a percentage of GDP came in 1983 when it hit 6 percent.

Democrats claim that the PAGYO legislation turned the country’s deficits into surpluses in the 1990's. But what they fail to mention is that those surpluses came about during the last 6 years that President Clinton was in office when Congress was controlled by Republicans. I will admit that the Republicans went on a spending spree during the first six years of the Bush administration, a fact that doesn't sit well with many Conservatives.

During his tenure in office, President Calvin Coolidge managed to cut spending by 50 percent! If President Obama and the Democrats are serious about cutting the deficit and getting spending under control, then they would cut spending, cut taxes, cancel their efforts to pass health care and return the repaid TARP money to the Treasury.

Otherwise, its time for the American people to tell them “You’re Fired!”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama’s first year in office – a missed opportunity

Instead of listening to the American people whose focus in 2009 was the economy and jobs, this president decided to spend his first year on health care. Because as he said, seven presidents have tried and failed in getting health care legislation passed and he was bound to make history and be the last. Forget about the millions who lost jobs in 2009, he focused on what he wanted and in return...

Missed an opportunity;

The elections of Republican governors to New Jersey and Virginia aren't anything new. Virginia has for the most part been a red state and every once in awhile New Jersey elects a Republican to lead them. But again, this president didn't listen to the voters. Instead, the White House reported that he didn't even watch the returns and brushed the results off stating that they had nothing to do with him. President Clinton brushed of the New Jersey and Virginia Republican gubernatorial wins in 1993 and he lost his majority in November 1994. It appears President Obama…

Missed an opportunity;

The election of Senator-elect Scott Brown in Massachusetts should have been a wake up call to President Obama. The state was electing someone to fill a seat held by a democrat for more than 50 years. In the bay state, Democrats out number Republicans 3 to 1 and Independents out number Democrats 2 to 1 so the White House should listen to the voters. Like in 1994, Independents tried to tell the Democratic Party that they weren't happy with their tax and spend policy and their desire to take over the health care system. This special election was an opportunity Bill Clinton didn't have in 1994. It appears President Obama….

Missed an opportunity;

Many pundits thought that with his party losing in MA the president would have no choice but to move to the center. But his State of the Union speech showed us that he won't give up trying to change the tone of Washington and continue to use liberalism as a way to separate America. During his address, he scolded Democrats, Republicans, Washington, the Supreme Court and the American people. Since his election, he has talked to the American people as if they were school children. The "we know what is best for you" attitude isn't cutting it with voters. We might as well have all been sent to after school detention. It appears President Obama...

Missed an opportunity;

When Obama campaigned for president, he promised hope and change. After one year, the “change-agent-in-chief” is showing us he has nothing to offer but more of the same. Back doors deals with democratic senators in order to get their vote and deals with union leaders in order to get their support, just to get his agenda passed. With a super majority, he could have taken the high road and worked with the opposition party. Instead he decided to tell them to get out of the way. He told them during the summer that he didn't' want the people who created this mess to do a lot of talking, just get out of the way. It appears President Obama…

Missed an opportunity.

A year ago the nation handed him a super majority and skyrocketing approval ratings. After one year, his approval ratings have plummeted and his super majority decided to not become “yes men” to his agenda. On top of that, he let far left groups such as Apollo Alliance write major legislation like the stimulus bill. When Bill Clinton lost his majority in 1994, he rolled toward the center. He knew there would be “painful compromises” with Speaker Gingrich and his party. But some of Bill Clinton’s most successful legislation (welfare reform in 1996 and balanced budget legislation in 1997) came about when he worked with the Republican Party.

According to Rep. Marion Berry, democrat from Arkansas, the president told him that the Democrats in Congress have one advantage they didn't have in 1994, the president himself. When the Democrats lose control of the House and the Senate is split 50/50, will the president miss another opportunity?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why the Independent voter will decide the 2010 elections

Last Tuesday, the Independent voters of Massachusetts unleashed their frustration with the Obama administration by electing a Republican to a seat held by the Democrats for almost 50 years. Republicans should not think that the Massachusetts win means voters have seen the light and are returning to the GOP. Remember, in the bay state Democrats out number Republicans 3 to 1 and Independents outnumber the Democrats 2 to 1.

Senator-elect Scott Brown’s win is a backlash against the Democratic Party on the national level no matter how the White House tries to spin it. Independent voters have always been conservative when it comes to fiscal issues and they aren't too keen for big government. In 1994, Independents and soft partisans were tired of the tax and spend liberals in DC and were not so sure about “HillaryCare” (sound familiar?) so they voted in the GOP.

Mr. Brown’s win should make the remaining Democratic senators who are up for re-election this year quiver. They may have the support of their base but the Independent voter is watching and will be out in force. At this point, the GOP should be able to hold on to most of their open seats. The states of Missouri, Ohio and New Hampshire could be in play but right now the GOP candidates have a strong lead in each race.

Senators Boxer (CA), Reid (NV), Lincoln (AR), Bayh (IN), Landrieu (LA), and Specter (PA) are all in trouble. Senator Boxer only has a 46 percent favorable rating and Senator Specter will face challenges in his own primary. Senator Bayh comes from a conservative state but with his record he could win again. Senator Lincoln has voted against the will of the people one too many times and Senator Landrieu was bought off, again defying the will of the people of her state.

Right now Senators Murray (WA), Wyden (OR) and Feingold (WI) don't have much competition but if Massachusetts can go red, then so can they. The seats of New York, Delaware, Illinois and Colorado currently have senators who were appointed so this will be the first time they will face the people. It’s possible that we will see GOP pick ups in at least Delaware, Illinois, and Colorado.

It's easily conceivable that the GOP will regain control of the House and could pick up enough seats in the Senate for a 50/50 split. With the wrath of the independent voter on hand, Democrats might actually have to work for re-election.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Get ready for a Constitutional throw down

As Congress gets ready to work on a behind closed doors compromise health care bill, one that will merge the House and Senate bills, lawyers and attorney generals across the country are gearing up for a constitutional throw down. Two issues that are being looked at are the individual mandate and the sweetheart deals.

The first issue the Supreme Court will have to deal with is the mandate that an individual purchase coverage. The federal government does not have authority to force a citizen to purchase a good or service. When President Clinton tried to pass health care legislation in 1994, which included a mandate for every citizen to purchase insurance, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) weighed in on the issue stating “The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States…”

The Supreme Court has already weighed in on the issue in the cases of United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (1995). In both cases, the high court “it was outside the reach of Congress’s Commerce power.” The Supreme Court rejected Congress’ argument that they had the power to regulate any and all activities by an individual. The health care bill with its mandate goes against this ruling. The Commerce clause does give Congress the authority to spend money but it does not give them the authority to tell an individual how they can spend their money.

A reporter with recently asked two Democratic senators what “specific part of the Constitution authorizes Congress to mandate that individuals must purchase health insurance.” Here are the answers and they are mind-boggling. Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) stated the U.S. Constitution gives authority to the government “to provide for the health, welfare and the defense of the country." But as pointed out, the word “health” is not mentioned in the Constitution, not even once. Burris’ Communications Director James O’Connor tried to help his boss out by saying the senator was referring to the Preamble of the Constitution, which covers the “general welfare.” Again, the word health is never mentioned.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) who couldn’t pinpoint the specific location of the Constitution that authorizes Congress to mandate such a purchase compared mandating a citizen to purchase health care to registering for selective service. The senator said that making men sign up for the draft was “necessary for the functioning of the government over the past several years.” Forcing people to buy insurance is not necessary for the government to function.

The second issue that the Supreme Court will have to deal with is the constitutionality of “sweetheart” deals that were granted to certain states just to secure their votes. The most famous one being the Nebraska deal made with Senate Ben Nelson that will exempt Nebraska from having to cover the increased cost from the expansion of Medicaid. That cost will be covered by the remaining 49 states some of which are hurting financially and can’t afford to take on anymore expenses. The 14th amendment of the Constitution provides equal protection under the law. Giving some states a sweetheart deal to obtain their vote, defies that amendment. Governors and Attorney Generals in at least 13 states are arguing that the treatment some states are getting violates the 14th amendment.

Our current leaders, it appears, have forgotten what the Constitution says they can and cannot do. Congress has the authority to regulate economic activity that an individual chooses to engage in but they do not have the authority to mandate that an individual engage in the activity in the first place.

If Congress attempts to use the Commerce clause as its “legal” way to make us buy insurance, then what’s next? Do they make us buy a Toyota Hybrid each year, or require us to buy energy-efficient appliances?

In the case of Marbury vs. Madison (1803), Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, “The powers of the legislature are defined and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the Constitution is written." When Speaker Pelosi was asked if forcing Americans to purchase insurance was constitutional, her response was, “Are you serious?” Well, yes, Madame Speaker, we are serious.