History in the making, indeed. The 40,000 constituents who signed the Senate Conservatives Fund’s Repeal ObamaCare Pledge in the first 24 hours since the House passed Obamacare suggest that historic efforts are about to be made to kill this bill before it can inflict its intended and unintended damage.
Here’s a roadmap of priorities for Obamacare opponents in and out of Washington, to get us from this dispiriting week to January 2013:
1. Challenge the constitutionality of H.R. 3962. Work to invalidate its requirement that all individuals purchase a good or service—in this case, health care—as a condition of being alive, something the federal government has never forced its citizens to do. Contest the federal government’s ability to unload an unfunded mandate onto states, many of which are experiencing budgetary crises and couldn’t afford a new permanent entitlement even if they wanted one.
2. Encourage states to file lawsuits against the bill. Twelve states have already pledged to do so, including Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. H.R. 3962, unlike many other comprehensive bills passed before by Congress, fortunately contains no severability clause that leaves the remainder of the bill intact if one part is struck down in court. Thus, getting a court to nullify just one part of this bill would overturn the entire thing. Take these court challenges all the way to the Supreme Court. read more »
This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to ask Democratic Representatives to demonstrate their unconditional endorsement of the health care reform bill before Congress by—not voting for it.
In a parliamentary trick known as the “Slaughter Solution”—brought to you by Rule Committee Chair Louise Slaughter, who was last seen on TV at the Blair House summit carping about a constituent’s used dentures—the House would not ever have to actually vote for the unpopular Senate bill in order to pass it. (Weren’t Democrats the ones clamoring for an “up-or-down vote” for the last three months?)
Instead, according to Slaughter, House Democrats could simply vote for a reconciliation package written to remove any unsavory provisions from the Senate bill and bring it more in line with liberal House members’ liking. The package would contain what’s known as a “hereby” rule declaring that the Senate bill would be “deemed” to have been “already passed” by the House. The reconciliation package would be sent to the Senate for approval, and then it and the original Senate bill would go to the President for signature.
The only nagging detail in this plan is that Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution states that every bill “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate” before it may go to the President. In other words, a bill must be passed—not “deemed to have been passed”—by both chambers first.
In case this wasn’t clear, the Founding Fathers reiterated, “[T]he votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively.” (Note: “Yea” in this case does not mean, “Yea, I don’t have to vote for the bill!”) read more »
According to the L.A. Times, federal officials report that there were 34 deaths in the past decade from Toyota vehicles suddenly and unintentionally accelerating.
Then again, federal officials also report that there were 34 deaths from people not having health insurance while you were reading the last sentence.
A sensationalistic crash that killed four occupants of a Lexus last year in San Diego resulted in nationwide media exposure regarding supposed Toyota design flaws. Toyota investigated and found that the car’s floor mat had become stuck to the accelerator, preventing it from operating properly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration backed up Toyota: as outlined in the inspection report, “The right clip was installed into the grommet of the carpeting but not installed into the mat. The left clip was… not clipped to either the carpet or the rubber mat… [T]he bottom edge of the accelerator pedal had melted to the upper right corner of the mat… [W]hile it was a Lexus brand mat, it was not the correct application for the vehicle.”
Nonetheless, the incident led to an accumulation of complaints about Toyota and high-profile recalls for problems ranging from Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) to brake problems to faulty steering. The federal government butted in by holding hearings last month in which they grilled Toyota executives about alleged glitches in their vehicles’ electronic throttles; they also demanded to know when Japanese execs would commit hara-kiri to atone for their sins.
As the Times noted, virtually all of the accident-related deaths reported this year took place before 2010, some as far back as 20 years. In other words, motorists are jumping on the bandwagon, contributing horror stories to a ravenous media, and helping perpetuate an urban legend. Or, as one agency spokeswoman diplomatically noted, “It is normal for NHTSA to receive an increase in consumer complaints after a recall is announced and the public learns of a safety defect.” read more »
Last summer, NBC’s Brian Williams wrote a piece called “The Hurt Locker: Hurting for a Fact-Checker” regarding one of the top two contenders for Best Picture at this weekend’s Oscars. Williams noted, “I found a slew of technical inaccuracies based only on my few trips to Iraq during the height of the conflict. Seeing the movie made me go back over many of the positive reviews I read… [I]t is now clear none of them was written by anyone who had spent any time with U.S. armed forces in Iraq.”
Williams suggested that the filmmakers botched the following minor details: the vehicles, the armor, the armaments, the helmets, the uniforms, the communications technology, the military jargon, the unit structure, the command procedure, and the mission logistics.
On the plus side, Williams noted that the filmmakers accurately portrayed soldiers’ fingernails being dirty and their eyelashes being covered with dust. Score one for cinéma vérité! Williams also praised the film’s lovely desert scenery.
Williams ended, “I’d like to watch ‘The Hurt Locker’ with a combat veteran, but my layman’s eyes found way too much to quarrel with.”
Fortunately for Williams, combat veterans have already seen the film. Unfortunately for director Kathryn Bigelow, their criticism of the film is even more scathing than that of Williams.
Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, recently concluded in Newsweek that “Hollywood’s latest attempt to define the Iraq War and the American troops who have fought in it is just as disappointing as all the others produced so far.” read more »
“This president is a real slow learner.” – Oscar Goodman, Mayor of Las Vegas
Speaking of gambling, President Obama has subpoenaed weary Democrats and disgusted Republicans to a Blair House summit tomorrow for a day-long policy-palooza to be broadcast on C-SPAN for Americans who didn’t get enough of the health care reform debate last year. Obama has decided to wager what little respectability he has left on the hope that the American people will be charmed by his vision of health care reform, will develop amnesia, and will forget everything they hate about the bills passed by Congress last year.
The Associated Press announces that the new proposal released by the President “is important, but not as critical as the political skill Obama can apply to an impasse that seems close to hopeless in a pivotal congressional election year.”
Hmm… Let’s tally up the campaigns Obama has fought and lost using his “political skill” over the past four months: securing the 2016 Olympics for Chicago, electing Creigh Deeds governor of Virginia, reelecting John Corzine governor of New Jersey, getting UN members to agree to a climate change accord in Copenhagen, and electing Martha Coakley Senator in Massachusetts. Oh—and of course his year-long crusade to sell Congress’s health care plan to the public, which resulted in voters increasing their opposition to the plan in direct proportion to the number of syllables Obama emitted in his attempts to explain it.
Obama views the populace as a huddled mass of slow learners to whom he must explicate Congress’s monstrous health care legislation over and over until it penetrates their thick skulls. read more »
Recently the mainstream media was howling with derision over the fact that Sarah Palin had written a few words on the inside of her hand to remind herself of the key themes she wanted to address in her speech at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville last week.
Admittedly, one would have expected subjects such as Energy, Tax Cuts, and Lift American Spirits to be top-of-mind for Palin, who has consistently and admirably embodied these stances throughout her career, including her 2008 vice-presidential run.
What the MSM did not explain was how Obama’s ubiquitous reliance on his TelePrompTer, including at a recent pep talk with sixth-graders in Falls Church, Virginia, somehow reflected a greater skill at extemporizing or a more masterful command of facts on his part.
The Associated Press chided Palin for relying on a memory aid after having mocked Obama’s use of his TelePrompTer. It’s true: Palin did jot down a few notes to help her stay focused during her 40-minute Tea Party Convention keynote address, the second-most important speech of her career. Was Obama’s five-minute chat with 11-year-olds at Graham Road Elementary School so important to his legacy that it required twin, six-foot-tall TelePrompTer monitors to help him get every word right?
Meanwhile, Joe “Gaffe-tastic” Biden has continued to demonstrate his propensity for committing more blunders in any given week than Palin has made in her entire life. Appearing on Larry King last week, Biden stated that the Iraq War “could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” read more »
Discouraging military service, bean counting minority group members instead of evaluating achievement, injecting irrelevant sexual undertones—sound like conservative stances to me!
As Miss Manners once wrote on sexual orientation, the important distinction these days seems to be not gays vs. straights, but people who think other people’s sex lives are open for scrutiny vs. those who don’t.
A rapidly dwindling number of conservatives have been arguing that the military should preserve its ban on gays serving openly in the military.
The U.S.’s highest ranking military official, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, happens to disagree. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, he declared in no uncertain terms that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the nation’s other top defense official, testified alongside Mullen in support of repealing the ban.
Just before President Obama took office, 104 retired admirals and generals had signed a statement urging the next president to overturn the ban.
Apparently all of this wasn’t good enough for Senator John McCain, who had categorically stated in 2006, “The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.” Last week McCain told Mullen and Gates that he still opposes lifting the ban.
I can understand some conservatives’ suspicion regarding overturning the ban on gays in the military, when the last president who tried to do so (Clinton) had nothing but contempt for the military and aggressively eroded its capabilities every year he was in office. read more »
If deficit spending is the way out of an economic downturn, as leftist economists like Paul Krugman keep telling us, then one way to characterize President Obama’s approach to reviving the ailing economy is “killing it with kindness.”
Another is “tough love”—not the kind where you force hard choices and self-discipline, but the kind where you shoot the poor beast to put it out of its misery.
James Clyburn, House Majority Whip, recently crystallized the Democrats’ position on fiscal responsibility when he announced, “We’re not going to save our way out of this recession. We’ve got to spend our way out of this recession, and I think most economists know that.”
Here are some fun facts about Obama’s proposed federal budgets over the next decade:
• The projected deficit for Obama’s 2010 budget is $1.6 trillion, which is 10% larger than the 2009 deficit, which was three times as big as the record 2008 deficit under President Bush.
• The projected 2010 deficit is 10 times as large as the deficit for Bush’s 2007 budget, the latter of which included funding for the troop surge that won the war in Iraq. Nearly matching our accomplishment in Iraq, the White House Travel Office has approved a trip for Obama to go to Cambridge, Massachusetts in November to get a Democratic dogcatcher elected in Harvard Square.
• The projected 2010 deficit will render our national debt 13% bigger on the last day of this year than it is today. Projected 2010-11 deficits will cause the debt to swell 23% bigger than it is now. By 2020, the debt will be twice as big as it is today. read more »
Critics of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s performance in his first term blame him for failing to recognize the threat of the looming subprime lending crisis; his supporters laud the aggressive policies he enacted in response to the crisis.
I fault him for both.
Before the crisis, Bernanke helped Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives cover up their scheme to hide trillions of dollars in junk mortgages and give themselves enormous bonuses. In the process, he failed to address the growing housing bubble that precipitated the financial crisis.
His solution was worse. Having learned the wrong lesson from the Great Depression—that the government prolonged it by not intervening more, rather than intervening too much—Bernanke radically expanded government’s power and “reinvented the Fed,” as Time magazine put it mildly in their recent cover story on Bernanke.
Time glowingly continued: “[H]e conjured up trillions of new dollars and blasted them into the economy; engineered massive public rescues of failing private companies… lent to mutual funds, hedge funds, foreign banks, investment banks, manufacturers, insurers and other borrowers who had never dreamed of receiving Fed cash… revolutionized housing finance with a breathtaking shopping spree for mortgage bonds; blew up the Fed’s balance sheet to three times its previous size; and generally transformed the staid arena of central banking into a stage for desperate improvisation.”
“Conjured up,” “blasted,” “engineered,” “revolutionized,” “breathtaking,” “shopping spree,” “blew up,” “desperate improvisation”—somehow these don’t sound like particularly reassuring terms for investors in the world’s largest financial system. read more »
Yesterday Democrats suffered a mortifying trouncing in Massachusetts’ special Senate election, in which Republican Scott Brown zoomed from 17 points behind Democrat Martha Coakley in the polls less than two weeks ago to winning by a handy 5%.
As AP reported, “Brown’s victory was so sweeping, he even won in the Cape Cod community where Kennedy, the longtime liberal icon, died of brain cancer last August.”
To be fair, Coakley did manage to capture 84% of Cambridge, Amherst, and Provincetown, which tend to serve as bellwethers for—well, themselves.
Coakley’s complaint that her poll numbers started to drop right after the Senate passed its version of the health care bill on Christmas rang a bit hollow, given that she campaigned vociferously to vote for that very health care bill if elected to Congress.
In the wake of the clear message sent to them by the people of Massachusetts, Democrats are slowly backing away from their suicidal insistence on passing a bill only 33% of Americans favor and that even they don’t like, considering more bipartisan/free-market solutions, and resolving to address healthcare reform in a more piecemeal fashion.
Gotcha! Actually, Democrats are considering a number of insane, Mission Impossible-style workaround strategies to thwart the will of the people and pass their health care bill without a filibuster-proof Senate. These include:
• Forcing the House to pass the Senate bill, word-for-word, with nary a change in punctuation. This option would throw out all of the heatedly negotiated agreements between the two chambers conducted in the past few weeks, including the major union employee exemption to the excise tax on “Cadillac plans.” It would also ignore many of the other differences between the bills for which Democrats in the House say they cannot accept the House version as is, such as language on abortion funding. House Democrat Bart Stupak, author of the Stupak Amendment, reported on Monday that “House members will not vote for the Senate bill. There’s no interest in that.” He added that when the notion was proposed at a caucus meeting among Democrats, “It went over like a lead balloon.” read more »