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Mar 17, 2010

Unconstitutional Health Law

An Unconstitutional Solution
03/17/10 - PowerLine Blog by John Hinderaker

Democrats are attempting to pass ObamaCare healthcare "reform" with unconstitutional procedures. John Hinderaker explains and quotes clearly about the conflicts.

Michael McConnell is a law professor at Stanford and a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals:

[edited]:  Senate rules protect a 41 vote minority by allowing it to block most types of legislation (a fillibuster). "Reconciliation bills" only make adjustments to spending or revenues, to reconcile current law to a new budget resolution, and they require only a majority vote.

Say the President signs the ObamaCare Senate bill into law. "Reconciliation" would permit Senate Democrats to change budget issues in that law with 51 votes. They could correct most offensive features, but maybe not the abortion provisions.

The Senate parliamentarian says reconciliation may only amend existing law. House Democrats must first pass the identical bill that passed the Senate, including the special deals, abortion coverage, and high taxes on expensive health-insurance plans.

The clever, but unconstitutional, Slaughter solution ignores basic fact. To become law, and eligible for amendment via reconciliation, the Senate bill must actually be signed into law.

The Constitution speaks directly to how a bill becomes a law. According to Article I, Section 7, a bill shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, and be presented to the President of the United States for signature or veto. Unless a bill actually has passed both Houses, it cannot be presented to the President and cannot become a law.

Here is my summary. The Senate has passed ObamaCare. The House dislikes ObamaCare, but likes ObamaCare + Amend. What can the House do?

  • Pass ObamaCare + Amend directly. But, it will not pass the Senate, because Republicans now have 41 votes (via Scott Brown) to block passage.
  • Pass ObamaCare to become law. Also pass Amend and expect the Senate to approve. The Senate might pass Amend with 51 votes, or it might easily accept ObamaCare as-is, leaving the House Democrats hanging.
  • The Slaughter trick. Pass Amend + Rule. The Rule says: When the Senate passes Amend, then the House automatically approves of ObamaCare.

Opponents object:

  • The Senate can't pass a reconciliation amendment to an ObamaCare law that doesn't yet exist.
  • Congress can vote on laws. It can't vote on laws that automatically vote on other laws.

I want the actions of Congress to be deliberate, open, and understandable. Congress is not a computer program that writes rules to create other rules. That complexity would end any accountability.

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The Health Care Debate: What is “Deeming”?
03/17/10 - Washington Watch by Jim Harper

A clear 900 word description of the procedures affecting passage of the massive healthcare overhaul called ObamaCare.

Cloture, The 60 vote rule, House passage of the Senate version, Reconcilliation, Senate promises to amend, Hiding a Yes vote, a Rule, a Self-Executing Rule, and Deeming it Passed.

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Questions for Thoughtful ObamaCare Supporters - Part 3
03/16/10 - Cato@Liberty by Michael F. Cannon

What do the following facts mean to you? [edited]

  • Pharmaceutical-industry lobbyists are meeting with House Democrats behind closed doors to write this legislation. They are preparing to spend millions of dollars on advertisements to support the legislation.
  • A former federal judge: Under Article I, Section 7, passage of one bill cannot be deemed to be enactment of another.
  • Speaker Pelosi says of her proposed “deeming” strategy: I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill. Pelosi once opposed this same strategy in a court of law.
  • The Washington Post editorializes: The Democrats’ endgame seems “dodgy” and “threatens to turn into something unseemly and contrary to Democrats’ promises of transparency and deliberation”.

Questions for ObamaCare Supporters
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

Mar 11, 2010

Only 40% of Healthcare Costs

Mike:  I have a $4 coupon here for a hamburger.
Server:  (loudly to kitchen) Burger, well done, no salt, no cheese, no fries, half a bun. (to Mike) We'll have it for you in an hour.

Mike:  Wait, I don't want it like that!
Server:  It's free. Stop complaining.

Mike:  (looks at next table) Their meals look good.
Server:  Politicians and union guys. Where do you work?

Mike:  Acme Manufacturing, why?
Server:  We'll bill them for the other $6. Hah, they'll be happy.

Mike:  Say, what sort of restaurant is this?
Server:  Obama's Health Restaurant.

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Obamacare Cost Estimate Watch
03/11/10 - Cato@Liberty

[edited] The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) released today another cost estimate for ObamaCare. It still omits the cost of new private-sector mandates, nine months after the first version was released. President Obama has implicitly acknowledged this omission.

From history, the CBO estimated that mandates in President Clinton's health plan accounted for 60% of the costs. The Obama plan is remarkably similar, which is probably why Democrats have suppressed such estimates this time around.

So, when the CBO says the plan will cost $1 trillion ($1 million million), the true cost is likely $1 trillion collected in tax and spent by the government, PLUS $1.5 trillion in health care spending required of businesses and individuals, totalling $2.5 trillion.

The government is likely reporting just 40% of the true cost.

Obamacare Would Increase Deficits by $59 Billion
(Via Legal Insurrection)
03/20/10 - Fox News

[edited] After correcting for the Doctor Fix gimmick the CBO estimates imply that the Obama plan increases Federal deficits by $59 billion over the next 10 years.

Democrats hid another $1.5 trillion by preventing the CBO from scoring hidden taxes. "Individual mandates” force workers to pay money to insurers, which is a hidden tax. History says those taxes would cost roughly $1.5 trillion, omitted from the CBO analysis.

The actual cost of the bill is nearly $3 trillion. Worse, existing and new constituencies will demand even more government spending, and proposed cuts in spending will be stopped by highly organized and vocal opposition.

Mar 2, 2010

Terrorism is Thug Advertising

Wars, Crimes, and Underpants Bombers
03/02/10 - Cato at Liberty by Julian Sanchez

The common question: Why do Islamic extremists spend their time and resources attacking the US and our people? What is in it for them?

One explanation is hate. They don't mind sacrificing their men to suicide bombings, or enduring our counter-terrorist operations that kill their leaders, as long as it shakes up The West and the US. But, there is much hate in the world, and most organizations and countries are not attacking in that way. So, hate is a plausible explanation, but doesn't leave me satisfied.

The following insight seems right to me. They attack us as a form of thug advertising, to build their organizations.

Sanchez [edited]: The claim that "we are at war" seems to be a statement that "we are very, very serious about national security". This self-esteem boosting ritual has a cost.

Jihadis primarily want to impose their rigid vision in the Muslim world, and to depose rulers perceived as corrupt or too secular. (See "The Far Enemy" by Fawaz Gerges.)   Their decision to strike “the Far Enemy” in the United States is not motivated by blind bloodlust or a desire to kill Americans as an end in itself. Their decision is generally unpopular, even among radical Islamists.

Al Qaeda had been perceived within jihadi circles as a marginal organization. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri hoped that a titanic conflict between Islam and the West would revive the jihadi movement and enhance the prestige of Al Qaeda. This has largely backfired

Terrorism is primarily a symbolic act. Terror groups execute sensational attacks as PR stunts. They don’t love blowing up airplanes; they do it to establish their own credibility versus more locally-focused Islamist groups. They compete with both violent and peaceful groups for recruits.

Our response to these attacks will often have a military component. But, we should not treat Al Qaeda as if it were a belligerent foreign state. A big show supports their advertising and outreach efforts. We should treat Abdulmutallab and his cohorts as just one more band of thugs, when this is compatible with our intelligence gathering and security goals.