Category Archives: USA

ObamaCare and the Constitution – WSJ.com

The constitutional challenges to ObamaCare have come quickly, and the media are portraying them mostly as hopeless gestures—the political equivalent of Civil War re-enactors. Discussion over: You lost, deal with it.

The press corps never dismissed the legal challenges to the war on terror so easily, but then liberals have long treated property rights and any limits on federal power to regulate commerce as 18th-century anachronisms. In fact, the legal challenges to ObamaCare are serious and carry enormous implications for the future of American liberty.

The most important legal challenge turns on the “individual mandate”—the new requirement that almost every U.S. citizen must buy government-approved health insurance. Failure to comply will be punished by an annual tax penalty that by 2016 will rise to $750 or 2% of income, whichever is higher. President Obama opposed this kind of coercion as a candidate but has become a convert. He even argued in a September interview that “I absolutely reject that notion” that this tax is a tax, because it is supposedly for your own good.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and 13 other state AGs—including Louisiana Democrat Buddy Caldwell—claim this is an unprecedented exercise of state power. Never before has Congress required people to buy a private product to qualify as a law-abiding citizen.

As the Congressional Budget Office noted in 1994, “Federal mandates typically apply to people as parties to economic transactions, rather than as members of society.” The only law in the same league is conscription, though in that case the Constitution gives Congress the explicit power to raise a standing army.

Democrats claim the mandate is justified under the Commerce Clause, because health care and health insurance are a form of interstate commerce. They also claim the mandate is constitutional because it is structured as a tax, which is legal under the 16th Amendment. And it is true that the Supreme Court has ruled as recently as 2005, in the homegrown marijuana case Gonzales v. Raich, that Congress can regulate essentially economic activities that “taken in the aggregate, substantially affect interstate commerce.”

But even in Raich the High Court did not say that the Commerce Clause can justify any federal regulation, and in other modern cases the Court has rebuked Congress for overreaching. In U.S. v. Lopez(1995), the High Court ruled that carrying a gun near a school zone was not economically significant enough to qualify as interstate commerce, while in Morrison (2000) it overturned a law about violence against women on the same grounds.

All human activity arguably has some economic footprint. So if Congress can force Americans to buy a product, the question is what remains of the government of limited and enumerated powers, as provided in Article I. The only remaining restraint on federal power would be the Bill of Rights, though the Founders considered those 10 amendments to be an affirmation of the rights inherent in the rest of the Constitution, not the only restraint on government. If the insurance mandate stands, then why can’t Congress insist that Americans buy GM cars, or that obese Americans eat their vegetables or pay a fat tax penalty?

The mandate did not pose the same constitutional problems when Mitt Romney succeeded in passing one in Massachusetts, because state governments have police powers and often wider plenary authority under their constitutions than does the federal government. Florida’s constitution also has a privacy clause that underscores the strong state interest in opposing Congress’s health-care intrusion.

As for the assertion that the mandate is really a tax, this is an attempt at legal finesse. The mandate is the legal requirement to buy a certain product, while the tax is the means of enforcement. This is not a true income or even excise tax. Congress cannot, merely by invoking a tax, blow up the Framers’ attempt to restrain government under Article I.


READ THE REST HERE:  ObamaCare and the Constitution – WSJ.com.

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Energy & Commerce Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Impact of Health Care Reform Law on Large Employers

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak today announced that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on April 21, 2010, regarding claims by Caterpillar, Verizon, and Deere that provisions in the new health care reform law could adversely affect their company’s ability to provide health insurance to their employees.  These assertions appear to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs.

Chairman Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Stupak sent a letter to the Chief Executive Officers of Caterpillar, Verizon, Deere and others requesting their testimony at the hearing as well as information and documentation from each company on the law’s projected impact.

Documents

via Energy & Commerce Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Impact of Health Care Reform Law on Large Employers.

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Boehner: Congress Should Heed Employers’ Warnings Rather Than Interrogating Them About Effects of Job-Killing Health Care Law

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on upcoming hearings called by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee, to intimidate employers who are warning that the job-killing new health care law will increase their costs and hamper job creation:

“Throughout the past year, American employers have warned that the health care policies being promoted by President Obama and his Democratic allies in Washington will hurt our economy and make it more difficult to create jobs.  Yet now that those policies have become law over the objections of the American people, Congressional Democrats such as Chairman Waxman profess shock and surprise at hearing American employers announce that they will have no choice but to make painful changes to comply with it.  The new health care law is a job-killer, and we are already seeing the negative impact it is having on our economy.

“Just as important, the law’s new cost increases and mandates are forcing employers to consider dropping health coverage for their employees and retirees altogether, which would force even more Americans into the unsustainable Medicare and Medicaid systems.  Instead of interrogating America’s private sector job creators, Congress should be listening to them, heeding their warnings about the effects of this deeply flawed new law, and replacing it with reforms that will help them get back to creating jobs.”

In a memo sent to House Republicans last Thursday, Leader Boehner urged Republicans to focus on the economy as they discuss the new health care law with their constituents during the congressional district work period.  In the memo, entitled “Where are the Jobs?  Not in President Obama’s Health Care Law,” Boehner echoed more than 100 economists who have warned that President Obama’s massive new law will hurt the economy and make job creation more difficult at a time of nearly double-digit unemployment.

NOTE: In the days after President Obama signed the new health care law, America’s employers began warning shareholders and employees about higher health care costs that would result.  AT&T announced it would bear $1 billion in higher costs, Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Similar announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks.

via Boehner: Congress Should Heed Employers’ Warnings Rather Than Interrogating Them About Effects of Job-Killing Health Care Law | Republican Leader John Boehner.

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The Tax Foundation – Basic Facts on Redistribution and the Impact of Obama’s Policies

Introduction

The debate over taxing high-income families to fund the expansion of health care coverage in America has renewed the broader question of government’s role in redistributing income through tax and spending policies. What is missing from this debate is some hard numbers on how much current tax and spending policies redistribute income from some Americans to others and how much the policies advocated by the Obama Administration will change the overall amount of redistribution.

The Tax Foundation’s “Fiscal Incidence” project has filled this void by first calculating how much current tax and spending policies are redistributing, then estimating how much President Obama’s policies—from taxes to health care to climate change—will alter that redistribution. Simply put, the Fiscal Incidence Model[1] compares the total amount of federal taxes families pay (such as income taxes, excise taxes, payroll taxes, etc.) to the total amount of government spending they receive (such as entitlement benefits, defense spending, public works, etc.).

How the Money Comes and Goes

We divide American families into ten equal groups by income level, and at the top end of the spectrum, we are able to break that 10 percent down into smaller groups. In general, as anyone would expect, families who earn more pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits while families who earn less receive more in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes. These individual results are then summed up into a national picture of how much tax and spending policies redistribute income from some American families to others.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE:  The Tax Foundation – Basic Facts on Redistribution and the Impact of Obama’s Policies.

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Bill introduced to repeal the 22nd Amendment, Remove term limits for President

There is legislation proposed in the house to repeal the 22nd Amendment.  This would remove the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.  This was proposed in January 2009, and was referred to committee in February 2009.  To date no action has been taken on this bill, but the fact that it is out there sitting in committee is FRIGHTENING.

For more on this see:

Obama to Challenge 22nd Amendment; Become King

HOPE and CHANGE: Move to Repeal Presidential Term Limits Started

See below.  Click on links for more information

H.J.RES.5
Title: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.
Sponsor: Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.


All Information (except text) Text of Legislation CRS Summary Major Congressional Actions

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Titles Cosponsors (None) Committees
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Is America’s AAA Rating in Trouble?

America’s current predicament is that it borrows money from countries or individuals to finance many of its expensive obligations, including financing the $862 billion stimulus bill as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what would happen if America had to pay higher interest rates on all future borrowing? This is the question that some people in the federal government have to ponder, as influential rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’shave both recently voiced their view that America’s AAA rating is not guaranteed or in fact even assured. The massive and growing debt obligation makes some professionals question whether this country’s rating may soon be lowered.

Read the rest here: Is America’s AAA Rating in Trouble? | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News..

FOR MORE ON THIS TOPIC SEE:

Obama Pays More than Buffet as US Risks AAA Rating

Growing Debt Could Cost US it’s AAA Rating

Moody’s Puts US, UK on Chopping Block

US Likely to lose its AAA Rating: Prechter

US Ratings fears surface on UK negative outlook

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QUOTE OF THE DAY!

“If you believe this isn’t going to cost the government anything, you are likely to see leprechauns riding on unicorns with pots of gold circling the capitol”

Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA)

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