Tag Archives: Cost

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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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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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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Barton, Burgess Ask Administration to Detail Costs of NEPA Rule to Jobs, Economy

Barton, Burgess Ask Administration to Detail Costs of NEPA Rule to Jobs, Economy

March 8, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Michael Burgess, R-Texas, today wrote to Nancy Sutley, the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, asking her to square President Obama’s statement that “jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010” with the expansion of a wide range of global warming and other environmental regulations that will cumulatively impose billions of dollars in costs on U.S. business and consumers.

Of chief concern to the lawmakers are the potential economic and job impacts of the “Draft NEPA Guidance on Consideration of the Effects of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” which appears to erect more regulatory barriers to new infrastructure.

“The NEPA process is already extraordinarily time consuming and expensive, and the NEPA related costs for new infrastructure and other large proposed projects can range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars and take years to complete,” said Barton and Burgess, ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, respectively. “Given the evolving, complex, controversial, uncertain, and global nature of climate science, we have significant concerns that layering more analyses and requirements contemplated in the draft guidance will further delay the NEPA process, increase overall permitting and project costs, lead to protracted litigation, and adversely impact new energy and other infrastructure development in the United States.”

The lawmakers asked Sutley to respond to the following questions:

1.    Please identify each of the federal departments and agencies that would be subject to the draft guidance if it is finalized by the administration.

2.    In developing the draft guidance, has CEQ analyzed the amount of time that implementation of the guidelines may add to the NEPA process, the increased government resources that would be required, the additional staff required, and/or the additional costs to the taxpayer or the regulated community? If yes, please provide copies of any documents reflecting such analyses.

3.    In developing the draft guidance, has CEQ analyzed the potential litigation that may result from implementing the guidance? If yes, please provide copies of any documents reflecting such analyses.

4.    Has CEQ analyzed the impacts of the draft guidance for the U.S. energy sector? If yes, please provide copies of any documents reflecting such analyses.

5.    Does CEQ anticipate issuing specific NEPA guidance applicable to “land and resource management actions”?

6.    In developing the draft guidance, did CEQ consult with any nongovernmental entities?

7.    Since January 2009, has CEQ prepared its own analyses of the potential economic or job impacts that may result from implementation of any of the administration’s proposed global warming environmental regulations, policies, or initiatives? If yes, please provide copies of all such analyses.

8.    Since January 2009, has CEQ received any analyses from other offices within the Executive Office of the President, federal agencies, and/or nongovernmental entities, of economic or job impacts that may result from implementation of any administration’s proposed global warming environmental policies, regulations or initiatives? If yes, please provide copies of all such analyses in CEQ’s possession.

9.    Since January 2009, has CEQ taken any actions to expedite the NEPA process in order to promote economic growth and new job creation? If yes, please describe and provide copies of documents relating to such actions.

10.    Since January 2009, has the administration taken any actions to ensure that economic and job impacts are considered and evaluated before the administration promulgates new environmental regulations?

The letter can be found here.

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