A Deeper Look At The ObamaCare Ruling + More

Posted on Fri 02/04/2011 by

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The Foundation

“[A] wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” –Thomas Jefferson

Government & Politics

A Major Victory Against ObamaCare

ObamaCare ruled unconstitutional

If you watch only the network evening news, you might not have heard that on Monday, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled the obvious: ObamaCare violates the Constitution. Twenty-six states had filed suit over the law, specifically arguing that the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance violates the Constitution by granting Congress too much power under the Commerce Clause. Vinson, a Reagan appointee, agreed and struck down the entire law.

“Never before has Congress required everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States,” wrote Judge Vinson. “It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. … Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended.”

There is little doubt the Founders purposefully denied the Legislative Branch such broad powers, but leftists have long asserted that Congress can do whatever a majority votes to do. When asked about the constitutionality of ObamaCare, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) snorted, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” She is now the minority leader.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) was similarly smug when congressional power was questioned, explaining, “I think that there are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life.” He continued, “The federal government, uh, yes, can do most anything in this country.”

Judge Vinson’s ruling was a strong rebuke to such thinking. Notably, he struck down the law in its entirety because the individual mandate didn’t include a severability clause, which would have allowed the removal of the provision while leaving the rest of the law intact. Even the Obama administration argued that the individual mandate is so integral to the legislation that the law would be impotent without it.

Vinson wrote, “Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals [of universal health care] in passing the [Affordable Care] Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution.” He added, “[T]his case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation, or whether it will solve or exacerbate the myriad problems in our health care system. In fact, it is not really about our health care system at all. It is principally about our federalist system, and it raises very important issues regarding the constitutional role of the federal government.”

As Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, observed, “This case could define federalism for the next 100 years. If the Obama administration prevails in its view, it’s hard to see what’s left of federalism.”

Typical of its disdain for Rule of Law, an administration official called the originalist ruling “odd and unconventional,” and the White House promised to continue implementation of the law, despite its being ruled unconstitutional. Several states aren’t waiting around, however. Many are ceasing efforts to comply with the mandates and regulations of the law. Virginia is asking the Supreme Court to expedite its hearings on the law.

In Congress, Senate Republicans tried but failed in a vote for full repeal, 47-51. They did succeed, however, in once again putting all Senate Democrats on record as supporting ObamaCare, a status that will no doubt plague many of those who are up for re-election in 2012. In addition, Senate Republicans succeeded, 81-17, in repealing the onerous requirement that businesses file 1099s for goods purchased from vendors that total $600 or more in a year. That mandate would have been a back-breaker for small businesses. Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also introduced legislation allowing states to opt out of any part of ObamaCare.

At the risk of “inciting violence” with fighting metaphors, we hope the continued onslaught against ObamaCare continues to see success, and that this battle to preserve Essential Liberty will eventually be won.

Flush It!

News From the Swamp: Spending Takes Center Stage

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made clearer GOP intentions this week when he said that, while the U.S. will not default on its credit obligations, Congress will cut spending. Boehner put to rest the overblown fears of leftists that Republicans would let the government default when it reaches its debt ceiling in the next few weeks. Default would be disastrous for the global economy and send the U.S. into fiscal chaos. Boehner told reporters, “If the president is going to ask us to increase the debt limit, then he’s going to have to be willing to cut up the credit cards.” The current debt is growing at the rate of about $4 billion per day, and House Republican appropriators have their budget axes targeted on stimulus spending, dumping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and ending ObamaCare, but it will take far more than those fixes to get the government’s fiscal house in order.

In the Senate, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Bob Corker (R-TN) have answered the call by introducing a bill that would cap federal spending at just above 20 percent of the U.S. economy — still a staggering number. This could cut close to $8 trillion from the budget over the next 10 years. The bill wouldn’t call for specific cuts but enforces spending caps with the threat of automatic cuts if agreement cannot be reached.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) even got into the spirit of things by announcing that he will back the GOP in banning earmarks for the next two years. This decision couldn’t have come easily for one of the Senate’s champions of pork spending. Inouye is known for dispensing hundreds of millions of dollars to his home state in the form of new roads, community grants and so forth. Still, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has claimed that he won’t accept earmark requests. Time will tell.

GOP Considers Privatizing Medicare

House Republicans are floating the idea of partially privatizing Medicare in an attempt to save the bloated entitlement. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has released a plan that would allow current enrollees and people within 10 years of eligibility — 55 to 64 — access to Medicare. People outside these parameters would receive a fixed payment at the age of 65 that would allow them to buy into a Medicare-approved private plan from a number of coverage levels. The public remains skeptical, and Democrats have voiced opposition — it is an entitlement program, after all — but we are fast approaching the day when the government simply won’t be able to cover everyone’s favorite entitlement.

New & Notable Legislation

Sen. Susan Collins (R?-ME) is reviving legislation that would put a “kill switch” in the president’s hands to shut down the Internet in case of a cyber-threat. The timing of this legislation could have been better, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last week shut down Internet access in his country in an unsuccessful attempt to quell dissent. In America, we’re told this kill switch would only be used in an emergency such as a cyber attack. However, the American Internet is so decentralized that the only way President Mu-Barack could actually shut it down entirely would be with the cooperation of the private sector, or if Congress acts to centralize authority over the system. Such a move would defeat the purpose of the free exchange of information that now takes place on the Internet.

The House GOP unveiled proposed legislative restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency that would prohibit the vast and powerful bureaucracy from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said the goal is to stop the EPA “from imposing a backdoor cap-and-trade tax,” which it set the table for in late 2009 with its finding that greenhouse gas emissions could be linked to climate change. Upton said, “[F]ederal bureaucrats should not be unilaterally setting national climate change policy.” Amen to that.

Barack Obama signed New START Wednesday. The nuclear arms treaty with Russia will limit each side to 1,550 nuclear warheads, down from 2,200, but it caves to Russian demands limiting U.S. missile defense. Furthermore, the treaty grants Russia a great deal of American trust but verifies nothing. It is, generally speaking, a bad way to “reset” relations with Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to make ratification final this weekend when she swaps signed papers and love notes with her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Reagan Centennial

Don’t miss Mark Alexander’s essay about The Reagan Centennial. Alexander reflects on a genuine American Patriot.

Vindication and Blame for Black Panther Case

Those who believe that justice wasn’t quite served in the 2008 Black Panther voter intimidation case were right according to panelists sitting on the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights. A synopsis of their conclusions was released earlier this week, and the key finding was that the case was “meritorious on the law and the facts.” Commission member Todd Gaziano notes, “Three eyewitnesses … provided powerful and convincing testimony that the former defendants had engaged in intimidating conduct, and that voters had turned away from the polling place rather than walk within a billy-club swing of the entrance.” Sounds pretty open-and-shut to us.

Other remarks by commissioners about the performance of the Department of Justice were nearly as damning, including the administration’s reticence to enforce the purging of voter rolls as states are mandated by existing law. On the other hand, Democrat appointees to the civil rights body excused the department’s actions, blind to the impact it could have on future elections. With the prospect of Republican oversight, at least in the House of Representatives, flouting the law by selective prosecution may become vastly more difficult.

Unfortunately, justice delayed is truly justice denied in this case. A voter intimidated on Election Day doesn’t get a second chance to cast a ballot. Of course, holding on to power by any means possible will certainly be the objective of Obama and his allies next year.

National Security

Warfront With Jihadistan: Egyptian Uprising

It has been an extraordinary few weeks in the Middle East, to put it mildly. First, following riots by protesters demanding “freedom,” Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country after 23 years in power. Two weeks later came the biggest bombshell, as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets, demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt under “emergency” law since 1981.

The hated Egyptian security forces showed up to quash the protesters but were themselves brushed aside by crowds that wouldn’t back down. Next came the Egyptian Army, which had it in its power to gun down as many protesters as needed to restore order, but chose instead to do nothing. After arriving at key locations around Cairo, the Army made no attempt to suppress the protesters, even mingling with them for pictures and joyous conversation in some places. Finally, thousands of Yemenis openly protested their repressive government, demanding the ouster of 30-year President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his notoriously corrupt regime.

Why, after so many years suffering under the iron fist of their rulers, have these Arab populations finally had enough? Why were Iranians willing to take on the regime’s security forces in 2009, following yet another rigged election, when so many previous rigged elections had gone by with hardly a notice?

There are doubtless different reasons for each nation that has recently experienced a popular uprising, but one common factor has had some influence on each of them: that of watching Iraqis slowly but resolutely building a truly democratic nation for themselves. Arabs in the region no doubt began to ask why they should live under tyranny when their neighbors in Iraq are free. Iranian Shia began to ask why they should live under a medieval clerical regime when their Iraqi Shia neighbors are free. Persians and Arabs, Sunni and Shia, all are human beings who share the same desire for liberty, and Iraq is proving that such a life is possible even where repressive tyranny has been the norm for generations. Contrary to the thinking of those on the Left, might there have been something to the Middle East “domino principle” that George W. Bush and his administration put forth in the run-up to the Iraq War?

This is not to say that the outcome in Egypt or Tunisia is sure to be a good democratic government. Palestinians were allowed free elections and chose Hamas, a Muslim mafia more devoted to destroying Israel than to building a Palestinian state. In Egypt, along with the usual entrenched interests and cronies in any dictatorship, there is the extremist Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is an offshoot. While Egypt’s security services have succeeded in largely driving the Brotherhood underground, it is still a powerful force there, and, like Hamas, it’s more interested in killing Israelis than in raising Egyptians. If allowed to hijack Egypt’s transition from Mubarak to a new government, another Arab-Israeli war could follow. Celebrate the imminent ouster of a dictator in Egypt — but be very attentive to what comes next.

Fence Setter

TSA Backtracks on Private Company Competition

Apparently, the federal government is reserving for itself the right to harass, grope and fondle the American flying public. The Screening Partnership Program, which allowed airports to hire private contractors who worked under TSA oversight rather than using Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners, is being stopped just a month after the TSA said its position on the program was “neutral.” Last Friday, TSA chief John Pistole announced that he didn’t see any advantage to the program and so will not expand it, although the 16 airports that currently use the program will be allowed to continue.

The “opt out” program started making headlines in December after the TSA sprung its strip search machines and “enhanced pat down” procedures, or “sexual assault” if done by anyone else, on an unsuspecting public. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) encouraged the opt-out program, saying private contractors are more responsive to the public than impossible-to-fire federal employees. At the time, the TSA didn’t oppose the program, with a spokesman saying, “If airports choose this route, we are going to work with them to do it.”

When told of the new TSA stance, Mica indicated he would launch an investigation, saying, “It’s unimaginable that TSA would suspend the most successfully performing passenger screening program we’ve had over the last decade. The agency should concentrate on cutting some of the more than 3,700 administrative personnel in Washington who concocted this decision, and reduce the army of TSA employees that has ballooned to more than 62,000.” No doubt preserving that bloated 62,000 number is one of the reasons the TSA made this move.

Senate Report on Fort Hood

“A new Senate report on the 2009 Fort Hood shooting blames the FBI and Department of Defense for failing to recognize or act on alleged shooter Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s extremist views,” ABC News reports. It took a Senate report to figure that out? The report said, “DOD possessed compelling evidence that Hasan embraced views so extreme that it should have disciplined him or discharged him from the military, but DOD failed to take action against him.” Now, if Hasan had been associated with the Tea Party rather than Islamic jihad…

News of the Bizarre

A “Black Widow” suicide bomber planned an attack in Moscow on New Year’s Eve and her night ended with a bang — just not the one she expected. According to Russian authorities, the woman received an unexpected text message on her cell phone, which caused her suicide belt to detonate prematurely, killing her in the privacy of her safe house. No one else was injured. Around here, we call that a “self-solver.” By the way, the text was a spam message from her phone service provider wishing her a Happy New Year.

Business & Economy

Regulatory Commissars: You Will Be What We Tell You to Eat

Perhaps the Obama administration sees the handwriting on the wall for ObamaCare thanks to Judge Vinson, but that doesn’t mean liberty-loving Americans shouldn’t watch for end-runs around a patriotic judge who takes his oath seriously. Determined to make Americans eat in a more healthful manner, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack jointly announced earlier this week new federal nutritional guidelines emphasizing the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and cutting out sodium. Since the government has suggested we eat a certain way for years, it would seem to be nothing out of the ordinary.

However, a proposal on the table aroused interest — subsidizing the purchase of fruits and vegetables for those millions of Americans now getting food assistance from the government. Based on a pilot program in Massachusetts, Vilsack explained, “The grocer basically gets paid full value for the fruit or vegetable that’s being purchased but it’s only credited, say, 70 or 80 percent on the card.” In essence, for each dollar charged by the grocery store the recipient gets a discount on the amount deducted from the state-issued debit card.

Of course, given that small step it wouldn’t be hard to foresee the opposite for foods deemed bad for you — that Twinkie may be $1 in the store but $2 off the card. It’s all because Beltway bureaucrats — led by the smoker-in-chief, by the way — believe they know best.

Administration Held in Contempt

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman held the Obama administration in contempt Thursday for “determined disregard” in continuing its offshore drilling moratorium in spite of that moratorium being struck down in court. The administration enacted the ban in May after BP’s Gulf spill in April. It was struck down in June, but the White House simply tweaked a few things and renewed the ban. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is sitting on 103 permits.

“Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance,” Feldman wrote. “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium, and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt.” We’re glad someone else has noticed.

Staggering Number of U.S. Homes Vacant

Since the housing market took us into the recession of 2008, will a recovery in housing demand spark a greater recovery in the economy as a whole? Don’t count on it. As of this week, a staggering 11 percent of all homes in the United States are vacant. This statistic includes homes that have been foreclosed on as well as those few remaining homes built to be resold, a “spec home” in banker lingo.

Banks will sell a foreclosed property if possible, or lease it if necessary. But with an 11 percent vacancy rate, the probability is that homes are not being marketed due to lack of demand. With the decline in owner occupancy the demand for rental housing has increased, though that doesn’t completely solve the problem. Lenders are holding many homes off the rental market, hoping that demand will recover with the lengthening of days and the greening of lawns.

Buyers are needed to initiate a recovery. Given the experiences of the current crop of homeowners, potential first-time buyers are saying “no thanks.” They don’t see a benefit to taking on debt to acquire a fixed asset that could decline in value. There are few signs that millions of new homebuyers are going to appear, meaning this problem may be with us for some time.

Around the Nation: Illinois Tax Repeal Afoot

Responding to what the conservative Illinois Policy Institute refers to as an “astounding backlash,” Illinois Republicans are vowing to make the repeal of the state’s new income tax rates their number-one priority in 2011. The backlash seems to have surprised Democrats as well, so much so that some of them are wavering on the benefits of the whopping 67 percent hike. Even those who pushed the measure in the recent lame-duck session have admitted that the revenues generated by the tax won’t be enough to close the state’s $15 billion deficit.

As we reported last month, the states surrounding Illinois have taken full advantage of the hike, rolling out the welcome mat to businesses and individuals who would rather not be taxed into the poor house. While Democrat Governor Pat Quinn and others on the Left have said Illinoisans won’t flee the state, they may have something to worry about. According to a recent poll conducted by the Policy Institute, 70 percent believe that the government spends too much, while only 33 percent believe that raising taxes is the way out of the fiscal crisis.

Republican State Senator Matt Murphy is sponsoring the bill to repeal, citing the anger of his constituents not only at the hike itself, but the fact that the lame-duck legislature slipped it in right before leaving office. “Governor Quinn should do what he always says,” Murphy challenged, “‘let the will of the people be the law of the land.'”

Culture & Policy

Second Amendment: Obama to Call for More Gun Control

Newsweek reports, “[Barack] Obama intentionally did not mention gun control in his State of the Union, but aides say that in the next two weeks the administration will unveil a campaign to get Congress to toughen existing laws.” Rather, Newsweek continued, “Obama will address the gun issue in a separate speech, likely early” in February. White House officials said that Obama avoided gun control in his SOTU so as to not appear to be politicizing the mass shooting in Arizona last month. For some reason, he thinks that waiting two more weeks will do the trick. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) capitalized on the Tucson tragedy to introduce a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Expect the administration to get behind this and other equally draconian legislation.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also made political hay after Tucson — by conducting a sting operation in Arizona. It is right across the border from New York, after all. Among his targets (please note that we’re not trying to incite violence by using that word) were gun shows, where he was dismayed to find that citizens sell guns to other citizens without checking with him first. Honestly, doesn’t the mayor have something better to do, like targeting smokers and saltshakers in his own city?

Planned Parenthood Caught on Tape

Forget 15 minutes of fame. It took under 11 minutes for undercover investigators equipped with a hidden camera to put Planned Parenthood in the spotlight. The video, shot at Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey and released this week by Live Action, shows a Planned Parenthood manager advising a pair posing as a pimp and prostitute how to get abortions for underage, trafficked girls in a sex ring, as well as suggesting that the girls lie about their ages to avoid reporting laws. The worker was fired, but the same thing was soon repeated in Richmond, Virginia, and as many as three other locations to be released soon.

This latest example of disdain for the law by the nation’s largest abortion mill joins a string of others. National Review Online notes Planned Parenthood workers have been caught “willing to accept a donation specifically earmarked to abort a black baby … willing to violate parental-involvement laws, and … unwilling to report statutory rape when an underage girl admits to engaging in sexual activity with a man in his 30s.”

According to Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s 2008-2009 Annual Report, $363.2 million of its $1.1 billion in revenue came from government grants and contracts. This isn’t the first time tax dollars have funded criminal activity. In 2009, we spotlighted the ACORN bust, in which undercover conservatives, posing as a pimp and prostitute, were able to get advice on securing a home loan to fund a brothel. Readers will recall that ACORN had received more than $50 million in taxpayer dollars since 1994. Congress subsequently voted to defund ACORN. It’s high time they do the same to the abortionists Planned Parenthood.

Faith and Family: Chick-fil-A Faces Political Opposition

To Chick-fil-A or not to Chick-fil-A? That is the question for many homosexual activists this week. The popular fast food chain, which has been family-owned since its founding in 1967, is known not only for its food, but for its commitment to Christianity. Now, the company’s recent sandwich donation to a conservative group’s marriage seminar in Pennsylvania is causing some homosexual activists to choose between chicken and a Big Mac. The backlash has extended, of course, to college campuses, and its severity prompted company president Dan T. Cathy to post a conciliatory statement on Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page. His video, in which he states that Chick-fil-A treats everyone with respect and dignity, illuminates for us all the harsh reality of doing business in America today.

What liberals are never able to do is distinguish true injustice from something they don’t agree with. Whatever one’s view on marriage, Chick-fil-A’s owners are well within their rights to run their private company according to their religious beliefs — as are businesses that favor leftist causes. These activists seek not to make a better counterargument, but to make Chick-fil-A — and the good people the chain employs — suffer for their beliefs.

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File

Not content to act for TV and stage alone, actor Richard Dreyfuss has taken on a new role, casting himself as arbiter of appropriate political discourse. This new production of his could easily be titled a remake of “Charade.” After all, this is the same Richard Dreyfuss who claimed he had to channel his inner Hitler in order to accurately portray Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone’s “W.” It’s also the same Richard Dreyfuss who praised as “beautifully phrased” MSNBC’s Ed Schultz’s description of Cheney as an “enemy of the country,” a “dirtbag,” and a “freakin’ loser” who he wished would go to the “promised land” (i.e., die). Ah yes, a perfect role model for polite discourse! He’s about as convincing as Wile E. Coyote launching a “Be Kind to Road Runners” campaign.

Speaking of civility, it seems the same rules don’t apply to the new imam of the Ground Zero mosque, whose views on homosexuality and religious freedom are apparently acceptable (no doubt courtesy of his Muslim appellation). As the New York Post reports, Abdallah Adhami has called homosexuality a “painful trial,” blamed it on “some [past] form of violent emotional or sexual abuse,” and compared any “natural inclination” towards homosexuality to that found in the animal kingdom. And as to religious freedom, Adhami advocates jail time for Muslims who leave the faith and then preach their views to others. Where is Richard “Civility” Dreyfuss on this one? Where are the news media? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

And Last…

“Breaking wind is set to be made a crime in an African country,” reports the UK Daily Mail. “The government of Malawi plan to punish persistent offenders ‘who foul the air’ in a bid to ‘mould responsible and disciplined citizens.'” Of course, locals worry that the blame game will sniff out the wrong “criminal.” One Malawian lamented, “My goodness. What happens in a public place where a group is gathered? Do they lock up half a minibus?” Environmentalists have alleged that cow flatulence contributes to global warming, but implicating humans is sure to cause an even bigger stink. The problem is, when passing gas is outlawed, only outlaws will pass gas.

*****

(Please pray for our Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families — especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)

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