January 31, 2011

Federal Judge in Florida: Obamacare Unconstitutional in Its Entirety

Via Reuters, mostly pre-spin (bolds are mine):

Judge strikes down healthcare reform law

A federal judge in Florida struck down President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul as unconstitutional on Monday in the biggest legal challenge yet to federal authority to enact the law.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the reform law’s so-called individual mandate went too far in requiring that Americans start buying health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.

“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void,” he wrote, “This has been a difficult decision to reach and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications.”

Referring to a key provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Vinson sided with governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans, in declaring the Obama healthcare reform unconstitutional.

“Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,” Vinson, who was appointed to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan, ruled.

The Obama administration said it would appeal Vinson’s ruling and believed it would prevail on a highly politicized issue likely to end up at the Supreme Court.

“We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling today and continue to believe — as other federal courts have found — that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional,” Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.

The judge jettisoned the junk with a nice jab at a certain former “constitutional law professor” in the process:

Judge uses Obama’s words against him

… “I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of the 78-page ruling Monday.

Much of the 78-page ruling was a discussion of how the nation’s founding fathers, such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, set limits on congressional power. Judge Vinson also hypothesized that, under the Obama administration‘s legal theory, the government could mandate eating broccoli.

White House officials said that sort of “surpassingly curious reading” called into question Judge Vinson‘s entire ruling.

“There’s something thoroughly odd and unconventional about the analysis,” said a White House official who briefed reporters late Monday afternoon, speaking on condition of anonymity.

What’s “odd” is that a constitutional law professor thinks he can say anything during a campaign and it won’t come back to haunt him.

Oh, and now making people buy insurance is conventional? No guys, it’s objectively unconstitutional. The only question is whether higher courts will rule as the Constitution would dictate without the document itself being amended.

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UPDATE: At the Tatler, Stephen Green is taking issue with Reuters’s characterization of the individual mandate as “so-called.” Well, yes and no. My guess is that the words “individual” and “mandate” don’t appear together in the law, so technically the wire service’s use of “so-called” slides by. If it had put “individual mandate” in scare quotes that would have been another matter.

Green also takes issue with the report’s reference the judge being a Reagan appointee and to “almost all” Republican governors being in the group of 26. As to the latter, it passes the accuracy test as long as the group of 26 has 23 or more GOPers, which I think it does. As to the former, if Reuters fails to flag Clinton or Obama appointees in rulings on appeal, that will be another matter.

At AP, ‘Waivers’ Are For Sports, Not Health Care; NYT Saves Outrage for ‘Something Is Worse Than Nothing’ Plans

It would appear that if it weren’t for the center-right blogosphere, Fox News, a few business dailies, a few conservative pundits, and talk radio, very few people would know about the hundreds of waivers granted by the Obama administration to companies, unions, not-for-profits, states, and other entities wishing to be spared the burdens of complying with Obamacare for at least another year.

The latest count as of last Wednesday’s Health and Human Services Department press release was 732, including four states: Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, and Tennessee.

That the waiver situation is not more widely known is largely due to the fact that the establishment press has shown almost no interest in it.

The Associated Press has had five days to cover HHS’s latest release. It is news, as HHS’s release was, as far as I can tell, the first indication that “Over 500 waivers were granted in December.” Here is the result of a search on “health waivers” (not in quotes) at the AP’s main web site at about 10:00 this morning:

APsearchOnHealthWaivers013110at10am

In other words, there’s nothing relevant.

Related searches on “exemptions,” “waiver,” and “waivers” return nothing relevant to HHS’s release.

At the New York Times, a search on “health care waivers”  turns up one relevant item from Friday dealing with how the states are addressing ballooning Medicaid costs, including in certain instances asking for exemptions from certain ObamaCare provisions. But the last time the Times addressed waivers for non-governmental entities was back in early December, and the focus then (“Opponents Take Aim at Limited Health Plans” — note the gun allusion) was on how limited coverage plans like one offered by McDonald’s, which received an Obamacare waiver, are, in West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller’s opinion, “worse than nothing because of the false expectations and the false hope.” The Times’s Reed Abelson opened his story by writing: “Maybe something isn’t always better than nothing.” Less specific Times searches surfaced no additional recent pertinent items.

From what I can tell, the Times has not noted the roster of Obamacare-backing unions which have obtained waivers. JIm Angle at Fox News has noted the situation:

Hundreds of entities from banks to church groups to school districts are saying they can’t live up to the law.

The group also includes dozens of unions chapters, most of which supported passage of the bill — from electrical workers to Teamsters to the Service Employees Union, which organizes low wage workers.

Even a union representing NY Firefighters asked for a waiver, as well as several states whose own health care requirements were lower than the new federal law.

Michelle Malkin recited a roster in her latest syndicated column:

Most noteworthy: One-fourth of all the waivers (182) so far have gone to Big Labor groups across the country.

The Teamsters Union, which hailed Obama last March for “enacting historic health care reform, providing health insurance to millions of Americans who don’t have it and controlling costs for millions more who do,” obtained waivers for 17 different locals.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which celebrated the passage of Obamacare as “an achievement that will rank among the highest in our national experience,” secured waivers for 28 different affiliates.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — which exulted after the health care law’s passage that “finally, affordable and comprehensive health care coverage will be available for millions of working Americans” — saw 8 of its affiliates win shelter from the Obamacare wrecking ball.

The Communications Workers of America, which sent its workers to lobby for Obamacare on Capitol Hill as part of the left-wing billionaire George Soros-funded Health Care for America Now front group, snagged a waiver that will spare a hefty 19,000 of its members from the onerous federal mandate.

And the Service Employees International Union, which poured $60 million into Democrat/Obama coffers in 2008 and millions more into the Astroturf campaign for the federal health care takeover, added four new affiliates to the waiver list …

A Friday Investors Business Daily editorial (“Where’s Our Waiver?”) makes lots of good points, including this one:

ObamaCare is in effect repealing itself, waiver by waiver. If it’s so great, the Senate should vote on its repeal without fear.

It should not be forgotten that the administration didn’t have to grant a single waiver if it didn’t feel like it. My recall of the law is that there isn’t even a requirement that HHS be consistent in its waiver-granting criteria. If repeal doesn’t occur soon and statist health care proponents seen an opening in the political climate, the waivers may stop a year or two before the January 1, 2014 full implementation date — either selectively or en masse.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

IBD: ‘Where’s Our Waiver?’

In a Friday editorial, Investors Business Daily mocks ObamaCare’s official name, and makes a number of very important points.

Here are the final six paragraphs:

It seems ObamaCare is neither affordable nor comprehensive.

The exemption list even includes 4 states — Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee — that collectively cover 2.1 million workers. As we’ve noted, corporations such as McDonald’s are also on the waiver list, saying ObamaCare makes their plans unworkable and unaffordable.

ObamaCare is in effect repealing itself, waiver by waiver. If it’s so great, the Senate should vote on its repeal without fear.

Defunding should commence, as should House hearings exposing this fraudulent power grab. By the way, these new waivers come a week after Republicans announced plans to investigate the earlier waivers granted to groups for health care reform provisions.

Question: If the provisions these entities are exempt from are a hardship, then isn’t the entire piece of legislation?

How about granting America a waiver?

I’d also like to know more about the 50 entities which attempted to get waivers and were turned down. Equal protection, anyone?

Those who don’t like my repeated references to the T-word are going to have to deal with it, because once again, we are seeing tyranny (“arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority”) exemplified in the waiver process.

Lucid Links (013111, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:01 am

Non-shock of last week, from the UK Independent (“Russians name Muslim convert as prime suspect for airport bombing”; HT Atlas Shrugs):

Security sources have named an ethnic Russian Christian who converted to Islam as the prime suspect in Monday’s deadly suicide bombing at a Moscow airport.

Sources close to the investigation said that Vitaly Razdobudko, a 32-year-old from the southern Russian city of Stavropol, was being sought in connection with the attack, the Kommersant newspaper reported yesterday.

That would be “a former ethnic Russian Christian.”

Another non-shock — The Associated Press whitewashes the Islamist connection, as usual:

The respected newspaper Kommersant on Thursday reported that suspects in the airport bombing included a man identified as Vitaly Razdobudko, allegedly a member of an insurgent group in the Stavropol region of the Caucasus called the Nogai Brigade.

The AP apparently doesn’t want to make its Arab-state paymasters unhappy.

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Good news, via the Daily Telegraph — “A “BLACK Widow” suicide bomber who planned to detonate explosives in central Moscow was killed when a spam text message from her mobile-phone company set off the device early.”

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My instinct since Egypt erupted has been that Mubarak is no angel, but the alternatives appear to be worse. Some items supporting that instinct:

  • Bryan Preston — “ElBaradei: friend of the Muslim Brotherhood”
  • Claudia Rossett — “Egypt: Please, Not ElBaradei”
  • Caroline Glick — “The Pragmatic Fantasy” — “Elbaradei’s support for the Iranian ayatollahs is matched by his support for the Muslim Brotherhood.”
  • At the UK Telegraph — “US Secretly backs uprising in Egypt”
  • Update: Andy McCarthy — “Fear the Muslim Brotherhood”

In the final item, ”US” means “the Obama administration.” It has an eerie three-decade echo: “Carter administration backs Ayatollah over Shah.” That didn’t work out too well (Update: A stronger echo — “Cairo: Anger starting to focus on Israel, US”). Ron Radosh at Pajamas Media (“The New American Fans of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt”) already sees leftist useful-idiot apologists emerging.

Further Update (slightly revised on February 1): From Roger Kimball at PJM, is concerned about Obama advisor Bruce Reidel (“Alfred E. Neuman in the driver’s seat”). That characterization would appear to be an insult — to Mr. Newman. If a bunch of Reidels in the State Department and other influential positions end up having their way, it may end up being fair to say that Obama (and Hillary Clinton) lost Egypt.

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Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal:

Cap and Trade Returns From the Grave
The president’s plans for “clean energy standards” amount to carbon controls by other means.

… Mr. Obama has no intention of letting go of his carbon-free world. He instead went to plan B. Specifically, he called in his speech for the nation to “join” him in a “new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.” What the president was in essence calling for—in happier, fuzzier, broader language—is what policy wonks refer to as a “renewable portfolio standard.” This is a government mandate requiring that utilities produce annually a specific amount of their electricity from renewable sources—wind, solar, biofuels.

It’s also cap and trade by another name. Consider: The goal of cap and trade is to impose crushing taxes on fossil fuels—oil, coal, natural gas—thereby forcing utilities to switch to costly renewables. Under Mr. Obama’s new proposal, the government skips the tax part and outright requires the use of costly renewables. The result is the same: dramatically higher energy prices, from carbon-free sources.

This fits the Obama admin template for the next two years: Appear to govern moderately, regulate radically — in this case, in the name of a hoax. Oh, and if you think it’s bad now, wait until you see what he does as a lame-duck Executive Order-generating loser (if that’s what happens) in January 2013, or as a lame-duck two-termer (if it comes to that) in January 2017.

Meanwhile, from earlier this year (warning: pictures of naked bodies at a long distance are at link; I’m not kidding), there seems to a need for “a new kind of climate journalism” in Europe:

Climate activists have begun directing millions in funding into training programs for environmental journalists, with the goal of encouraging what’s known as “advocacy journalism.”

That’s not an issue in the U.S. We already have the Associated Press, the New York Times, and dozens of other outlets practicing climate-nonsense “advocacy journalism” on a daily basis.

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Only in Obamaland: “Rules? We Don’t Have Rules”

FCC seeks to dismiss net neutrality challenges

The Federal Communications Commission is asking a federal appeals court to dismiss two legal challenges to its new “network neutrality” regulations. Those rules, adopted by the agency last month, prohibit phone and cable companies from interfering with traffic on their broadband networks.

The rules are being challenged by Verizon Communications Inc. and Metro PCS Communications Inc., which argue that the FCC has exceeded its legal authority.

The FCC argues that Verizon and Metro PCS filed their challenges prematurely since the new rules have not yet been published in the federal register.

Sure, and they’ll get around to publishing them … oh, eventually … maybe in 2013 or so.

Publishing official rules gets in the way of what the net neutrality nannies will settle for if they can’t have their statist way outright: A regime of uncertainty that puts a freeze on full-blown tech advancement.

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Great unsolved mystery: Why Rob Portman or anyone else thinks that 1.4 million jobs are going to be generated by one provision in a bill described in this January 25 press release (HT Columbus Dispatch; full text of bill; bolds are mine) —

Today, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced the introduction of his first piece of legislation, the Job Creation Act of 2011. The Job Creation Act of 2011 would provide needed tax and regulatory relief to the private sector to help create new jobs and provide greater certainty for our economy at a time when it is badly needed.

… “We need to focus on pro-growth policies, like those included in the Job Creation Act, in order to create an environment that fosters job growth and gets Americans back to work. If passed, this legislation will create over 1.4 million jobs, provide nearly $240 billion in tax relief, reduce the deficit by $85 billion and eliminate some of the most burdensome mandates on job creators,” continued Portman.

Over the past two years, Washington has been making it harder, not easier, for companies of all sizes to create jobs. The Job Creation Act of 2011 is a significant step in the other direction which will immediately help companies grow, create jobs and invest in the future. Economists estimate the payroll tax section of the Job Creation Act alone would create more than 1.4 million jobs. The legislation would provide nearly $240 billion in tax relief to foster hiring and investment while reducing the deficit by $85 billion and ending job destroying mandates on job creators.

In case you’re wondering, the word “job” appears 23 times in about 350 words of the full release, its title.

The “payroll tax section” reduces the employer portion of Social Security and the self-employment tax by two percentage points (to 4.2% and 8.4%, respectively) — starting in the second quarter (“The amendments made by subsection (a)(1) shall not apply with respect to compensation paid during the first calendar quarter of 2011″). That means that very highly compensated employees and self-employed folks will get no break; because SocSec taxation stops at the $106,000 in earnings, by April 1 they will already have paid all they are going to pay, but at the higher rate.

Since it piggybacks last year’s last-minute legislation which kept the federal income tax from increasing for everyone (this was commonly referred to as “extending the Bush tax cuts”) and reduced the employee portion of Social Security for one year, Portman’s employer break would end on December 21, 2011.

I want to hear from one of the “economists” who can justify Portman’s from all appearances totally ridiculous estimate that this one-time, very temporary item alone would generate 1.4 million jobs. I’m a big supply-side econ fan, but this is not supply-side econ.

Note

Filed under: General — Tom @ 12:02 am

An item on the nation’s fiscal situation appeared here last night. It was removed, because it is being held for possible publication elsewhere.

Positivity: Rejection of euthanasia not unique to Christians, states French bishop

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 12:01 am

From Rome:

Jan 28, 2011 / 07:12 pm

Bishop Bernard Ginoux of Montauban, France has noted that opposition to euthanasia is not unique to the Christian faith.

The French Senate recently voted 170-142 against a bill legalizing euthanasia. Bishop Ginoux reflected on the results, saying, “We are dealing with human beings and the respect for every human life. No one can deliberately kill.”

“Whenever the law allows for killing, it is granting human beings an absolute power over others, those who are the weakest and most defenseless. The fact that it is done by a team in a hospital, even if they are specialists, doesn’t change anything.

“Medicine is supposed to cure, and those who cure must not become assassins,” the bishop said in remarks to the French daily La Croix on Jan. 25. …

Go here for the rest of the story at the Catholic News Agency.

Go here for an English translation of a related La Croix article.