The no-good, horrible, terrible week for the credentialed morons.
Newton believed that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and while he was observing physical phenomenon, the same can be said this week of American politics.
If last week signaled this was going to be a long, hot summer, this week reminded me to start advertising more widely my new business venture: provisioning sharpened pikes at the gates of D.C.
Credentialed morons in Congress, with the president's urging, rammed down our throats a massive restructuring of our medical system, bribing, arm-twisting, playing fast and loose with the rules and the truth. And overreaching jurists, with an imperial sense of there being no limits to their power under the Constitution, continued jabbing their thumbs in the electorate's eyes.
Last summer's town halls quickly morphed into the Tea Party movement and, in turn, into open rebellion by states and voters alike. Through all of this, the political class, locked in its parochial, self-aggrandizing bubble, sees nothing amiss.
Speaker Pelosi called vacationing Congress back to enact a $26-billion payoff to public service employees and the improvident states, which will enable them to bankrupt us all. Michelle Obama headed off for a $375,000 taxpayer-paid vacation in Marbella, Spain with Sasha in tow, apparently in the misguided belief that this place has the kind of cachet suitable to prance around in her unbecoming but expensive fashions. (This is her sixth vacation since March, and two more are scheduled before the kids return to school.) In the meantime, the Recovery Summer is, in Rush's words, looking more like the summer of life support. The true unemployment figure is credibly estimated at 22% ("unexpected" as that may be to media like Reuters and the AP, which also seem ensconced in the bubble with the political class). And despite billions spent on "shovel-ready jobs" like sidewalks to nowhere, the economy is in bad shape as people shove what they have in their mattresses rather than leave it to the whims of the political class to steal to pay off their base.
(a) ObamaCare Stalls on the Shoals
The economy is not the only thing stalled. ObamaCare, the monstrosity which Obama envisioned as his historical achievement, is now becalmed. This administration persuaded itself that it knew better what we needed than the voters, the health care administrators, the physicians and other health care providers, and the insurers. It laughed at the suggestion that the Constitution permits an individual mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance, the linchpin of the plan.
Last November, a reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if it was constitutional for Congress to require Americans to buy health insurance. Ms. Pelosi responded, "Are you serious?"
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson got serious. He denied Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the state of Virginia challenging the new health law. His ruling stated that it is far from certain Congress has the authority to compel Americans to buy insurance and penalize those who don't.
Judge Hudson's ruling paved the way for a trial to begin on October 18, with possible appeals all the way to the Supreme Court, a lengthy process. Some states will likely delay creating insurance exchanges and slow down other costly preparations for ObamaCare until its constitutionality is determined by this case.
Because there is no clause in the act saving the remainder of it if this provision is deemed unconstitutional, if it fails, the entire house of cards goes with it.
Twenty other states and several individuals are suing elsewhere to overturn the Act.
Virginia, the first case in which the government has failed to pass the motion to dismiss, has made it illegal to require any state resident to purchase health insurance.
Contrary to Pelosi's imperious suggestion that the opposition was mere partisan posturing, Judge Hudson ruled that "never before has the commerce clause and associated necessary and proper clause been extended this far."
The suit has not been resolved, but I think it fair to say Judge Hudson has tipped his hand about the merits of the case and should inspirit the twenty other states and the national federation of Independent Business, which have similar claims pending.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many states will delay implementation measures based on this decision, contending that the uncertainty in the law justifies their refusal to undertake the costly, complicated measures needed to carry out the law in their states.
(b) Financial Hocus-Pocus Revealed
Voters overwhelmingly did not believe the claims advanced by Obamacare supporters that the Act would be a budget-saver, and their judgment is proving sounder than that of the proponents of Obamacare.
HHS Secretary Sebelius was caught out double-counting Medicare savings, which the Act was said to assure. Philip Klein writes:
Both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Congressional Budget Office have said that the Obama administration cannot claim that the Medicare cuts they are enacting will simultaneously finance the new health care law, which is supposed to cover 30 million uninsured, and extend the solvency of the existing Medicare program.
But that hasn't stopped the administration from continuing to make both claims anyway. And when I asked about this on a Monday conference call held to tout Medicare savings, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dismissed the conclusion of the CMS actuary, and falsely claimed that the CBO had taken a different view. [snip]
Her statement that the CBO had taken a different view on this is demonstrably false. On several occasions, the CBO has determined that you can't double-count Medicare savings.
In a March letter to Paul Ryan, the CBO wrote that a majority of the Medicare savings from the health care law "would be used to pay for other spending and therefore would not enhance the ability of the government to pay for future Medicare benefits." Last December, in a letter to Sen. Jeff Sessions, the CBO explained this in further detail. That letter concluded that: "To describe the full amount of (Medicare hospital insurance) trust fund savings as both improving the government's ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government's fiscal position." And the lies continue, with a boost from the NYT's crack economist, Paul Krugman. From Just One Minute:
In other words, the Medicare actuaries believe that the cost-saving provisions in the Obama health reform will make a huge difference to the long-run budget outlook. Yes, it's just a projection, and debatable like all projections. And it's still not enough. But anyone who both claims to be worried about the long-run deficit and was opposed to health reform has some explaining to do.
Opponents of ObamaCare have some explaining to do? All they need to do is cite the actuary's opinion, found at the end of the Trustees report. The comedy gold (my emphasis):
...the financial projections shown in this report for Medicare do not represent a reasonable expectation for actual program operations in either the short range (as a result of the unsustainable reductions in physician payment rates) or the long range (because of the strong likelihood that the statutory reductions in price updates for most categories of Medicare provider services will not be viable).
To rephrase the Excited Prof slightly, in other words, the Medicare actuaries don't believe that the cost-saving provisions in the Obama health reform will make a huge difference to the long-run budget outlook.
Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection summarizes the work of Mary Katherine Ham and Guy Benson in cataloguing the president's, Pelosi's, and Reid's lies about ObamaCare -- lies the public understood to be so almost from the moment they were made: Mary Katherine Ham and Guy Benson have a guest post at HotAir setting forth 10 key false promises by Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats about Obamacare, ObamaCare: The sum of all fears. The post is long, but worth the read.
Here are the 10 false promises:
- Promise #1: If you are satisfied with your existing health care arrangement, you can keep it.
- Promise #2: Reform will lower America's health care spending.
- Promise #3: Reform will lower Americans' health care premiums.
- Promise #4: Obamacare will not lead to a doctor shortage, or escalate the primary-care physician shortfall.
- Promise #5: There will be no government rationing of medical care.
- Promise #6: "The firm pledge" - Ninety-five percent of Americans will not see any form of tax increase because of Obamacare (or anything else).
- Promise #7: Health care reform won't add "a single dime" to the deficit-and will actually cut it.
- Promise #8: Health care reform will help businesses-employers and employees, alike.
- Promise #9: Obamacare will not allow for funding of abortions with taxpayer money.
Promise #10: Obamacare will not only satisfy each of the promises above, but satisfy all of them at the same time with virtually no downsides.
(c) Voters Strike Back
The Show Me state, Missouri, entered the fray and showed the political class that the voters are neither stupid nor acquiescent in this fraud. It was the first time any voters anywhere have had the opportunity to show what they think of the individual mandate -- and by implication, Obamacare. If the administration could read and count, it would see a tsunami heading its way. James Taranto writes in the Wall Street Journal: Official election returns show that citizens of the Show Me State voted overwhelmingly--71% to 29% in favor of Proposition C, a ballot measure described in a pre-election report from Time magazine:
Meanwhile, Time reports that other states will have ObamaCare opt-out measures on the ballot in November. If yesterday's results in Missouri are any indication, Nov. 2 could be a long night for congressional Democrats--and for the White House.
Michael Tanner writes in NRO:
[T]he results may be even more devastating for the Democrats than initially thought.
According to preliminary results, just under 668,000 Missourians voted in favor of Proposition C. Only 578,000 Republicans voted in their party's primaries. Another 40,000 voters appear to have cast votes on Proposition C without voting in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. So, even if you assume that every single Republican voted for the initiative and every person who didn't vote in a primary voted for it, at least 40,000 Democrats -- more than one in every eight Democratic primary voters -- voted against the centerpiece of President Obama's health-care plan. And these aren't just any registered Democrats; these are the party activists, the Democratic base.
Do we need any more evidence of how unpopular this bill is?
I don't need more evidence, but who knows if anything will persuade the political class, which would, like the Last Empress of China, spend the naval budget on a concrete armada on the grounds of the Capitol if they could find a farthing left anywhere left to spend.
(d) The Eyes of Texas Are on the EPA: A State Strikes Back
Unable to cripple the economy further with a cap and trade bill, Congress left it to the EPA to regulate carbon emissions, and the agency set about as quickly as possible to indicate that it, too, wanted to play a role in the undemocratic, imperial presidency. It set up greenhouse gas regulations and demanded states pledge allegiance to this benighted scheme, which the people's elected representatives would not and could not enact.
Texas responded with a tough letter indicating that the agency's regulations are contrary to U.S. law and that the state "had neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions." The Stratasphere points us to this: William Yeatman has a good, brief rundown of the environmental law at issue here and what the EPA is trying to do here:
In a nutshell, the administration wants to pick and choose which sections of the Clean Air Act apply to greenhouse gases, but that's not how the legislation works. In fact, the Clean Air Act is written such that one provision tripwires another, which tripwires another, and so on and so forth, until the whole Act applies. When the Congress created this of belt-and-suspenders approach to regulation, in the 1970s, it was trying to limit particulate pollution that causes smog. Greenhouse gases, however, are emitted in much greater quantities than particulate pollution. As a result, the Clean Air Act, if applied literally to greenhouse gases, would result in the regulation of every mansion, apartment building, and office complex. That is, it would be a regulatory nightmare. To avoid having to regulate the entire economy, the EPA wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act. Of course, this is legally dubious -- the executive is not allowed to play the role of the legislature.
This administration has been using the EPA as a threat to try and scare the Senate into voting for job killing climate legislation; however, that effort has now failed and they are left with trying to use the EPA to make good on their threats. This is the opening salvo in that war. I believe the dems have vastly overestimated the ability of the EPA to achieve their ends, because the biggest problem is that *everything* the EPA does is going to reduce manufacturing jobs in the affected areas! Imagine how it will play for the Feds to be actively killing jobs while unemployment is still near 10%!!!
The new Congress is not going to be nearly as sympathetic to Ms. Jackson's efforts as this one has been, and they will have a very effective tool -- they don't need to pass anything that could get vetoed, they just need to slash funding for the EPA by 75% and see how long it takes to get their attention. A Republican house may not be strong enough to dictate specific policy changes, but in a deficit obsessed, budget cutting world they can play hell with the EPA's day to day operations.
I think we're about to see a 2 year long civil war in which various parts of the government do everything they can to sabotage and undermine other parts, depending on who controls the respective power centers. Some would say that's been going on for some time already, but those have just been skirmishes - this conflict is about to break wide open. Lord help us all, we're in for one hell of a mess.
(e) And then there's California
It received little coverage, but California's Supreme Court this week upheld Proposition 209, a ballot initiative passed in 1996 that barred racial discrimination -- including discrimination by state and local governments. This will undoubtedly result in many even more creative efforts by the California educational and public contracting officials to thwart the voters' strongly-held beliefs that these programs must stop.
What did receive a great deal of coverage was federal court Judge Vaughan Walker's decision that the Fourteenth Amendment barred as unconstitutional Proposition 8, in which over 7 million California voters expressed their desire that the state constitution be amended to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Regardless of how one feels about same-sex marriage, the opinion was momentous, finding a new constitutional right which for several hundred years has remained hidden to legal scholars.
Newly confirmed Supreme Court Judge Elena Kagan testified under oath that there isn't a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but no one is betting that when the case reaches the Court, as it surely will, she might not have found what eluded her grasp in the confirmation hearings .
To a public furious at the thuggery in Congress, this creative judicial effort further stokes their rage.
(f) Bloomberg's nuts, too.
It isn't only the administration which is struck (intellectually) dumb this week; New York's mayor was stricken as well, offering up ridiculous arguments about religious freedom to support the triumphalist, insulting plan to build a fifteen-story mosque named Cordoba House at the site of the ruins of the World Trade Center destroyed by Islamic fanatics on 9/11. The inimitable Dorothy Rabinowitz pricked such bubbleheads full of liberal pieties.
It's unlikely that the preachments now directed at opponents of the project by Mayor Bloomberg and others will persuade that opposition. Those fighting the building recognize full well the deliberate obtuseness of Mr. Bloomberg's exhortations, and those of Mr. Cuomo and others: the resort to pious battle cries, the claim that antagonists of the plan stand against religious freedom. They note, especially, the refusal to confront the obvious question posed by this proposed center towering over the ruins of 9/11.
It is a question most ordinary Americans, as usual, have no trouble defining. Namely, how is it that the planners, who have presented this effort as a grand design for the advancement of healing and interfaith understanding, have refused all consideration of the impact such a center will have near Ground Zero? Why have they insisted, despite intense resistance, on making the center an assertive presence in this place of haunted memory? It is an insistence that calls to mind the Flying Imams, whose ostentatious prayers -- apparently designed to call attention to themselves on a U.S. Airways flight to Phoenix in November 2006 -- ended in a lawsuit. The imams sued. The airlines paid. [snip]
The center may be built where planned. But it will not go easy or without consequence to the politicians intent on jamming the project down the public throat, in the name of citizens who have come to know pure demagoguery when they hear it. They have had, of late, plenty of practice.
Iowahawk, however, sees a clear problem on the horizon as the liberal pieties of same-sex marriage and kowtowing to Muslim claims for special treatment collide, as they must.
Undocumented Imam's Refusal to Perform Interracial Gay Handicapped Wedding Leads to Charges of Racism
NEW YORK - Charges of racism, sexism, and religious discrimination filled the air this afternoon outside the just-completed Cordoba House, the gleaming new $100 million 15 story mosque and Islamic cultural center near the ruins of New York's World Trade Center, following a tense 5-hour standoff prompted by the mosque's refusal to host a wedding between a lesbian African-American woman and her blind white transgendered partner.
Over 200 NYPD officers and multicultural crisis counselors were bused to the site to quell the simmering 17-way tensions between Muslim, Black, LGBT, immigrant, disabled, and lawsuit community activists. The scene was punctuated by outbursts of pushing and shoving, including a brief confused intramural scuffle among members of Reverend Louis Farrakan's Nation of Islam, but the only serious injuries reported was a hernia suffered by a legal aide distributing plaintiff's briefs. The incident resulted in one arrest, a 7-year old girl who was seen operating a lemonade stand without a permit.
- Clarice Feldman