"The problem with socialism is that you soon run out of other people's money"
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
If Congress can force Americans to buy health insurance, "then there's literally nothing the federal government can't force us to do." Senator Orrin Hatch
NOTE: The House and Senate versions of this legislation are VERY different. When Congress re-convenes in January a Conference Committee will be charged with working out the differences. That report will come back to the respective bodies for an up or down vote, so all hope is not gone on this effort.
November 7, 2009: The final vote on the House bill was 220-215: 219 democrats and one Republican (GOP Rep. Anh (Joseph) Cao of Louisiana) voting YES; 39 Democrats and 176 Republicans voting NO.
December 24, 2009: As I write this I am watching the final vote on this travesty, which, by the way, requires only a simple majority to pass. Quite a sight -- you don't often see most of the senators on the floor at the same time. Well, at 6:16 a.m. central time, the deed was done -- the final vote 60-39 strictly along party lines. (KY Republican Senator Jim Bunning was not present these votes.)
On a side note, Senate Democrats just voted 60-39 to raise the federal debt from $12.1 TRILLION to $12.4 TRILLION.
Once again, kudos to Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker for their leadership and steadfast opposition to this unconstitutional legislation.
Help me out here. If someone offers a legislator something of value to influence their vote, that is called bribery and here in Tennessee some legislators are still in jail for doing just that (remember 'Tennessee Waltz'?) However, if one Senator offers another Senator something of value to influence their vote, and 'the price is right', that is just the way business is done in DC. What's wrong with this picture????
VOTES OF INTEREST:
Ensign Point of Order: GOP Sens. John Ensign (Nev.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) delivered floor speeches Tuesday morning that the bill, in particular its individual mandate the nearly everyone obtain healthcare coverage, violates the Fifth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Ensign then made a constitutional point of order on the floor, forcing a vote that will take place Wednesday."As an American, I felt the obligation to stand up for the individual freedom of every citizen to make their own decision on this issue," Ensign said on the floor. "I don't believe Congress has the legal or moral authority to force this mandate on its citizens." This effort failed 39-60.
Corker Point of Order – Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) offered a point of order that the health bill violated provisions related to the Congressional Budget Act. A motion to waive any violation was adopted by a vote of 55 to 44. A simple majority was needed.
Hutchison Point of Order – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) offered a point of order that the health bill violated the Constitution, specifically the 10th Amendment. It was defeated by a vote of 39 to 60.
DeMint Earmark Amendment – Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) offered a motion to suspend the rules and force a vote on an amendment he wished to offer that would ban the practice of trading earmarks for votes. A motion to table (kill) the motion to suspend was adopted by a vote of 53 to 46.
Final Cloture Motion – Senators adopted a procedural (cloture) motion to limit debate on the underlying bill which now contains the text of the Senate health reform measure, 60 to 39. Sixty votes were needed on this motion.
List of “Sweetheart Deals”Made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to Secure 60 Votes for his Health Care Bill See the list HERE.
The Price Is Right? Payoffs for Senators Typical in Health Care Bill
While Sen. Ben Nelson got a particularly juicy concession -- permanent and full federal aid for his state's expanded Medicaid population -- in the health care bill, support from a slew of other senators likewise came with its price.
Senator Mitch McConnell put it, “This bill is a monstrosity. This is not renaming the post office. Make no mistake — this bill will reshape our nation and our lives.”
Sen. Ben Nelson's hardly the only lawmaker extracting sweetheart deals out of the health care reform bill.
While the Nebraska Democrat got a particularly juicy concession in exchange for a "yes" vote on the 10-year, $871 billion package -- permanent and full federal aid for his state's expanded Medicaid population -- support from a slew of other senators likewise came with a price.
Western states got more money for hospitals that serve Medicare patients. Louisiana got up to $300 million in Medicaid benefits. The list goes on.
Senate Republicans lined up Saturday to decry the latest deal targeted toward Nebraska, which was decried as the "cornhusker kickback."
"Votes have been bought," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said. Read more here.
Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight. First, he noted that there are a number of changes to Senate rules in the bill--and it's supposed to take a 2/3 vote to change the rules. And then he pointed out that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses:
there's one provision that i found particularly troubling and it's under section c, titled "limitations on changes to this subsection."
and i quote -- "it shall not be in order in the senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection."
this is not legislation. it's not law. this is a rule change. it's a pretty big deal. we will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law.
i'm not even sure that it's constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. i don't see why the majority party wouldn't put this in every bill. if you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates.
i mean, we want to bind future congresses. this goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future co congresses. See video and read more HERE.
Jim DeMint to Force a Vote on Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate
The Senate Republicans failed to ever make a fuss about the individual mandate. If I had to guess, it would be because Bob Bennett of Utah, who whispers in Mitch McConnell’s ear more than any other Senator, is a huge proponent of the individual mandate and, as luck would have it, is about to get a Democratic health care bill that looks almost identical to his own Wyden-Bennett compromise plan. As an added bonus, he can vote against it and still see it pass.
Nonetheless, there are serious issues about the constitutionality of the individual mandate. The federal constitution sets forth the limited powers of the federal government and not one of those powers seems to suggest that the Congress of the United States can compel the citizens of the nation to buy certain products.
Jim DeMint and John Ensign are going to force a vote on the issue. Democrats will be forced to take a position on whether or not the federal government can force individuals to buy products on pain of criminal penalty. Read more here.
Top SC prosecutor, others probing health care deal
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The top prosecutors in seven states are probing the constitutionality of a political deal that cut a funding break for Nebraska in order to pass a federal health care reform bill, South Carolina's attorney general said Tuesday.
Attorney General Henry McMaster said he and his counterparts in Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas and Washington state - all Republicans - are jointly taking a look at the deal they've dubbed the "Nebraska compromise."
"The Nebraska compromise, which permanently exempts Nebraska from paying Medicaid costs that Texas and all other 49 states must pay, may violate the United States Constitution - as well as other provisions of federal law," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.
McMaster's move comes at the request of Republican U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
In a letter to McMaster, Graham singled out the deal to win Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson's vote on the massive health care bill the Senate is expected to adopt Thursday. Nelson held out as fellow Democrats worked to get 60 votes to foreclose a GOP filibuster and the bill was amended to shield Nebraska from the expected $45 million annual cost tied to expanding Medicaid programs.
"We have serious concerns about the constitutionality of this Nebraska compromise as it results in special treatment for only one state in the nation at the expense of the other 49," Graham and DeMint wrote.
Nebraska wasn't alone in getting Medicaid breaks. Vermont, Louisiana and Massachusetts also got help with their programs. Read more here.
Senator Roland Burris is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid's "manager's amendment," unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill.
On December 9, Burris, an Illinois Democrat, pledged that he would filibuster a health care bill without a public option. "If we have to get 60 and it comes back and it does not have a public option in it, I will not vote for it," he said. Then early last week he said he could vote for the bill if there were changes made to achieve the goals of the public option: "until this bill addresses cost, competition, and accountability in a meaningful way—it will not win [my vote]."
Asked last night before the Senate voted why he was planning to support a bill without a public option, Burris said: "We have a great bill--the best we could get. And it also covers most of our concerns: competition, cost, and accountability." But had anything specifically changed in the text of the bill that helped him change his mind? Burris told THE WEEKLY STANDARD: "It was the disparity provision that was put in, which we had something to do with, in terms of making sure that diabetes and the other diseases that are affecting minorities are really studied by HHS in all of these pilot programs." Read more here.
Senate Provision Riles the Construction Industry
WASHINGTON -- A last-minute addition to the Senate health-care bill that requires small construction companies to offer health coverage or pay a fine touched off a battle Tuesday with some industry groups demanding its removal.
The change, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.), says construction companies should offer coverage if they have five or more employees and a payroll of $250,000 or more, or face fines of up to $750 per employee per year if the employees receive tax credits. The threshold for other types of companies is 50.
A worker in California installs a sprinkler system in October.
Construction-related industries say it is unfair to single them out, as the recession has hit them particularly hard. Recent data show that unemployment in construction is 19.4%, nearly twice the national average of 10%.
Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, said he had heard conversations about the proposal but was assured it wouldn't make it into the bill.
"I think that a great many Democratic senators were taken as much by surprise at the inclusion of this provision as we were," he said.
The Senate has closed the door on amendments to the bill, so if it passes, the last chance to change the construction-industry provision would be in House-Senate conference negotiations. Read more here.
Rep. Stupak: White House Pressuring Me to Keep Quiet on Abortion Language in Senate Health Bill
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor
(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives have been pressuring him not to speak out on the "compromise" abortion language in the Senate version of the health care bill.
“They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language,” Stupak told CNSNews.com in an interview on Tuesday. “Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.”
The Michigan Democrat succeeded last month in getting 64 House Democrats to join him in attaching his pro-life amendment to the House version of the health-care bill. The “Stupak amendment,” as the provision is known, would prohibit the federal government from allocating taxpayer money to pay for any part of any health insurance plan that covers abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. Read more here.
Sen. Feinstein 'Assumes' Commerce Clause Gives Congress Unlimited Authority to Mandate Health Insurance
CNSNews.com) – Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that Congress has the authority to mandate that people buy health insurance and that there is no constitutional limit on Congress’ power to enact such mandates, adding that this unlimited authority stemmed from the Commerce clause of the Constitution.
The health care bills in both the House and Senate require that every American purchase a health insurance policy. At the Capitol on Tuesday, CNSNews.com asked Sen. Feinstein: “Where in the Constitution does Congress get the authority for an individual health insurance mandate?” Read more here.
With Obamacare, you get the good, the bad, and the ugly -- except for the first part.
The Congressional Budget Office's score is in for the final Senate health bill, and it's amazing how little Americans would get for so much.
The Democrats are irresponsibly and disingenuously claiming that the bill would cost $871 billion over 10 years. But that's not what the CBO says. Rather, the CBO says that $871 billion would be the costs from 2010 to 2019 for expansions in insurance coverage alone. But less than 2 percent of those "10-year costs" would kick in before the fifth year of that span. In its real first 10 years (2014 to 2023), the CBO says that the bill would cost $1.8 trillion -- for insurance coverage expansions alone. Other parts of the bill would cost approximately $700 billion more, bringing the bill's full 10-year tab to approximately $2.5 trillion -- according to the CBO.
In those real first 10 years (2014 to 2023), Americans would have to pay over $1 trillion in additional taxes, over $1 trillion would be siphoned out of Medicare (over $200 billion out of Medicare Advantage alone) and spent on Obamacare, and deficits would rise by over $200 billion. They would rise, that is, unless Congress follows through on the bill's pledge to cut doctors' payments under Medicare by 21 percent next year and never raise them back up -- which would reduce doctors' enthusiasm for seeing Medicare patients dramatically. Read more here.
Budget Office Rebuts Democratic Claims on Medicare
Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The Congressional Budget Office challenged claims by health-care overhaul proponents that Medicare savings in Senate legislation would help finance expanded coverage and postpone the bankruptcy of the medical program for the elderly.
The nonpartisan agency said the $246 billion it projected the legislation would save Medicare can’t both finance new programs and help pay future expenses for elderly covered under the federal program.
Nor could those savings be used to extend the solvency of Medicare, set to run out of money in 2017, the budget office said in a letter to Senate Republicans.
“What we’ve seen is a colossal manipulation” by Democrats “of the accounting scores of CBO” and the independent actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the Republican who requested the analysis from CBO. He called the letter “a potential game-changer.”
The estimated Medicare savings in the legislation overstate “the improvement in the government’s fiscal position,” the CBO said in the letter.
Read more here.
Obama Lap Dogs To The Very End
Facts on the Cost of Health Insurance and Health Care
By several measures, health care spending continues to rise at a rapid rate and forcing businesses and families to cut back on operations and household expenses respectively.
In 2008, total national health expenditures were expected to rise 6.9 percent -- two times the rate of inflation.1 Total spending was $2.4 TRILLION in 2007, or $7900 per person1. Total health care spending represented 17 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
U.S. health care spending is expected to increase at similar levels for the next decade reaching $4.3 TRILLION in 2017, or 20 percent of GDP.1
In 2008, employer health insurance premiums increased by 5.0 percent – two times the rate of inflation. The annual premium for an employer health plan covering a family of four averaged nearly $12,700. The annual premium for single coverage averaged over $4,700.2
Experts agree that our health care system is riddled with inefficiencies, excessive administrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management, and inappropriate care, waste and fraud. These problems significantly increase the cost of medical care and health insurance for employers and workers and affect the security of families.
National Health Care Spending
- In 2008, health care spending in the United States reached $2.4 trillion, and was projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2012.1 Health care spending is projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2016.1
- Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.3
- In 2008, the United States will spend 17 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent by 2017.1
- Although nearly 46 million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.3
- Health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.4
1. Medicare is already the program that ate the government, scheduled to go into bankruptcy itself in 2019. As the trustees report put it, "while Medicare's annual costs were 3.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008, or about three quarters of Social Security's, they are projected to surpass Social Security expenditures in 2028 and reach 11.4 percent of GDP in 2083."
2. A draft of the bill that was floated late last week would require individuals to obtain health insurance and mandate that employers provide their workers benefits or face financial penalties.
3. Canada's provincial governments themselves rely on American medicine. Between 2006 and 2008, Ontario sent more than 160 patients to New York and Michigan for emergency neurosurgery -- described by the Globe and Mail newspaper as "broken necks, burst aneurysms and other types of bleeding in or around the brain."
4. ...financing Obama's plan to spread coverage more widely carries a price tag estimated at higher than $1 trillion over a decade. House Democrats are considering cutting projected Medicare payments to home health care, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, hospitals and others to cover costs.
5. Obama OMB Director Peter Orszag was more clear and direct in explaining the policy recently, saying, "Future increases in spending could be moderated if costly new medical services were adopted more selectively in the future than they have been in the past, and if the diffusion of existing costly services was slowed."
6. The federal deficit is on pace to explode past $1.8 trillion this year, more than four times last year's all-time high. The record borrowing is credited with pushing up interest rates, which could imperil chances for a recovery later in the year.
7. In Canada, 27 percent of the people who have surgery wait four months or more. In Britain, 38 percent wait that long. But only 5 percent of Americans wait that long for surgery.
The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen's Guide
By: Sally C. Pipes
SAN FRANCISCO - The Pacific Research Institute has just released The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen's Guide. This is the latest book from health care scholar, and PRI President and CEO Sally C. Pipes.
The book's foreword is by Steve Forbes: "For anyone interested in getting to the core of America's health care troubles, this is the perfect book," he writes. "And for health care policy makers, it should be required reading."
In her 182-page book, Ms. Pipes takes on ten popular myths about the state of health care in America. The final chapter lays out several patient-centered prescriptions for reform.
"I wrote this short book as a citizen's guide. Each chapter tackles a complex issue in straight-forward, easy-to-understand language," said Ms. Pipes.
The book challenges the conventional belief that only government can fix our health care system. In fact, says Ms. Pipes, "government overreach has put the system in a state of crisis."
A complete list of chapters can be found below.
In her conclusion, Ms. Pipes offers some ways to fix the country's biggest health care problems. "If we want to bring costs down and extend coverage to more Americans, we have to open the health care marketplace to competition -- by abolishing costly government regulations and reforming the tax code to make insurance more affordable."
"We can solve the health care problems that plague the United States," concluded Ms. Pipes. "But we won't solve them if we continue to believe the many myths that plague the health care debate."
List of Chapters
Foreword by Steve Forbes
Myth One: Government Health Care Is More Efficient
Myth Two: We're Spending Too Much on Health Care
Myth Three: Forty-Six Million Americans Can't Get Health Care
Myth Four: High Drug Prices Drive Up Health Care Costs
Myth Five: Importing Drugs Would Reduce Health Care Costs
Myth Six: Universal Coverage Can Be Achieved by Forcing Everyone to Buy Insurance
Myth Seven: Government Prevention Programs Reduce Health Care Costs
Myth Eight: We Need More Government to Insure Poor Americans
Myth Nine: Health Information Technology Is a Silver Bullet for Reducing Costs
Myth Ten: Government-Run Health Care Systems in Other Countries are Better and Cheaper than America's
Solutions: Markets, Consumer Choice, and Innovation
The full PDF of the above book, " The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen's Guide" is available on line * FOR FREE * here:
Internet Source HERE