COMMENT: I had intended to let yesterday's post be the last until next week, but like the fire horse who would start to run when the alarm sounded, the truth is I must........ 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.
[Links to both votes have not yet been posted, however, they were strictly along party lines.]
How's that 'hope and change' working for us????
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????
As I understand it the House will re-convene January 12, the Senate on January 19th. Do remember that this battle is not over. The next step: The House and Senate versions are VERY different and have to be reconciled. Whatever comes out of the Conference Committee, which could be ANYTHING, that product goes back to the respective bodies for an up or down vote. So...stayed tuned!!
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.
Reid Bill Says Future Congresses Cannot Repeal Parts of Reid Bill
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.
Exclusive: ACORN Qualifies for Funding in Senate Health Care Bill
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.
CBO: Real 10-Year Cost of Senate Bill Still $2.5 Trillion
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.
U.S. sees homegrown Muslim extremism as rising threat
COMMENT: Just more evidence that we much so everything we can to educate ourselves and others to the threat within our borders.
To view ACT for American's video conference on Radical Islam’s Threat to America, click HERE. To call for Formal Investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), go HERE to sign petition.
U.S. sees homegrown Muslim extremism as rising threat
This may have been the most dangerous year since 9/11, anti-terrorism experts say.
Reporting from Washington - The Obama administration, grappling with a spate of recent Islamic terrorism cases on U.S. soil, has concluded that the country confronts a rising threat from homegrown extremism.
Anti-terrorism officials and experts see signs of accelerated radicalization among American Muslims, driven by a wave of English-language online propaganda and reflected in aspiring fighters' trips to hot spots such as Pakistan and Somalia.
Europe had been the front line, the target of successive attacks and major plots, while the U.S. remained relatively calm. But the number, variety and scale of recent U.S. cases suggest 2009 has been the most dangerous year domestically since 2001, anti-terrorism experts said:
* There were major arrests of Americans accused of plotting with Al Qaeda and its allies, including an Afghan American charged in a New York bomb plot described as the most serious threat in this country since the Sept. 11 attacks.
* Authorities tracked other extremism suspects joining foreign networks, including Somali Americans going to the battlegrounds of their ancestral homeland and an Albanian American from Brooklyn who was arrested in Kosovo.
* The FBI rounded up homegrown terrorism suspects in Dallas, Detroit and Raleigh, N.C., saying that it had broken up plots targeting a synagogue, government buildings and military facilities.
Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued her strongest public comments yet on the homegrown threat.
"We've seen an increased number of arrests here in the U.S. of individuals suspected of plotting terrorist attacks, or supporting terror groups abroad such as Al Qaeda," Napolitano said in a speech in New York. "Home-based terrorism is here. And, like violent extremism abroad, it will be part of the threat picture that we must now confront."
Officials acknowledged that her tone had changed, though they said terrorism has been her focus since becoming Homeland Security chief.
In some of the 2009 cases, extremist leanings are suspected but motives are not known.
Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan -- accused of killing 13 people in a Ft. Hood, Texas, shooting rampage last month -- has apparently suffered emotional problems. But in interviews, officials and experts have also raised his Muslim beliefs as an alleged motive.
A previous attack on the U.S. military, a shooting in June by an American convert who killed a soldier and wounded another at an Arkansas recruiting center, was apparently a case of a lone wolf radicalized in Yemen, according to Homeland Security officials.
"You are seeing the full spectrum of the threats you face in terrorism," former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.
"Radicalization is clearly happening in the U.S.," said Mitchell Silber, director of analysis for the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department. "In years past, you couldn't say that about the U.S. You could say it about Europe."
Europe has suffered a militant onslaught: transport bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005, an assassination in the Netherlands in 2004, and close calls such as the fiery failed attack on the Glasgow airport in 2007.
Hard borders have helped the U.S. ward off the threat. But experts also said that Islamic radicalization is more widespread in Europe. Crime, alienation and extremism roil Muslim immigrant communities in places like tiny Denmark and the vast slums of France.
In contrast, American Muslims are wealthier, better educated and better integrated because the United States does a good job of absorbing immigrants and fostering tolerance, experts said. During the last decade, Americans have been a rare presence in the Al Qaeda-connected camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan that have trained hundreds of Westerners and thousands of recruits from Muslim-majority nations. Read more here.
Americans Arrested in Pakistan; FBI Probing
Five men who recently went missing from around the nation's capital were arrested Tuesday during a raid in Pakistan, according to an official with the Pakistani embassy in Washington.
The official said that the men, all U.S. citizens, are being held by Pakistani police while authorities look into possible links to extremist groups.
The FBI recently launched an investigation into the five young men after their families and the Council on American-Islamic Relations notified the FBI of the disappearances, according to CAIR.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, CAIR officials said the men had left behind an 11-minute video, which the officials said "disturbed" them and misinterpreted verses of the Koran.
At least one of the missing men can be seen in the video, according to the CAIR officials.
U.S. authorities believe the men, 19 to 25 years old, went to Pakistan to join a terrorist group, one U.S. official said.
Hours after FOX News reported on the FBI investigation Tuesday night, Pakistani sources disclosed that five people had been arrested during an anti-terror raid on a house in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
One of those arrested is of Egyptian descent, another is of Yemeni descent, and the others are of Pakistani descent, the Pakistani official in Washington said. Read more here.
COMMENT: This is one of the best articles I have read on the agenda we see before us every day in Washington DC and deserves a thorough reading. Looking back at what has happened since the Obama Administration took office in January, a visual image comes to mind. Imagine standing on a tennis court with your racket. Across the net you face twelve players hitting the tennis balls at you as fast as they can. Even if you are very good, you will only be able to return a few of the balls -- many will get by you. In addition, you will quickly be exhausted and feel like giving up because there is no way you can 'win'.
I think this Administration understands that it has a limited window of opportunity (hopefully a window that can be partially closed in 2010) and they want to maximize it in every way by pushing every bad, liberal piece of legislation they have always wanted to force on the American people.
It does get tiring and frustrating -- we can hardly get our breath. However, this just underscores the importance of staying engaged and continuing to make our voices heard. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9) has never been more important.
It is time to cast aside all remaining doubt. President Obama is not trying to lead America forward to recovery, prosperity and strength. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The methodology is known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and we can all be grateful to David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks for originally exposing and explaining it to us. He describes it as:
The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.
Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven were two lifelong members of Democratic Socialists of America who taught sociology at Columbia University (Piven later went on to City University of New York). In a May 1966 Nation magazine article titled "The Weight of the Poor," they outlined their strategy, proposing to use grassroots radical organizations to push ever more strident demands for public services at all levels of government.
The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces ... for major economic reform at the national level."
They implemented the strategy by creating a succession of radical organizations, most notable among them the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), with the help of veteran organizer Wade Rathke. Their crowning achievement was the "Motor Voter" act, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993 with Cloward and Piven standing behind him.
As we now know, ACORN was one of the chief drivers of high-risk mortgage lending that eventually led to the financial crisis. But the Motor Voter law was another component of the strategy. It created vast vulnerabilities in our electoral system, which ACORN then exploited.
ACORN's vote registration scandals throughout the U.S. are predictable fallout.
The Motor Voter law has also been used to open another vulnerability in the system: the registration of vast numbers of illegal aliens, who then reliably vote Democrat. Herein lies the real reason Democrats are so anxious for open borders, security be damned.
It should be clear to anyone with a mind and two eyes that this president and this Congress do not have our interests at heart. They are implementing this strategy on an unprecedented scale by flooding America with a tidal wave of poisonous initiatives, orders, regulations, and laws. As Rahm Emmanuel said, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."
The real goal of "health care" legislation, the real goal of "cap-and-trade," and the real goal of the "stimulus" is to rip the guts out of our private economy and transfer wide swaths of it over to the government to control. Do not be deluded by the propaganda. These initiatives are vehicles for change. They are not goals in and of themselves except in their ability to deliver power. They and will make matters much worse, for that is their design.
This time, in addition to overwhelming the government with demands for services, Obama and the Democrats are overwhelming political opposition to their plans with a flood of apocalyptic legislation. Their ultimate goal is to leave us so discouraged, demoralized, and exhausted that we throw our hands up in defeat. As Barney Frank said, "the middle class will be too distracted to fight."Read more here.