2009 Downsize DC Year-End
Health care and other areas to carry on the fight
This series of Downsize DC columns winds up the year 2009; as you know, the main focus of DDC is to require Congress to actually read the bills it passes into laws, so that it actually knows what it is inflicting on the citizenry.
Mostly the concern is with the Health Care bill that got through the Senate, but still requires a conference to hammer out the final takeover. What I'm reading is that the Dems are excreting frisbies worrying about what the voters back home are going to do if they continue to support expensive government programs that force them to do stuff.
Even if the Senate passes a bill this week there are still miles to go ...
The Senate and House bills will still need to be reconciled, and pass both chambers -- that may be difficult A bill that's passed can still be repealed, and this one will be particularly vulnerable to that possibility because... It will take years for all aspects of the bill to be implemented, and meanwhile... An election will intervene that could cost the Democrats a lot of seats.
It's important to recognize that many Congressional Democrats...
Are worried about losing their jobs because of this vote Don't like this bill because it doesn't actually do any of things that were promised for this legislation
Former Democratic National Committee Chair, Howard Dean, has suggested that this healthcare reform bill should be killed, and that his allies should go back to the drawing board. Why? Because the healthcare reform bill doesn't go far enough. (!!!)
You can copy or borrow from what I wrote to my Congressional delegation:
I feel like the goal post has shifted on the healthcare bill. It doesn't actually fulfill the original promises.
That's what the Bush administration did with Iraq. Weapons of Mass Destruction meant the United States could not wait -- we had to attack. When no such weapons were found, the mission morphed from one objective to another. The same thing is happening with healthcare reform. We were promised . . .
Howard Dean suggested you kill this bill and return to the drawing board. Based on the costs to my family and my neighbors, I must agree -- you haven't delivered.
I don't want you to speak of the other so-called "benefits" of this plan. When you do so, you're just moving the goal posts, like George W. Bush did in Iraq. The mission was to cover the uninsured, and do so without increasing taxes or costs for the middle class.
The Enumerated Powers Act (EPA) requires that every bill must specify its source of Constitutional authority. This would prove very embarrassing to Congress, because there is no Constitutional authority for most of what they pass.
Two more House members have cosponsored EPA over the past month, bringing the total to 56. Sadly, the Senate is still stuck at 22 co-sponsors. You can find...
Congress asserts it can compel Americans to purchase health insurance because NOT purchasing health insurance impacts interstate commerce.
But for decades Congress has allowed states to bar their residents from purchasing health insurance from another state.
Which means Congress never previously believed that the purchase (or non-purchase) of health insurance was interstate commerce.
The decision to NOT purchase a good or service is NOT commerce, let alone interstate commerce.
But under the absurd logic of this bill, if I choose to take a nap rather than go to a movie, I'm engaging in "commerce" and Congress can compel me to either go to the movie or pay a tax penalty.
In any case, the Commerce Clause is limited by other provisions in the Constitution, such as the Ninth Amendment. As Foldvary states, "the Ninth Amendment recognizes there are moral and common-law rights that exist prior to and apart from the U.S. Constitution." An individual who chooses to NOT purchase health insurance is NOT harming others. He may be making a rational estimate that the costs of insurance will be larger than the cost of the care he will expect to receive. Whether we agree with his assessment or not, he certainly has a right to control his own body and money. His decision to not purchase insurance does not constitute a violation of anyone else's rights. Forcing him to purchase a service he does not want, however, is a clear violation of his rights.
Moreover, the tax penalty in the bill is unconstitutional. As Levy and Cannon state, it is not an income tax or an excise tax, but "is a fixed amount based on family size. That means it's levied per person and therefore a 'direct tax' under the Constitution, which requires that such taxes be apportioned among the states according to their population, as determined by the census."
And Levy and Cannon conclude, "Congress' attempt to punish a non-act that harms no one is an intolerable affront to the Constitution, liberty, and personal autonomy. That shameful fact cannot be altered by calling it health-care reform."
Any judge or informed citizen should find the reasoning of Section 1501 laughable. That's the very reason I'm glad it's in the healthcare bill. Please oppose the unconscionable and unconstitutional healthcare bill. And then please pass the Enumerated Powers Act and force Congress to try to justify other unconstitutional bills.
In the waning hours of 2009 Congress rushed to bundle unrelated bills that they then passed with little consideration or debate. They were so busy with the cancerous healthcare bill that they couldn't be bothered to behave responsibly. DownsizeDC.org's "One Subject at a Time Act" would have prevented this.
Congress's irresponsible behavior in the closing days of 2009 is a perfect example of why we need the One Subject at a Time Act. The obsession with passing a healthcare bill by Christmas was pointless and counterproductive, because . . .
reconciling the Senate bill with the House bill and getting it signed into law wasn't going to happen until 2010 anyway
other items were more urgent, because the federal government still needed to be funded for 2010 and several laws and programs were facing expiration dates
The obsession with healthcare caused Congress to neglect other bills until the last minute. This means you guys didn't give these bills the time and consideration they deserved. Instead, Congressional leaders combined unrelated bills together and then hastily passed them. An example of this is the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3326), which included theoretically "urgent" non-Defense items such as:
Additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Extension of Patriot Act expiration dates to February 28
Extension of unemployment and COBRA health insurance benefits
It also included non-urgent items such as:
Compensation to Swain County, NC for the federal government's broken promise to re-build a road it had destroyed
An Apology to the Native American Peoples
None of the above provisions were in the House version of H.R. 3326 that passed in July, and none except the Apology was included in the Senate version that passed in October. These additional provisions were included very late in the process.
Each deserved to have been considered and debated as a separate bill. You guys essentially passed all of this stuff blindfolded, without having much of a clue about what you were doing.
But Congress didn't have the time to consider them separately, because it was so focused on healthcare.
Dozens of times a year, Congress wastes time passing unimportant bills that do things like naming some obscure post office after a deceased person. And then, because you don't use time wisely, you combine unrelated but expensive and important bills - such as Defense spending and COBRA insurance - into one bill, with little time for debate or deliberation.
This is insulting to me as a citizen, and makes a mockery of the whole idea of representative government.
The One Subject At A Time Act would have . . .
delayed consideration of the healthcare bill, so that it wouldn't have been rushed;
given more urgent bills due consideration
prevented the bundling of unrelated bills into one monstrous package
Republican opponents of this process should introduce OSTA. And Democrats, if they want to keep their jobs, should redeem themselves and sponsor OSTA as well.