Sunday, April 4, 2010

Repeal of Intelligence

There are those for and those against the recently passed healthcare reform bill (HCR). That would be true of any legislation of course, but what makes this time so . . . interesting is that the side that lost is in the midst of a PR campaign that is virtually pointless in real terms. Well two prongs of the same campaign. First is the battle cry, which began before the final House vote when it was clear that HCR would pass, to "Repeal and Replace" the bill. Second, which started shortly after the final vote, that the law was unconstitutional and State Attorneys General would sue the Federal Government to overturn it.

As to the first prong of the Republican response to HCR passage, you have got to be kidding me. It doesn't take a constitutional scholar, in fact most eighth graders are up to the task, to realize that it takes two thirds majorities in BOTH houses of Congress to override the inevitable Presidential veto. Keeping in mind that Republicans don't even have close to a simple majority, much less two thirds. Even if you accept the assumption that Republicans may gain seats in the mid term elections, it would take a truly historic turnover to give them veto proof majorities. How historic? They would need a net gain of 26 seats in the 100 member Senate and 112 seats in the House. If the vote was held today, that would still be almost impossible. By the time November rolls around and HCR is starting to take affect kids will no longer be subject to insurance rejection from "pre-existing conditions", Medicare recipients will have gotten drug benefit refund checks and not one person will have been sentenced to die by a "Death Panel". They may gain some seats, but I don't think they're likely to gain the majority in either House much less the landslides needed to "Repeal & Replace".

Then we have the litigation angle. I think we are now up to 13 states who are filing lawsuits or have filed them against the Federal government. Again I'm no law expert, but seems telling that only 13 Republican Attorneys General are going in on this. Even some lawyers who say they don't support the bill are admitting that there really isn't a legal case for scrapping the law. In fact, when the University of Washington tried to put together a debate between legal experts on the legality of HCR, they couldn't find anyone to champion the unconstitutionality of the bill. And in another wild dust-up in Georgia, we have a State legislature and Governor talking about impeaching the GA Attorney General for not joining the madness. Attorney General Thurbert Baker, after investigating the legality of such a suit at the Governor's request, wrote the Governor to say:

"Based upon my understanding of the current Act, I am unaware of any constitutional infirmities and do not think it would be prudent, legally or fiscally, to pursue such litigation. I must therefore respectfully decline your request." He continued, "In short, this litigation is likely to fail and will consume significant amounts of taxpayers' hard-earned money in the process." (The full letter is available here

Speaking of tax payer's money, the Attorney General of Virginia, Kenneth Cuccinelli, actually put out a statement in response to cost concerns for his litigation against the HCR bill:

"The court filing fee for the case of Commonwealth v. Kathleen Sebelius in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia was $350.  There has been no additional cost above this amount, as the litigation is being handled entirely by the attorney general’s staff." (Full press release here)

The $350 is simply the charge for filing the paperwork with the court. Really, that's it? So I take it that the entire AG staff has agreed to do all work on this case on their own time and using none of the AG office's resources? Is that what he's claiming? Because if not, then, forgive my directness but, he's lying. Every moment one of the AG staff spends on this useless piece of litigation is time they are being paid by the VA taxpayers and time they are not working on other business. Every piece of paper used or Kilobyte of data sent while online is using AG resources that are paid for by the VA taxpayers. That adds up to way more that $350, even just for the initial filing.

Now are these guys really too stupid to know that all this is pointless? Of course not. They are well aware that they have a snowball's chance in hell of repealing this law as long as Obama sits in the Oval Office. They are also well aware that litigation is almost certainly a waste of time as well. So why are they wasting time and money on it? Actually I just answered my own question, at least in part. Money. There is a nice bit of anger still frothing out there and every riled up citizen is a potential source of campaign cash. The longer they can keep that outrage humming along, the more cash they can raise. Guess this is their idea of 'fiscal conservatism'. Spend thousands and thousands of dollars of our money so the GOP can make theirs. Guess they have to refill the RNC coffers emptied for 'Office Supplies' from Congressional Liquors and 'Entertainment Expenses' at the Voyeur erotic nightclub in CA. Not to mention the Hawaii based convention. Now that's what I call fiscally responsible!

I think what most amazes me about all of this is that the conservative base doesn't seem to care. They are lied to and they are unfazed. They are callously used to  perpetuate misinformation and disrupt any rational discussion of the issues at hand and they keep smiling and waving signs. Conservative corporations and political action committees hijack their demonstrations and they don't mind. The same politicians who voted consistently to enact huge unpaid for tax cuts during the Bush years are now billing themselves as the last bastions of fiscal restraint, yet their supporters don't care. I can fully understand policy concerns and differences. I can understand frustration at the current Administration. What I can't fathom is how so many are willfully blind to the utter lack of respect they receive from the conservative luminaries they support. The rational conservative base should demand more than what they are getting from people like John Boehner and Michelle Bachman who only exist to perpetuate themselves and their friends, whatever the cost to the nation.

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