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Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Hollow Victory for Obamacare

Senator Mike Lee
The mandate must now be seen as a tax hike.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But I believe it will ultimately prove to be a hollow and short-lived victory for the health-care law.

The Supreme Court was able to find the individual mandate constitutional only through a series of extraordinary logical gymnastics, the conclusion of which was that the mandate is actually a tax. But, of course, members of Congress did not vote to pass the ACA as a tax. Nor did the American people understand it to be a tax. Indeed, President Obama himself flatly stated that the individual mandate “is absolutely not a tax increase” — that “nobody” considers it a tax.

As Justice Kennedy noted in his dissent, “imposing a tax through judicial legislation inverts the constitutional scheme, and places the power to tax in the branch of government least accountable to the citizenry.” There is simply no way that the ACA would have become law had the American public and their representatives understood the mandate as a tax.

As a result, I believe the practical effect of the decision will be short-lived. As numerous public-opinion polls confirm, the majority of citizens already oppose the individual mandate. As more Americans come to understand the individual mandate as a middle-class tax hike, it will only become more unpopular. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, at least 75 percent of the penalties or “taxes” imposed by the individual mandate will fall on Americans who make less than $250,000. In making choices at the ballot box this November, I believe, the American people simply will not stand for the ACA to remain the law of the land.

Today’s decision may ultimately be regarded less as a victory for the Affordable Care Act and instead as an important recognition and validation of the freedoms protected by our constitutional structure. The Court’s decision today upheld the individual mandate as a tax, but it also validated fundamental principles of limited government and federalism.

A majority of the justices rightfully concluded that Congress had exceeded its regulatory authority under the Commerce Clause by attempting to impose the individual mandate as a government directive. As Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion explained, “The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. . . . Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. . . . That is not the country the Framers of our Constitution envisioned.”

In so holding, the majority opinion expressly embraced the limiting implications of the distinction between activity and inactivity, put forward by critics of the ACA. The Court noted that, although its Commerce Clause jurisprudence throughout much of the last century had been notoriously expansive, even at its most expansive (such as in cases like Wickard v. Filburn), it had always limited Congress to regulating preexisting activity. The ACA, by contrast, tried to regulate inactivity. The Court refused to countenance such limitless congressional power.

America Fades, the World Gets Darker

American Thinker
The Supreme Court's outrageous activism in reframing the government's defense of ObamaCare in order to save it dimmed a little further the flame that has long stood as the world's only original source of illumination. While the loudest voices from around the world will hail this decision as evidence that America is finally becoming "reasonable," some of us from abroad see America's fall as the death of hope, though masquerading as mere "change."

The Eurosocialists, along with their spiritual progeny from Canada to Australia, have long since relinquished their dignity in favor of the protective chains of a "freedom" divorced from property rights. Hence, they will greet this latest blow to American "capitalism" as they greet all the others -- with the holier-than-thou pomposity of a snotty adolescent who refuses to admit that his very survival depends on the grown-ups he is mocking.

In other words, they will continue to see America through the prism of the entitlement mentality that is felling their own nations like dominoes, just as it destroys America herself from within.

The Asian nations, without a longstanding intellectual heritage of individualism and property rights, will witness America's fall with less glee than post-Marxist Europe, but without perceiving its real historical significance. The Latin American communists will think what communists think. The African nations, focused on hand-to-mouth survival and hand-to-hand combat, will not even notice what has just happened to them, as to all of us.

In all of these places, however, there is a minority of us who understand what America's unraveling means, because we have always understood that our own nations were surviving, and sometimes thriving, in the reflected light emanating from the United States. We have always known that America's fate would be ours, and that if America's light faded, it would be the whole world that would go dark.

Obamacare Is Not Constitutional

Senator Rand Paul
The American people can correct the Supreme Court’s mistake.

Political observers have described the 2010 Tea Party wave as an extraordinary assemblage of liberty-minded Americans who rallied around the Constitution in order to reclaim their country. One of the galvanizing forces was the passage of Obamacare — the national government’s takeover of our health care. Millions of Americans were enraged by this and other aspects of the Obama administration’s destructive political agenda, and they were sick and tired of their representatives’ failure to do anything to stop it. The 2010 wave election was a direct consequence of Obama’s unconstitutional ideals and czar-like power. And now, with the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare, it is my belief that the American people will be motivated to reorder our political priorities as they did in 2010.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate in a 5–4 decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts. The Supreme Court wrongly concluded that Obamacare can stand. But just because a majority of the Supreme Court declares something to be “constitutional” does not make it so. Millions of Americans simply won’t accept it and will act to help overhaul it.

Make no mistake: Obamacare is not constitutional. As a consequence of the Court’s ruling, Americans, whether they want it or not, will be compelled to purchase a product — health insurance — or pay a penalty.

The majority held that this penalty, for constitutional purposes, is also a tax. The dissenting justices concluded that the majority, by its actions today, rewrote what Congress actually intended when it enacted the law: “For all these reasons, to say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it. Judicial tax-writing is particularly troubling.” The dissent then immediately cites the Stamp Act of 1765.

The Stamp Act was a direct tax imposed on the colonies by King George III. This act inevitably led to the American Revolution. Just as the Stamp Act did in 1765, Obamacare should act as a wake-up call. Chief Justice Roberts provides us with a similar call to action in his opinion, which states:

Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.

Obamacare exists because Obama is in the White House. This decision is a direct consequence of the American people’s political decisions. And much like Obama himself, Obamacare was deceptively sold to the American people.

Senator Jim DeMint's Rallying Cry to Repeal Obamacare

YouTube description: DeMint's speech, which Heritage excerpted for this short video, came just two hours after the ruling shocked and disappointed many conservatives. After all, tea-party activists swept a group of freshmen lawmakers into the halls of Congress last year and their vote to repeal Obamacare was a major triumph. Equally disappointing for many was the court's decision.

"We all knew when Obamacare passed that the urgent priority had to be the repeal of that bill and the replacing of the people who imposed it on the American people. That is still the priority today," DeMint said at Heritage.


Supreme Court health care ruling reaffirmed limits to Congress’s authority

It's quite obvious lawyers do not agree. Mark Levin has come to the opposite conclusion concerning the Commerce Clause and the ObamaCare decision. Since I am not a lawyer, I have no idea which one is right. Ken Cuccinelli or Mark Levin? - Reggie

Ken Cuccinelli
Like most Americans, I was disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to saddle this country with a budget-busting federal health care law that thrusts new taxes on the American people and will most assuredly increase health care costs. Virginia’s legal argument had always been that there was no constitutional basis for the health insurance mandate, and because the mandate was central to the whole scheme, the law should be struck down in its entirety.

But after analyzing the 193 pages of opinions from the court, I contend that – while I do not agree with the ultimate result – there was a silver lining for those who believe in the principles of limited government. For the first time since 1942, the Supreme Court held that even when Congress is otherwise attempting to regulate commerce, there are enforceable limits to the Commerce Clause power. And for the first time since the New Deal, the court has found a limit on Congress’s spending power – a power many thought was virtually unlimited under the Constitution.

From the beginning of Virginia’s challenge, I maintained that the health care cases were about liberty, not about health care. We argued that the Constitution did not permit Congress – under the guise of regulating commerce – to order a citizen to buy something. A majority of the court agreed with our position. Writing for a majority, Chief Justice Roberts recognized that

“The Framers gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it, and for over 200 years, both our decisions and Congress’s actions have reflected this understanding. There is no reason to depart from that understanding now.” [Emphasis in the original.]

In its decision, the court affirmed that the Commerce Clause only allows Congress to regulate people who are currently engaged in commercial activity. It does not reach those who are not engaged in commerce, even if those very same people are likely to engage in commerce in the future.

In this way, the court affirmed that there ARE constitutional limits to Congress’s commerce power and explicitly adopted the activity/inactivity distinction that opponents of the law had championed and that liberal commentators had ridiculed.

Read the full column

What’s Next for Attorney General Eric Holder?

Congress held Attorney General Eric Holder in both civil and criminal contempt yesterday, in historic bipartisan votes, for his refusal to provide subpoenaed documents in the Fast and Furious investigation.  This has never happened before. So what happens next?

The first consequence will be that the last media outlets trying to protect the Obama Administration by refusing to report on the worst scandal in Justice Department history will be obliged to mention it, in considerably more detail than they would like. They’ll try to bury the details as much as possible, and they will still absurdly describe Fast and Furious as a “botched sting operation,” but they’ll have to explain why Congress wants those documents, and how long they’ve been waiting.

(For the benefit of those still working to catch up with the well-informed conservative blogosphere on this story, Fast and Furious was not a “sting operation.” In a sting operation, law enforcement makes a serious effort to arrest the purchasers of the illegal merchandise they have dangled as bait. Absolutely zero effort was made to do this in Operation Fast and Furious. The only reason some of the weapons have been recovered is that they’re turning up at crime scenes… not all of them in Mexico.)

Thus, there will be some political fallout from the contempt vote – even though it was, somewhat oddly, held in the shadow of the Supreme Court’s ObamaCare decision. Public awareness of this story will grow, and that’s deadly, as everyone trying to ignore it understands. Far less serious issues have become fatal to Washington careers due to saturation media coverage.

But what will become of Eric Holder? Well, his citation for criminal contempt will be turned over to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen. The U.S. Attorney has considerable discretion over how he wants to proceed. Technically he has a duty to convene a grand jury, but legal scholars are debating whether this would be “mandatory.” Prosecutors are members of the executive branch, and we all know this particular executive branch doesn’t have much respect for the powers and privileges of the other two.

Absence of Accountability for the 2008 Financial Crisis

Gretchen Morgenson is the co-author of Reckless Endangerment which delves into the 2008 financial crisis. Her book reveals all and names names. The New York Times reviewed the book here. - Reggie


Friday, June 29, 2012

Ed Meese on Obamacare Ruling: ‘The People Will Rise Up’

(CNSNews.com) – Former Attorney General Ed Meese said Friday the “people will rise up” because the Supreme Court upheld the health-care law’s individual mandate as a tax, saying it will be up to them in November to decide whether they want the law, which he called “this monstrosity.

One day removed from the ruling, Meese moderated a discussion at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., involving Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business's, both who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Obamacare.

After the event, CNSNews.com asked Meese what his initial reaction was to the decision.

“Actually it was shock,” he said. “There were a lot of outcomes that we anticipated might happen; this is one that nobody, I think, anticipated -- the idea that the Court would uphold the law on the basis that it was a tax.”

“In many ways it was unfortunate, I believe,” said Meese, who served as the 75th Attorney General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan.

“This is a law that should have never been passed and should have been thrown out as unconstitutional for a variety of reasons,” he said. “But to create the subterfuge that what the Congress itself had said was not a tax is a tax in order to save the law, I think was very disappointing.”

Obamacare: Seven New Taxes on Citizens Earning Less than $250,000

While we were all debating the cost to our liberty due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), we were ignoring the cost to our pockets. If there ever was a reason for bipartisan rage about this law, it should be on the twenty - yes, twenty - hidden new taxes of this law. Making matters even more relevant is that seven of these taxes are levied on all citizens regardless of income. Hence, Mr. Obama’s promise not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 is just another falsehood associated with this legislation.

The first, and best known, of these seven taxes that will hit all Americans as a result of Obamacare is the Individual Mandate Tax (no longer concealed as a penalty). This provision will require a couple to pay the higher of a base tax of $1,360 per year, or 2.5% of adjusted growth income starting with lower base tax and rising to this level by 2016. Individuals will see a base tax of $695 and families a base tax of $2,085 per year by 2016.

Next up is the Medicine Cabinet Tax that took effect in 2011. This tax prohibits reimbursement of expenses for over-the-counter medicine, with the lone exception of insulin, from an employee’s pre-tax dollar funded Health Saving Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). This provision hurts middle class earners particularly hard since they earn enough to actually pay federal taxes, but not enough to make this restriction negligible.

The Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Cap, which will begin in 2013, is perhaps the most hurtful provision to the middle class. This part of the law imposes a cap of $2,500 per year (which is now unlimited) on the amount of pre-tax dollars that could be deposited into these accounts. Why is this particularly hurtful to the middle class? It is because funds in these accounts may be used to pay for special needs education for special needs children in the United States. Tuition rates for this type of special education can easily exceed $14,000 per year and the use of pre-tax dollars has helped many middle income families.

Another direct hit to the middle class is the Medical Itemized Deduction Hurdle which is currently 7.5% of adjusted gross income. This is the hurdle that must be met before medical expenses over that hurdle can be taken as a deduction on federal income taxes. Obamacare raises this hurdle to 10% of adjusted gross income beginning in 2013. Consider the middle class family with $80,000 of adjusted gross income and $8,000 of medical expenses. Currently, that family can get some relief from being able to take a $2,000 deduction (7.5% X $80,000 = $6,000; $8,000 –$6,000 = $2,000). An increase to 10% would eliminate the deduction in this example and if that family was paying a 25% federal tax rate, the real cost of that lost deduction would be $500.

Mike Lee: There are “signals” in the conservative opinion that Roberts switched his vote

You already knew that, of course, but in case you were thinking that was just me blathering at you, here’s a U.S. senator saying that something smells fishy to him too.

I asked Lee about speculation that the joint dissent filed by Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas and Alito – which argued for invalidating all of Obamacare – was originally drafted as the majority opinion. Among other things, the dissent spends much of the time attacking the government’s arguments, as well as a dissent from Ginsburg, and only passingly refers to the actual majority opinion. This has been seen by some as a strong indication that Roberts may have changed his vote.

“I noticed the same thing,” Lee said. “Although I don’t know exactly what happened within the Court, these are the kinds of signals you tend to see when something like that does happen. It made no sense to me that the dissent referred repeatedly to the ‘Ginsburg dissent’ instead of the ‘Ginsburg concurring opinion,’ for example. And it was written like it was expected to be a majority opinion. And although I don’t know exactly what happened there, that is the sort of thing you tend to see when somebody switches their vote.”

Did Obama’s “intimidation tactics,” to borrow Lee’s phrase from his interview with Philip Klein, in preemptively attacking the Court put enough pressure on Roberts to get him to flip? I don’t really believe that. The One’s gotten ferocious pushback from our side for grumbling about the Court; he’s been conspicuously quiet about it since oral arguments were held on O-Care back in March aside from some half-joking lines at his fundraisers about having to revisit health care in his second term. Some liberals were so worried about him rolling over and playing dead if the Court struck down the law that they felt obliged to beg him publicly to get angry if things didn’t go his way. And of course, poll after poll shows the balance of public opinion on the side of tossing the law in the trash. Even Anthony Kennedy felt comfortable in voting to cashier the whole thing. Yet somehow John Roberts was afraid of The One, whom virtually no one listens to anymore? C’mon.

Orin Kerr wonders if maybe Roberts didn’t change his vote after all:

So it might have happened like this. The Justices voted at conference and there were five votes to uphold the mandate on the tax argument and at least five votes to strike down or modify the medicaid expansion. The first group is Roberts plus the liberals, and the second group is Roberts plus the conservatives. Roberts is the swing vote in this case and this is the biggest case of his time on the Court, so he quite naturally assigns the opinion to himself. Roberts doesn’t know how many votes his opinion will get, and he tries to write in a way that might persuade some unlikely votes to join him. Maybe Justice Kennedy will change sides and make the case 6-3, which would avoid the dreaded 5-4 vote. Or maybe he can get some liberal votes to join the section blocking the medicaid expansion…

After Chief Roberts circulates his majority opinion, the conservative dissenters decide to write a joint opinion in response. Why a joint opinion? It took Roberts a while to circulate his proposed majority opinion, so the time pressure is particularly intense on the dissenters. The dissenters have a lot [of] issues to cover and very little time in which to say it, and making it a joint effort allows them to pool resources. They divide the pieces with different Justices working on different issues. The result is a 65 page opinion that is a bit of a patchwork, with different parts by different Justices having different lengths and some portions not really necessary (like severability) included. Some parts may have been drafted before the Roberts opinion circulated, which might explain why parts are duplicative of the Roberts opinion.

Darrell Issa Puts Details of Secret Wiretap Applications in Congressional Record

In the midst of a fiery floor debate over contempt proceedings for Attorney General Eric Holder, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record.

The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.

The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.

According to the letter, the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used.

Holder and Cummings have both maintained that the wiretap applications did not contain such details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy.

The wiretap applications were signed by senior DOJ officials in the department’s criminal division, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco and another official who is now deceased.

In Fast and Furious, agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed assault guns bought by “straw purchasers” to “walk,” which meant ending surveillance on weapons suspected to be en route to Mexican drug cartels.

ObamaCare, the Commerce Clause, and Supreme Court Decision

Below is the full post from Mark Levin's Facebook page today. - Reggie

Mark Levin
by Mark Levin on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 11:15am

This may seem a little technical, but it is necessary. So follow along with me. A number of politicians and commentators are claiming that the Supreme Court in the Obamacare case "limited" the reach of the commerce clause, i.e., five justices held that individuals cannot be mandated to buy insurance under the commerce clause. Actually, the five justices did not limit anything. They simply did not accept the Obama administration's ridiculous argument that inactivity is commerce. The status quo stands. However, the bigger point is this.

When a court issues an opinion, it is said to be the "Opinion of the Court." The Opinion of the Court is the controlling precedent. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the Opinion of the Court for Parts I (background on the Obamacare law), II (the Anti-Injunction Act is not a bar to the lawsuit proceeding and being decided) and III-C (Obamacare is valid under the tax power).

But respecting Parts III- A, the commerce clause and necessary and proper section, Roberts is writing for himself, not for a majority.

Furthermore, the Dissent is labeled as: “Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito, dissenting.” It is Not labeled as “dissenting in the judgment, concurring in part” or some permutation.

You can’t say it was the “opinion of the court” that the mandate violated the commerce clause. You have to cobble together sections where Roberts is writing for himself and the dissent (which isn’t formally joined Robert’s writing), is writing for itself.

Justice Thomas, in his separate dissenting opinion, wrote:

“The joint dissent and THE CHIEF JUSTICE cor­rectly apply our precedents to conclude that the Individual Mandate is beyond the power granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.”

Notably, this does not explicitly state that the dissenters joined with the Chief’s opinion respecting the commerce clause (or necessary and proper clause).

If five justices had intended for their view of the commerce clause (and necessary and proper clause) to be controlling as the majority view, they would have said so by joining or concurring in each others' parts. They didn't. So, while we can cobble them together, as a formal legal matter, it is a troubling issue. While the status quo stands re the commerce clause (and necessary and proper clause), there was no formal majority on those issues.

UPDATE: I have added the audio of Sean Hannity interviewing Levin on his radio show about this today.


Roberts Too Clever By Half

And his supporters by more than half.

On Thursday morning, in the most anticipated Supreme Court ruling in recent American history, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Court's four liberal Justices to uphold Obamacare's "individual mandate" as a tax, even while Roberts agreed with the four conservative members of the Court that the mandate would be unconstitutional if considered only based on the Commerce Clause.

The liberal mass media began immediate preening for their president, with the New York Times calling the ruling a "victory for Obama," the Washington Post proclaiming "a win for Obama today," and MSNBC announcing "a dramatic victory."

They may be right, but the decision may equally turn out to be a pyrrhic victory for President Obama, motivating conservatives across the country and pushing independent voters along with skeptical conservatives and libertarians fully into the arms of Mitt Romney.

Since the Court found the mandate constitutional (despite an embarrassing headline by CNN to the contrary), it rendered moot challenges to other important aspects of the Act, including guaranteed issue and community rating (requiring insurance companies to issue insurance to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions and without considering most factors specific to a given applicant other than age and tobacco use).

The only aspect of Obamacare which was overturned, on a 7-2 vote, was the provision that would strip a state of its existing federal Medicaid funds if the state refused to comply with the law's provisions to expand Medicaid.

In opening his reading from the conservative Justices' dissent, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who just relinquished -- though perhaps unfairly -- the title of most suspect conservative on the Court to Chief Justice Roberts, noted "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety." I agree entirely.

The Court's majority found that the mandate is constitutional as a tax, with the implication being that Congress is allowed to impose almost any tax it wants to (other than things like poll taxes which impede fundamental rights of Americans). The dissenters disagreed: "Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, they cannot be such as will enable the Federal Government to regulate all private conduct and to compel the States to function as administrators of federal programs."

Regarding mandating of healthy young people to buy insurance to mask the costs of the rest of Obamacare, the dissenters were not shy: "If Congress can reach out and command even those furthest removed from an interstate market to participate in the market, then the Commerce Clause becomes a font of unlimited power, or in Hamilton's words, 'the hideous monster whose devouring jaws… spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.'"

The Court's dissenters also noted that the law was specifically passed with the mandate as a penalty, not a tax: "We cannot rewrite the statute to be what it is not. Although this court will often strain to construe legislation so as to save it against constitutional attack, it must not and will not carry this to the point of perverting the purpose of a statute ... or judicially rewriting it." Critics of the majority's decision will say for the foreseeable future that Chief Justice Roberts rewrote Obamacare to save it. Michael Carvin, who argued against Obamacare before the Supreme Court, noted dryly, "I'm glad he rewrote the statute instead of the Constitution."

Carvin's summary of the Supreme Court's ruling was on target: "What the Obama Administration… thought they were doing was completely unconstitutional; what they lied to the American people about was constitutional.… Unfortunately they got away with that bait-and-switch. A fraud has been perpetrated on the American citizenry."

In oral arguments before the Supreme Court, the administration's attorneys argued -- as they knew they had to -- that the mandate was constitutional as a tax. This despite the fact that Democrats passed Obamacare by stating specifically and repeatedly that the mandate was not a tax, including a testy response by President Obama himself to unusually challenging questioning by ABC's George Stephanopoulos in 2009.

As recently as a few months ago, President Obama's budget director said in a Congressional hearing that the mandate is not a tax, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying "it operates as a tax, but it is not per se a tax."

If the bill had been marketed to members of Congress and the public as a tax, it is unlikely that even the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase would have been enough to pass the law, despite the large Democrat congressional majorities at the time. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that "if it had been seen as a tax, they wouldn't have gotten ten votes, much less sixty."

As for those Democrats in Congress who have argued, and may continue to argue, that the Obamacare mandate is not a tax, Graham said "they either don't know what they're doing, or they lied to us. So this is a huge issue in the fall." Graham called for every Congressional Republican who is up for election to ask their Democratic opponents whether they support this tax increase; given that Democrats have little choice but to support Obamacare, this is the political equivalent of asking someone if he has stopped beating his wife yet, and a solid political tactic.

Thus, the fact that the Court found the mandate to be a tax offsets some of the political gains for Obama. The question is how much.

Case closed: The Reagan Recovery vs. the Obama Recovery in two charts

Below, is the full post from American Enterprise Institute's James Pethokoukis two days ago. It tells the true story of Reagan v. Obama. - Reggie

In a new book on the economic performance of the twelve U.S. presidents since World War Two, the author ranks Ronald Reagan 8th and Barack Obama 9th.

Now, I wrote yesterday why I think the book’s rating system is flawed overall, and specifically why Reagan deserves a much higher ranking — if not the top ranking.

But it is also extremely weird that Reagan and Obama are right next to each other. And I think these next two charts demonstrate why it is so strange.

First, here is cumulative GDP growth during the first three years of the Reagan recovery and the Obama recovery, using the dating system of the National Bureau of Economic Research and optimistically assuming 2% growth for the second quarter of this year:


Big advantage to Reagan. Second, here is a comparison of net new nonfarm payrolls created over the first 35 months of the two recoveries, adjusted for the growth in population since the 1980s:


Massive advantage to Reagan.

Now the book looks at the entire presidencies of the twelve, and perhaps Obama’s next four years, if he gets a second term, would be better than his first four. But Reagan’s second term saw average GDP growth of 3.6% and the unemployment rate fall to 5.3%. That’s a high hurdle for Obama to clear.

Government wants more people on food stamps

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- More than one in seven Americans are on food stamps, but the federal government wants even more people to sign up for the safety net program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been running radio ads for the past four months encouraging those eligible to enroll. The campaign is targeted at the elderly, working poor, the unemployed and Hispanics.

The department is spending between $2.5 million and $3 million on paid spots, and free public service announcements are also airing. The campaign can be heard in California, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, and the New York metro area.

"Research has shown that many people -- particularly underserved seniors, working poor, and legal immigrants -- do not understand the requirements of the program," said Kevin Concannon, a USDA under secretary.

The radio ads, which run through June 30, come amid a bitter partisan fight over the safety net program. Republican lawmakers want to reduce funding for the benefit or turn it into a block grant program, which would also minimize the cost. Democrats, however, are not willing to make major cuts.

The issue has become so heated that Newt Gingrich called President Obama the "food stamp president" to show how he's increased government spending.

Florida voter purge may restart after ruling

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A judge on Wednesday rejected a request by federal authorities to block Florida's contentious move to remove potentially ineligible voters from its rolls.

The decision could prompt some counties to revive efforts to identify registered voters who are not U.S. citizens. Many counties had suspended the effort after hearing about conflicting legal opinions.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled there was nothing in federal voting laws that prevent the state from identifying ineligible voters even if it is close to the upcoming Aug. 14 election.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit earlier this month to halt the purge, saying federal voting laws barred the effort since it was within 90 days of a federal election. U.S. officials also said the list used by Florida had "critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse voters."

Hinkle in ruling from the bench said federal laws are designed to block states from removing eligible voters close to an election. He said they are not designed to block voters who should have never been allowed to cast ballots in the first place.

Although he said "questioning someone's citizenship" is not a trivial matter, Hinkle also said that non-citizens should not be allowed to vote.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mark Levin: SCOTUS Decision is Lawless

Mark Levin is a constitutional attorney that served in the Reagan Administration. His law firm, Landmark Legal Foundation, was part of this lawsuit and he filed briefs on behalf of the 26 states that sued the Health & Human Services Secretary over this law. - Reggie

Thanks to The Right Scoop for these segments of The Mark Levin Show.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Part 4:


Part 5:

House Votes to Hold AG Eric Holder in Contempt

This post details the vote for Criminal Contempt. The Civil Contempt vote was passed 258-95 with 5 members voting "present." - Reggie

For the first time ever, the House of Representatives voted Thursday on whether to hold a sitting attorney general in contempt of Congress. Republicans brought the vote to the House floor in an effort to force Attorney General Eric Holder to finally face the music for his willful failure to fully comply with a Congressional subpoena of documents relating to Operation Fast & Furious, the not-botched gunwalking scandal that resulted in the death of a U.S. border patrol agent and countless Mexicans — and face the music Holder did. The House voted 255-67 to hold Eric Holder in contempt.

During the pre-vote debate, Minority Leader Pelosi accused the Republicans of playing “heinous,” “frivolous” political games, and even encouraged the members of her party to walk out on the vote: “I’m very moved by the members of the Congressional Black Caucus who say they are going to walk out on this,” she said on the House floor. “Walk out on this. Perhaps that’s the best way. …I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ or not vote.” Her oh-so-rousing call to protest, however, didn’t inspire quite the solidarity she was probably looking for: Over 100 Democrats didn’t vote, but at least 17 Democrats defected and joined Republicans in the contempt charge.

Senator Marco Rubio: This is a 'middle class tax increase'

Florida lawmaker on health care ruling



And there is this...

Full Repeal of ObamaCare Is Now on the Ballot

This morning, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal wing of the Supreme Court to effectively remove all limits on federal power. While finding the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, the Court upheld it as part of Congress' taxing power. With today's ruling, the federal government can now regulate all aspects of our lives, as long as a failure to comply is construed as a "tax". It is now up to us to to protect our liberty.

It is absurd to me that the Court can find a provision unconstitutional yet let it stand because Congress has taxing authority. What actual limit does Roberts thinks exist on federal power? Can Congress now impose a tax on news articles critical of government? It would obviously violate the 1st Amendment, but, with today's ruling, it would fall under Congress' taxing power. It is an argument that can only be made as a path to a pre-determined conclusion. Worried, perhaps, about his own personal "legacy", Roberts simply found a way to uphold ObamaCare.

I will leave the legal analysis to others. My portfolio is political. Today's decision leaves us where we were when Obama and the left rammed the bill through Congress--we have to go to the ballot box and elect representatives who will repeal ObamaCare and all of its disastrous consequences. Obviously, it would have been nice if the Supreme Court had struck down this enormous expansion of federal power. But, we rely on others to protect our freedoms at our peril. We have a choice and we damn well better act on it.





GOP Leaders' Statements on ObamaCare Ruling

House Republican Leaders held a press conference concerning the Supreme Court ObamaCare decision. After their statements was a short Q&A. Unfortunately, the questioners did not have microphones but Speaker Boehner's answers help us figure out the question asked.


Mitt Romney Responds to Supreme Court ObamaCare Ruling

Rush Limbaugh about SCOTUS ObamaCare Decision

from earlier today






"Freedom of Choice Meets Its Death Panel - The Supreme Court"


ObamaCare Upheld as Constitutional

The Supreme Court of the United States has just released their decision on ObamaCare.

Individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause but upheld as a tax. Chief Justice Roberts sides with the leftist members of the Court. John Roberts saved the law. Justices Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Kennedy dissented.

In opening his statement in dissent, Kennedy says: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."

SCOTUS blog's Amy Howe: In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

SCOTUS blog's Lyle: Essentially, a majority of the Court has accepted the Administration's backup argument that, as Roberts put it, "the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition -- not owning health insurance -- that triggers a tax -- the required payment to IRS." Actually, this was the Administration's second backup argument: first argument was Commerce Clause, second was Necessary and Proper Clause, and third was as a tax. The third argument won.

For those that don't know the history of Social Security, this is exactly the same thing FDR's administration did to get SCOTUS approval. At first, they said it was insurance and when the law was challenged they claimed it was a tax. Hence, the unconstitutional Ponzi scheme was upheld.

SCOTUS blog's Amy Howe: By the way, the opinions collectively are a monster. The Chief's opinion is 59 pages, Justice Ginsburg's opinion is 61 pages, the four dissenters are 65 pages, followed by a short two-pager from Justice Thomas. You do the math.

Click here to read the opinion.


Click here to read Palin's full statement about the decision.

And there is this...



Mark Levin finally speaks:


(back row, l-r) Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Elena Kagan. (front row, l-r) Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Uncut: Condoleezza Rice 'On the Record'

Former secretary of state on the Bush Doctrine versus Obama's foreign policy, American exceptionalism, Obama as an apologist and whether she'd consider being Romney's running mate.

from June 26th


Emails: White House worked with health industry to send business to Axelrod’s firm

Evidently, this story isn't going away and it shouldn't. I do wonder why this isn't getting any air time on the 24/7 news channels. - Reggie

The charge that the Obama administration coordinated with the health-care industry in 2009 during the Obamacare fight to send a good chunk of business to the consulting firm founded by presidential adviser David Axelrod has resurfaced in the news media.

At issue is whether the White House worked with officials inside the industry to form the outside group, “Healthy Economy Now,” which ran pro-Obamacare ads with the help of Axelrod’s former political consulting firm, AKPD Message and Media.

In 2009, the firm not only still employed Axelrod’s son, but it still owed the presidential adviser money as part of his buy-out deal with the firm ahead of leaving to work in the White House.

New details have emerged with the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently releasing a barrage of emails showing communications between the administration and the industry sent ahead of the push for Obama’s health care overhaul.

The emails — which have been reviewed by The Daily Caller — include the revelation that the AKPD consultants were being described as “[White House] WH-designated folks.”

“They have been put in charge of the campaign to pass health reform,” Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America (PhRMA) consultant Steve McMahon wrote of a group of consultants, including those from AKPD.

The emails also show how the health-care industry was concerned in 2009 about the revelation in the media that they were partnering with AKPD.

"I want to alert everyone to a potential problem,” wrote Ken Johnson, the senior vice president of PhRMA, in an email to colleagues on June 30, 2009.

“Bloomberg is getting ready to report that ‘political consultants’ close to the White House — more specifically close to [now-former White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel — will be running our 100 million plus dollar campaign to try to pass comprehensive health care reform,” he wrote.

PhRMA lobbyist Bryant Hall responded, writing, “This is a big problem.”

Democratic consultant Nick Baldick chimed in: “Your person can just say, AKPD is not working for PhRMA.”

Hall responded: “Yes — we can spin whatever, but just depends on who is talking to Bloomberg and what they are saying.”

“I also get the impression from talking to the reporter that we will get a heavy dose of criticism for selecting these particular consultants,” Johnson wrote.

The consultants apparently being referenced were John Del Cecato, Larry Grisolano and Andy Grossman. In a June 3, 2009 email, McMahon, the PhRMA consultant, described them as the “WH-designated folks” and wrote that they “are very close to Axelrod (Griz and DelCecato are partners in Ax’s firm).”

The emails suggest that the Obama administration had a role in the creation of the Healthy Economy Now group, which came about after a April 15, 2009 meeting attended by White House official Jim Messina.

In an April 13 email, Jon Selib, chief of staff to Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, wrote to officials inside the health-care industry: “Messina and I are organizing a meeting on health reform at the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] DSCC on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 P.M.”

Congressional Black Caucus Plans Walkout During Holder Contempt Vote

Yes, the vote holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress and the Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare are both happening this morning. We already know the probable outcome of the vote in Congress and it will take place after the SCOTUS ruling is revealed. - Reggie

The Congressional Black Caucus plans to walk out of the House tomorrow when the contempt-of-Congress vote on Attorney General Eric Holder is taken. Apparently, they have scheduled a meeting at 10 a.m. to discuss the walkout and urge other Democrats to join them. Holder, the first black attorney general, has not released documents relating to the Fast and Furious debacle, and Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been relentless in his search for the truth.

The Democrats are certain to mention the fact that House Republicans, then in the minority, walked out in 2008 when contempt charges were filed by the House Democrats against Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers, staffers in George W. Bush’s administration. Of course, they will neglect to mention that when the Republicans walked out, it wasn’t over the contempt charges per se, but the fact that the House Democrats used the contempt charges to avoid passing the FISA bill, which was about to expire and allowed the federal government to initiate new activities monitoring terrorists. House Republicans were furious that the Democrats were putting partisan politics before the nation’s security.

And now the Democrats are doing it again. By walking out of the vote against Holder, they are showing that they are more concerned about the fact that Holder’s demise could damage their president than the fact that Holder endangered US security. Brian Terry would be alive today if not for Fast and Furious; who knows how much other damage has been inflicted as a result of that policy?

Barack Bilbo

Jeffrey Lord
Race is the base, the rich are the hitch: Obama and the Party of the Klan go Latino.

"I intend raising hell with the money lords, the privileged few, the men who hold 90 per cent of the wealth of the nation." -- Ku Klux Klan Member, Liberal Democrat, US Senator-elect and former Governor Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, 1934

Barack Obama and Theodore Bilbo agreed on two things.

They hated the rich. They judged by race.

Race is the base. The rich are the hitch. Identity politics is all.

First, last and always.

Over time, Americans have learned the hard way that when dealing with progressives or liberals -- the Left -- the race may change. What defines "rich" may change. The century, the decade, the year may change. What never changes is the elemental component of identity politics.

Race is the base. The rich are the hitch. Resenting some other race and always resenting the rich is the game.

From the Mississippi of 1927 to the Arizona of 2012. From the attempts to keep legally immigrating Asians out of America at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, to the attempts to hustle illegally immigrating Mexicans into America at the dawn of the 21st. Whether using the Supreme Court of 1857 to write slavery into the Constitution, or using the Department of Homeland Security of today to demand illegal immigration be written out of state law.

Whatever.

Race is always the base. The rich always are the hitch.

The names may change. From Bilbo the Builder (as Theodore Bilbo was nicknamed) to The One (as Obama was dubbed by Oprah Winfrey.).

In the end? Nothing changes.

Race is the base. The rich are the hitch. From Bilbo to Barack.

So, you ask. Who was Theodore Bilbo? And why exactly does Barack Obama so resemble him?

Like Barack Obama, Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi built and spent his entire political career selling that old liberal Love Potion Number One: race and class warfare.

Barack Obama: Socialist or Nouveau Fascist?

Which "-ism" is America under his rule?

"Barack Obama is a socialist."

Heard that one before? Of course you have. In fact if polling is to be believed, it's more likely than not that you have accepted this premise at some point in the not too distant past.

Two summers ago a poll conducted by Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg found that 55 percent of registered voters nationwide believed the term socialist accurately applied to Obama. In fact 33 percent of respondents -- a third of all registered voters in the nation -- believed the term applied to Obama "very well."

More recently a Pew Center survey on some of our nation's most commonly used ideological labels revealed that 60 percent of Americans have a negative impression of the word "socialism."

But is Obama a socialist? And if he's not -- what is he?

Certainly there is a compelling case to be made that Obama is a socialist in the contemporary sense -- much like the French Socialists, who are proposing massive tax hikes on the wealthy after securing the presidency and majorities in France's Sénat and Assemblée Nationale.

Europe is littered with such tax-and-spend parties -- including Germany's Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands and Spain's Partido Socialista Obrero Español (both of which ruled coalition governments in their countries until 2009 and 2011, respectively).

But is 21st century European socialism -- which has led to a full-blown recession and pushed the world to the brink of a second global financial crisis -- really socialism in the way that Karl Marx envisioned it?

Obama has never advocated doctrinaire socialism (which is based on government ownership of private property and the means of production). Certainly he has made good on his promise to "spread the wealth around" via unprecedented government intervention in the free market, but he cannot be called a socialist in the mold of Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro or Kim Jong-Il.

"What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands," columnist Thomas Sowell wrote recently. "That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector."

Sound familiar? This is precisely what happened during the recent recession. For example, government-mandated loans aimed at boosting homeownership were clearly among the root causes of the economic downturn - but when the sub-prime bubble burst blame was placed exclusively on "corporate greed." Of course at the same time politicians were absolving themselves of any responsibility, they were forcing taxpayers to subsidize massive bailouts of these "greedy" financial institutions.

So if Obama isn't a socialist, what is he? Economically speaking it's far more accurate to say that he is a fascist -- a supporter of dirigisme, in which government manages the economy through central planning, not collective ownership. Fascism did not seek to stamp out the innovative, wealth-creating potential of profit-seeking investment and entrepreneurship - instead it sought to channel those innovations (and funnel that wealth) to the good of the state.

"In fascist Italy the state pays for the blunders of private enterprise," Italian social critic Gaetano Salvemini wrote in the mid-1930s.

When business was good, "profit remained to private initiative." However when downturns came (as they inevitably do), "the government added the loss to the taxpayer's burden."

"Profit is private and individual," Salvemini wrote. "Loss is public and social."