March 25, 2010 11:43AM

Thursday Links

  • Now that the health care bill is law, you should know exactly how it's going to affect you, your premiums, and your coverage over the next few years. Here's a helpful breakdown.
  • As the health care overhaul crosses home plate, global warming legislation steps up to bat.
March 18, 2010 9:02AM

Is Obama Losing David Brooks?

New York Times columnist David Brooks, President Obama's biggest fan among self-proclaimed conservatives, has been plunged into the depths of despair by the latest machinations of Obama and his congressional allies:

Deem and pass? Are you kidding me? Is this what the Revolutionary War was fought for? Is this what the boys on Normandy beach were trying to defend? Is this where we thought we would end up when Obama was speaking so beautifully in Iowa or promising to put away childish things?

Yes, I know Republicans have used the deem and pass technique. It was terrible then. But those were smallish items. This is the largest piece of legislation in a generation and Pelosi wants to pass it without a vote. It’s unbelievable that people even talk about this with a straight face. Do they really think the American people are going to stand for this? Do they think it will really fool anybody if a Democratic House member goes back to his district and says, “I didn’t vote for the bill. I just voted for the amendments.” Do they think all of America is insane?

March 17, 2010 4:10PM

Wednesday Links

  • There has been talk that House Democrats are planning to "deem" the health care bill into law without calling for a vote. If you're not sure how that process works, read this.
March 16, 2010 5:04PM

The Bill Is Deemed Passed

Today's question at Politico Arena is:

Should Democrats be worried that health care could be subject to a successful court challenge?

My response is:

I'm the first in my family not to be a lawyer. But Mike McConnell's article seems compelling to me. As he notes, Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution requires that a bill must pass both houses of Congress to become a law. Duh. And for those who have trouble with that concept, he goes on: "As the Supreme Court wrote in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), a bill containing the 'exact text' must be approved by one house; the other house must approve 'precisely the same text.'"

So the "deemed passed" rule doesn't seem to be constitutional. Then the interesting question is, Will the Supreme Court strike down a major piece of welfare-state legislation just because Congress didn't dot all the i's and cross all the t's. After all, some of us think the Supreme Court has failed to strike down legislation whose substance violates the Constitution. Would it be more forthright on a procedural issue? Would it dare to tell the political branches that they can't have the health-care program they worked on for 14 months, negotiating careful and complicated compromises in both houses?

But then, the reason that Democrats are contemplating such an audacious scheme is precisely that they can't find a bill that a majority of the House will vote for. So this wouldn't be like the Supreme Court striking down Franklin Roosevelt's Agricultural Adjustment Act, which passed Congress quickly and overwhelmingly in May 1933. It would not involve the Supreme Court standing up to the unified political branches. Rather, it would only require the Court to tell Congress that they have to actually pass bills before they become law, which apparently a majority of the House is not prepared to do.

March 15, 2010 2:51PM

More on the Last‐​Shot Strategy

Related to my post below on whether last-second shots with time expiring, while good for basketball, might be bad for governance, Steven Horwitz offers a compelling hypothetical in academic governance at Coordination Problem:

...Nonetheless, the leadership insists this curriculum change is crucially important to the future of the institution and if only the Faculty Senate would pass it and put it in place, the faculty and students would then realize just how good it is.  In fact, the faculty leadership, working with the clear approval of the president and VPAA, are now scouring Roberts Rules of Order to find a series of sure-to-be controversial parliamentary maneuvers to get the Faculty Senate to approve the new curriculum without it ever going to the full faculty, and possibly without the Faculty Senate ever actually taking a clean vote on it.  The president, meanwhile, is going around to students and alumni telling them how important this new curriculum is and, in the process, criticizing the faculty opponents by charging they have self-interested reasons for defending the status quo, even as the new curriculum proposal contains the aforementioned special deals for some of the faculty supporters.

The faculty as a whole and the student body continue to oppose the new curriculum by a consistent majority.

Having considered this hypothetical scenario, here are my questions for you my friends:

  • Would you consider this a legitimate way to pass a new curriculum?  If the faculty leadership in conjunction with the administration were to ram this through by questionable parliamentary procedure and over the objections of a clear majority, do you think this new curriculum would have any legitimacy? ...
  • March 15, 2010 10:21AM

    Axelrod: ‘Louisiana Purchase’ Somehow Not One of Those Corrupt, State‐​Specific Bribes

    The House leadership plans to hold a vote, more or less, on the Senate health care bill this week.  President Obama says he wants to "ge[t] rid of many of the provisions that had no place in health care reform -- provisions that were more about winning individual votes…than improving health care."  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Democrats will “take the pot-sweetening out of the process.”  Yet Democrats have decided to retain the Senate bill's $300 million subsidy for the state of Louisiana, commonly known as the "Louisiana Purchase," and other state-specific bribes pot-sweeteners.

    On ABC News's This Week yesterday, Obama advisor David Axelrod argued that the "Louisiana Purchase" is not targeted solely at Louisiana:

    The president does believe that state-only carve-outs should not be in the bill. There are things in the bill that apply to groupings of states...for example...what has been portrayed as a provision relating to Louisiana says that if a state, if every county in a state is declared a disaster area, they get some extra Medicaid funds. Well, that would apply to any state...

    Sure, in theory.  But as ABC News reported in November, the bill speaks of "certain states recovering from a major disaster" and "spends two pages describing what could be written with a single world: Louisiana."

    Axelrod would have us believe that after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wrote the best darned bill he could, he slapped his head and said, "Omigosh! The way I worded this one subsidy provision, it would only apply to Louisiana -- the home state of a senator whose vote I need! Gee whiz, what are the odds??"  Using Axelrod's rationale, if Reid had included a $10 billion pension for "all African-American former presidents," that would not be an Obama-only pot-sweetener because it would apply to any African-American former president.

    March 11, 2010 2:32PM

    ObamaCare Will Include Taxpayer‐​Funded Abortions

    According to MSNBC, Democratic leaders have given up on trying to appease pro-life House Democrats:

    House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama's health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats.A break on abortion would remove a major obstacle for Democratic leaders in the final throes of a yearlong effort to change health care in America. But it sets up a risky strategy of trying to round up enough Democrats to overcome, not appease, a small but possibly decisive group of Democratic lawmakers in the House...

    Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee...predicted some of the anti-abortion lawmakers in the party will end up voting for the overhaul anyway.

    Pro-life Democrats will vote for taxpayer-funded abortions?  Without even a fig leaf of a compromise?