American Elephants

Act of Great Cunning? Too Clever By Half? Complete Disaster? by The Elephant's Child

The ObamaCare decision was a shock. We had been hearing about the huge numbers of  the public who wanted ObamaCare repealed. Intrade was running over 70% for repeal.  And Chief Justice Roberts joined the left to uphold ObamaCare. For many Republicans, the instant reaction was outrage.

With Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the swing vote, joining the conservative members of the court, we seemed to have repeal guaranteed and Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold. Why?

Trying to understand was interrupted by a more plebeian problem, of the plumbing variety. You know how it goes. You try all the home remedies hoping to avoid having to call the plumber, and it’s always late on Friday or on the weekend, when the cost is way higher.  Nevermind. You know how it goes.

Here are a variety of serious people with fine minds offering their take:

Paul Rahe is a professor of History at Hillsdale College and an outspoken critic of ObamaCare.

Sean Trende is Senior Elections Analyst for Real Clear Politics.

Timothy Dalrymple writing at Patheos after listening to a talk from Paul Clement, who argued the case.

Mark Tapscott. Executive Editor of the Washington Examiner.

Richard Epstein Professor of Law at University of Chicago and NYU School of Law. Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Joshua Hawley Now a Law Professor, but a former clerk to Chief Justice Roberts.

Randy Barnett Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown Law, and a member of the team that argued the case before the Supreme Court.

You can easily find all sorts of articles filled with outrage.  These are more thoughtful. The Wall Street Journal has several pieces, but is behind a subscription barrier.

The Final Verdict by The Elephant's Child

Just Another Broken Promise by The Elephant's Child

The tax increases imbedded in ObamaCare add up to $1.7 trillion over the next ten years, according to the CBO. The”mandate” which they sometimes called a “penalty”—which you have to pay if you don’t buy the health insurance the government ordered you to buy — has been clarified by the Supreme Court. It is a tax.


Hillary Clinton: Say, that Obama fellow is quite dishonest, isn’t he?! by American Elephant

The House Finds Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress. by The Elephant's Child

In a 255-67 vote, the House placed Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a Congressional subpoena, in the Fast and Furious inquiry.

Seventeen Democrats ignored party lines and voted with Republicans to find the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. 108 Democrats didn’t cast votes to protest the fact that the House GOP was holding the vote.The Department of Justice is not expected to enforce the criminal contempt measure. But less than an hour later, the House passed a separate resolution allowing Issa’s Congressional Oversight Committee  to pursue civil court action against Holder.

The Congressional Black Caucus and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) staged a walkout during the vote as Democrats charged the GOP with staging a witch hunt against Holder that demeans the lower chamber.The Congressional Oversight Committee is concerned with uncovering just who is responsible for an operation that unlawfully sent nearly 2000 guns across the border to Mexican drug cartels where they were responsible for killing Border agent Brian Terry and ICE agent Jaime Zapata and something over 300 murdered Mexican nationals. That is an awful lot of dead bodies, for which the United States is apparently responsible, and the Democrats want to call attempting to find out who authorized it a “witch hunt?’

If the drug wars just across the border weren’t killing so many people, it might well have been called an “international incident.” It is against the law to invoke “executive privilege” to cover up wrongdoing, but the President has invoked executive privilege which is usually used to protect conversations between a president and advisers.

The ObamaCare Battle Has Just Begun. by The Elephant's Child

On this one, I’m with Justice Kennedy. I cannot see the difference  between overthrowing the mandate, and then  doing the same thing and calling it a “tax.” Roberts rejected the mandate, then wrote a new law himself. A big mistake.

I am far more concerned, however, with what a remarkably bad law the Affordable Care Act, (with the Orwellian name) is. It is not affordable, and is going to be a huge tax increase on the middle class. Justice Kennedy writing the dissent said:

What is absolutely clear, affirmed by the text of the 1789 Constitution, by the Tenth Amendment ratified in 1791, and by innumerable cases of ours in the 220 years since, is that there are structural limits upon federal power — upon what it can prescribe with respect to private conduct, and upon what it can impose upon the sovereign States.  Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, the 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.

The Supreme Court is upholding as a tax something that the Congress and the President swore was not a tax —allowing them to enact as a tax something that if it had been presented as a tax would never have passed Congress.

I don’t know if people are assuming that they are going to get free health care. I think some are. All those formerly uninsured people are supposed to be funneled into Medicaid, but we are already short over 50,000 physicians, with more doctors leaving  daily. I know four who have departed recently. One went to Africa, one to Montana, one simply vanished and one went to work for the Diabetes Foundation, and I know a couple who do not accept insurance at all. Our Medical Schools are unprepared to turn out significantly more doctors, which means that emergency room use will go up significantly, increasing costs.

The tax on medical devices (everything from stents and catheters to wheelchairs and diagnostic machines) is sending some companies out of the country, some are forced into massive layoffs, and some are just cutting back.  There will be significantly less innovation. Drug companies are already moving their labs abroad because of excessive regulation and long timeline for drug approvals.

The ruling was a real surprise. Opinion was very much expecting the law to be overturned. Intrade bets were over 70% that the law would be struck down. As the ruling was announced, the stock market dropped, and Mitt Romney raised $300,000 in the first hour, and is up over a million on the day.

The new law will insure more Americans, it will still fall far short of universal coverage. It is estimated that by 2019 there will still be 21 million uninsured.  The legislation will cost far more than advertised, more than $2.7 trillion over 10 years with full implementation, and will add more than $823 billion to the national debt in the first ten years. Taxes will increase by more than $569 billion between now and 2019, and the burden it places on business will significantly reduce economic growth and employment. Care will undoubtedly be rationed, for there won’t be enough doctors. As expenses grow, through the system rationing will be general.

Under the guise of implementing the law, the IRS has announced it will impose a tax of up to $3000 per worker on employers whom Congress has not authorized a tax. Yet if the IRS doesn’t impose the tax, the whole law could collapse.

Credits are available only in states that create insurance exchanges themselves. The federal government might create exchanges in states that decline, but the government cannot offer credits through its own exchanges. If there are no credits, there is nothing to trigger that $3,000 tax.

The way to ge rid of this deeply troubling piece of legislation is to get rid of Obama, and elect a Republican Senate. ObamaCare is very unpopular, and as people learn ‘what is in it’ it is sure to become even more unpopular. The fight will not be easy. Have courage.

ObamaCare is Narrowly Upheld 5—4. by The Elephant's Child

The very idea that we sit on the edge of our seats, eyes toward Washington DC, waiting on the deliberations and dispositions of nine mortals to tell us how much of our liberty we get to retain is preposterous.  —Dave Carter, Ricochet  

—The Supreme Court ruled that ObamaCare’s individual mandate is not constitutional under the Commerce Power, which was how Congress framed the mandate to avoid a political backlash from calling it a tax. Congress and the president swore up and down that the mandate was not a tax. Yet the Court upheld the mandate as a valid use of that disavowed taxing power. What Congress said the individual mandate is, the Court said is not constitutional. What Congress said the mandate is not, the Court ruled is constitutional. Everybody got that?

Where does that leave us?

  1. The Supreme Court just enacted a law that Congress never would have passed.
  2. The Court just told Congress it is okay to lie to the people to avoid political accountability.
         —Michael F.Cannon, CATO                 

—  We  do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.”
—Chief Justice Roberts from the decision, for the majority

—Today’s decision validates our claim that a Congressional power to compel that all Americans engage in commerce was a constitutional bridge too far.  By rewriting the law to make it a ‘tax,’ the Court has now thrown ObamaCare into the political process where the People will decide whether this so-called ‘tax’ will stand.  And the People will also decide whether future Supreme Court nominees will pledge to enforce the Constitution’s restrictions on the power of Congress.
              — Senator Mitch McConnell

 —Salvaging the idea that Congress did have the power to try to expand health care to virtually all Americans, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of the crucial – and most controversial — feature of the Affordable Care Act. By a vote of 5-4, however, the Court did not sustain it as a command for Americans to buy insurance, but as a tax if they don’t. That is the way Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was willing to vote for it, and his view prevailed. The other Justices split 4-4, with four wanting to uphold it as a mandate, and four opposed to it in any form.
—Randy Barnett, Georgetown Law

Oh This is Fun: 1001 Reasons to Vote Against Obama. by The Elephant's Child

Kyle Becker at Conservative Daily News has put together a list of 1,001 reasons, the complete edition, to vote against Barack Obama and his quest for a second term. The list begins with number 1. The man started his presidency off with a bang by botching his oath of office. and continues for one thousand more reasons. You can have fun with this all day long, but don’t share it with a liberal, who might have apoplexy, but would probably call you racist.

President Obama. Foreign Policy 101. The European Crisis. by The Elephant's Child

At the recent G-20 summit in Mexico, the state of the euro zone was the dominant theme.

While euro-zone members are well aware that the crisis affects the entire world, they are becoming increasingly allergic to advice from abroad. On Monday morning EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso lost it when a Canadian reporter in shorts wanted to know why the North Americans should be responsible for the problems of rich Europeans. “We are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy,” Barroso fumed. “By the way, this crisis was not originated in Europe. This crisis originated in North America and much of our financial sector was contaminated by, how can I put it, unorthodox practices from some sectors of the financial market.”

The article from the Spiegel reporter in Los Cabos went on:

Even before the summit, Barack Obama and Merkel met for a bilateral talk to smooth over their differences. The US president is among Merkel’s loudest critics due to the degree to which the euro crisis affects the US economy — and with it, his chances of being re-elected.

Germany is worried about the euro-zone, and wondering how far they are willing to go to hold the euro zone together. The  criticisms from the White House and the unwanted advice are not going down well:

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble rebuffed recent criticism of Germany’s handling of the euro crisis from Barack Obama, telling the US president to get his own house in order before giving advice.

“Herr Obama should above all deal with the reduction of the American deficit. That is higher than that in the euro zone,” he told German public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday night.” It is easy to give advice to others,” he added.

If You Find Yourself in a Hole— Stop Digging! by The Elephant's Child

It has long seemed to me that Democrats dig themselves into a hole with their electoral strategy, but it frequently works for them. They divide the electorate up into grievance groups and pander during the campaign with oily words and glowing promises, to “rev up the base.”

There are, above all, Blacks—for Democrats believe the number one problem in America is race; followed by Hispanics, Women, Unions, Gays (GLBTQQ), Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, Environmentalists and undocumented Americans. They are hoping everyone will forget about the economy.

Even writing this list, the names are problematic. Does one write African-American or Black? Hispanic or Latino? Separate the Unions into UAW, SEIU, Teachers, Teamsters, Longshoremen and AFL/CIO, and illegal immigrants are not “illegal” they are undocumented. Sigh. And this doesn’t count the big donor groups like Goldman Sachs and the Greens who must be pandered to as well—deep pockets.

The largest minority group is Asian, but they are not a grievance group, they’re just working hard and succeeding beyond all expectation. Besides, Asia is a continent composed of many countries that don’t necessarily like each other,so  you can’t lump them all together.

Promises made to one group are often trumped by promises to another, and when the campaign season gets tight, the biggest favors go to those with the deepest pockets. Or doesn’t anyone notice? They hope no one will remember when the campaign is over.

Obama is running ads to remind African-Americans of all he has done for them as they struggle to weather an economic crisis he “inherited.” The ads do not include Obama’s  major role in their predicament.

The financial crisis, which was caused by the housing bubble, was caused by banks being forced by Congress to make loans to those who would not have qualified for a loan under ordinary prudent rules of banking. Obama talks glibly of rapacious banks who forced poor people to take loans that they didn’t understand, but that’s what he was doing—pushing thousands of credit-poor blacks into homes they couldn’t afford. As a civil-rights attorney, he sued banks to rubberstamp mortgages for urban residents. The lead client in one of his class-action suits has since lost her home and filed bankruptcy.

Obama focused on “housing rights” when he worked as a community organizer— John McKnight, who gave him his first job, coined the term “redlining, was the father of the anti-redlining movement. He helped Obama to get into Harvard. When Obama graduated he worked for a civil-rights law firm that worked closely with McKnight’s Gamaliel Foundation and National People’s Action and ACORN who were lobbying the Clinton administration to tighten enforcement of anti-redlining laws.  Obama trained bus loads of goons who were dispatched to the doorsteps of bankers to demand more home loans for minorities.

The pressure worked. Clinton’s bank regulators signed an anti-redlining policy that declared traditional mortgage underwriting standards to be “racist”  and ordered banks to apply easier lending rules for minorities.

Obama was for subprime loans before he was against them. They started to sour in 2007. His Chicago pal Austan Goolsbee, who became his top economist, sang the praise of subprime loans in a New York Times column. He argued that they allowed poor blacks “access to mortgages.” There’s much more in this excellent article from Investors. Obama has exploited the suffering of minorities, blamed the banks for the crisis he helped to cause, and continued the policies that hurt those he blithely claims to favor.

An excellent example of the conflicts that come from this kind of policy are the DC Opportunity Scholarships to give some District children a chance to escape poor schools. It was only about ten days ago that Obama finally relented to allow the scholarships. The Cato Institute has confirmed that the District of Columbia spends $29,409 per pupil for their reportedly dreadful schools. The Census Bureau has confirmed the number. The vouchers that go to DC Opportunity Scholarships cost approximately $8,000 per pupil. The Teachers’ Union was opposed to the scholarship program so getting kids out of bad schools got trumped.

Pandering to Hispanics is a problem, for unemployment is a huge problem, especially in California’s great Central Valley where it ranges over 20% because Obama’s EPA or Fish and Wildlife has shut off the water to the nations’ farms to save the possibly endangered minnow, the Delta smelt. You keep the water turned off, and pretend that it’s all about amnesty for children (up to age 30) who are here illegally through  “no fault of their own.”

The attempt to pander to Women by paying for their birth control has developed into a major problem with another group that is much larger than N.O.W.— the Catholic Church and many other churches who stand for religious freedom.

Buying votes by pandering to grievance groups can get you in real trouble, expose your lies and falsehoods, and even drag you back once again to the Supreme Court, one of the three separate but equal branches of government. (Progressives are actually so disturbed that the Court disagrees with them that they’re talking court-packing again. That takes us back to FDR’s New Deal).

Tom Sowell on Barack Obama by The Elephant's Child

This is from 2008, before the election, but I ran across it and it’s interesting how prescient Tom Sowell is. And it seemed to fit with my previous post.

Tyrants, Dictators and Kings? Not Here, Not Now, Not Ever. by The Elephant's Child

Imperialism? Not a description we’re used to in America, but one that is becoming increasingly common around the web. Today’s presidency has little regard for the separation of powers, or the three equal branches of government.  Don’t like the laws? Just ignore them  and go your own way.

The Founders created three separate and equal branches of government as a system for slowing things down. Encouraging deliberation and argumentation meant fewer ill-thought out laws and regulations. The president said that if Congress will not act (in the way he wants them to) he’ll just have to go around them. Dr. Matthew Spalding at Heritage listed some of the most blatant offenses:

Last week, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum instructing U.S. immigration officials to use their “prosecutorial discretion” to create a policy scheme contrary to existing law, designed to implement legislation that Congress hasn’t passed.

The President himself has admitted he doesn’t have the authority to do this. “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting, I promise you, not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works,” he told Hispanic activists last year. “That’s not how our democracy functions.”

The Left does not like disagreement, but there are still limits:

  • The Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the President’s cap-and-trade plan, but his EPA classified carbon dioxide, one of the building blocks of life, as a pollutant so that it could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
  • The Employee Free Choice Act— a particular goal of labor unions—was defeated by Congress, the National Labor Relations Board announced a rule that would approve “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employer’s ability to make their case to workers, and guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization.
  • An internet regulation failed to be approved by Congress, but the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would regulate the Web anyway, despite a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority  to do so.
  • Congress has consistently barred the Dept. of Education from getting involved in curriculum , the administration has offered waivers to the No Child Left Behind law in exchange for states adopting national education standards, without authorization from Congress.

The Imperial Administration has refused to enforce laws duly enacted by Congress:

  • The Supreme Court unanimously approved Arizona’s right to ask those questioned on violations for their immigration papers, the administration has announced they will only respond in cases of major crime. They choose not to enforce immigration law.
  • The Department of Justice has chosen not to push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, but simply decided it will not enforce those laws.
  • DoJ has announced it will not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act or defend it from legal challenge rather than seeking change from Congress.

On Tuesday, the president invoked ‘executive privilege’ to avoid handing over 1,300 documents in an ongoing Congressional investigation. The Supreme Court has ruled that ‘executive privilege cannot be used to shield wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, the president gave “recess appointments” to four official who were subject to confirmation by the Senate, even though the Senate was not in recess. This ignores the  advise and consent role required by the Constitution.

The President of the United States of America may be a uniquely powerful official, but his authority does not extend to making laws, nor choosing which laws he likes and which he doesn’t, nor which he will enforce and which he will ignore. Doesn’t work that way.

We need to elect a president will vigorously exert his legitimate powers, and faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress, while clearly understanding the limits of his powers. This president’s misunderstanding of his role is not just astonishing, but dangerous to our constitutional republic.

In his Osawatomie, Kansas speech Obama stated that his aim was a nation where “everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” Nice phrase, but totally meaningless.  Who decides? Who controls? Who makes the rules? Turns out that government, more of it, is just the tool to do that job. Nevermind that government, particularly under this president, does a singularly poor job with decisions, controls and regulation. Which ends up as an enormously poor job with an economy.

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