No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

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Archive for the 'Health Care Reform' Category

June 27, 2012

I wouldn’t want to be Bo tomorrow!

If you blog about politics, it’s hard not to toss a blog up prior to tomorrow’s announcement re: Placebocare.

I’m on vacation in the great northern parts of Minnesota so this won’t be long. I want it down to play against after the decision is revealed and for posterity…it’s too damn easy to say “yeah, I knew that’s what would happen!”

Placebocare is going down in flames. I say this not because I want it to…I do, but because of the signs along the way.

Ginsberg inkled the decision a few weeks back when she said that the decisions would have “sharp disagreement.” I can’t see her making this comment without the single most important case of the session, and arguably of this generation, in mind.

Second, it appears that Chief Justice Roberts himself will be writing the opinion for the case. There is much rumor on this but it makes sense as he is the only justice who has not written one this go around. I think the fact that Roberts writes the opinion makes the mandate a goner.

As to the rest of Placebocare, I think once the mandate is gone, the Supreme Court will also decide that the rest of the bill needs to go. I think there will be two likely arguments for this.

First, the Commerce Clause has been used as an excuse for Congress to pass legislation on damn near anything they wanted to for the past 40 years or so. “The slippery slope” is no longer a theory, it is real. I think that given that the administration argued for the right to do this under the Commerce Clause, the Supremes will take this chance to council Congress on what is and what is not acceptable to slide under the Commerce Clause door. I would expect Roberts to see this decision as his legacy in the court. I don’t seem him passing up this opportunity to put his stamp on the history of the court.

Second, the Administration gave the Supremes the perfect out on shooting the entire bill as they argued that the mandate was essential to make Placebocare work financially. I can’t remember who, it may have been Roberts, made the astute observation that it was somewhat indefensible of the Administration to ask the Supremes to figure out the financial implications of what should stay or go in the Placebocare law if the mandate was struck. Hell, Nancy Pelosi didn’t even know what was in the bill until it was signed but knew it was a good law. How could the Supremes be more omniscient than Nancy P and Harry R?

OK, so Placebocare is dead, then what?

Well, if you thought Obama was petulant after he got slapped on Arizona, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

If this goes as I see it, Obama is a lame duck. Worse, he’s a dead duck politically. Unfortunately, he will still hold the office of President for several more months. I don’t expect Obama to go quietly into that good night. Rather, like post Arizona, I think we could see petulance at a level not seen since the last of the Roman emperors. We are likely to see all kinds of Executive orders made dealing with administration and fund dispersal of various federally supported medical programs. Obama’s sole intent will be to leave office with a great big “I told you so” sign on his bumper. He will attempt to cause chaos in as many medical programs as possible just to be able to say that his plan would have prevented all of that. In fact, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him do this and couch it as things he must now do to be fiscally responsible

Obama has shown himself to be a very sore loser. I wouldn’t want to be Bo his dog, tomorrow night!

April 1, 2012

Meme, Meme, Meeeeeme!

It somehow seemed fitting that as it reached it’s “terrible twos,” Placebocare reached the Supreme Court. After three days of arguments, whether Placebocare, in whole or part, gets to see it’s “terrific threes” is now left to nine people who regularly wear black robes to the work place.

I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. However, it seems that the preponderance of opinion on both the Left and Right is that the Administration did a horrible job of making its case. Many, again on both sides, believe the individual mandate is in serious trouble. Beyond that, there is growing concern that whether the Justices believe the mandate to be severable or not may be moot. The whole of Placebocare could go down not over a severability argument but because the law is so complex and so intertwined on so many levels that the Justices may well feel that it is not within their ability to judge what stays or goes and instead give Congress a “do over” on the whole law.

Typically in a Supreme Court case, once the case is argued there may be a few days of public speculation as to the outcome if the case was unique or particularly important, like the Kelo decision. I don’t think that pattern will hold with Placebocare.

In a sign that the Left is both worried and is positioning for fall elections, we are seeing and will continue to see articles like this one from Slate.

Let’s skip past the “if you believe Placebocare is unconstitutional you must be a redneck from Kentucky” comment like:

The smart money before the argument was on an 8-1 upholding of Obamacare.

and head straight for what we will hear from now until the day the Supreme’s announce their decision…and if the Left loses, what we will hear as Obama’s campaign standard:

If it overturns Obamacare, the Supreme Court will have revealed its radical nature.

You see to the Left, the Supreme Court is only “Supreme” when it agrees with their agenda. When it doesn’t agree, it is there to be politicized like a group of nine “Joe the Plumbers.” President Obama showed us clearly how this works with his 2010 State of the Union Speech. During the speech, in reference to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, President Obama openly criticized the Supremes. He claimed that they “reversed a century of law.” It was President Obama’s way of saying “they’re radical.”

Between now and the end of June when the Supreme Court is expected to release it’s decision, the MSM and other left media outlets will be attempting to taunt the Supreme Court to see things their way. Taunts like “radical,” “legitimacy” and “ideologues” will be included in numerous recounts of the arguments and the possible ramifications of the outcome. If the decision goes against the Administration, you can bank on Obama using these same taunts in an effort to galvanize his slipping support in an effort to make the Supreme Court the reason for his reelection. In fact, if, as I suspect, Sotomayer leaks the decision to the Administration, you can expect to see Obama cranking this rhetoric as a preemptive strike on what will be a harmful decision.

It’s going to be a long spring folks. Politics will not be leaving stage front and center for another several months, maybe a year. In the meantime, expect to hear a lot of taunting of the Supreme Court. Like the kids of our youth I can already hear the left yelling, “Meme, Meme, Meeeeeme!”

Update 4/2 10:38 AM didn’t know Allen West was a reader of NRE. Welcome aboard Allen!

update 2 4/2 3:01 PM No I’m not clairvoyant I just understand how the Left “thinks.” Expect to see a lot more of this in the coming weeks. In fact, the more you see of it the better as it will be a confirmation that Placebocare will be struck down

Update 3: 4/2 3:55 PM Oh, my gosh, my sides hurt I’m laughing so hard! I’m almost ready to declare Placebocare is going down in total…almost but not yet!

March 1, 2012

Thank you, Thank you very much!

It’s been a couple of interesting weeks on the Obamacare front.

First, Obama Inc. told the Catholic Church that they had to offer contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. I covered that little episode here.

Obama Inc. made a poorly camouflaged attempt to acquiesce without actually changing anything. Their proposal was to not require the Catholic Church, but to require their insurers to provide the contraception at no cost.

After 22.5 seconds of consideration, the Church came back with their response..NYET! In fact, not only NYET but if you force us, we’ll close our hospitals and other institutions.

Also recently, a study was released that showed some interesting early information on the reality of costs associated with Obamacare. You may remember President Obama telling us time and again how Obamacare would bend the cost curve on health care. Well, it turns out he was probably right. The problem is that the cost curve appears to be bent up not down, and at a very steep angle. According to this analysis and report, the first year costs for the high risk pool that covers people with preexisting conditions are running at a rate that is twice what was planned!

Finally, some had theorized that Obama may use the Blunt amendment as a way to let the Catholic Church off the hook while saving face on his administrations earlier edict. Unfortunately, the Blunt amendment was defeated on a mostly partly line vote today so the Catholic Church’s reason to close it’s facilities remains intact.

What are we to make of all this?

Some pundits, including the esteemed Ed Morrissey believe this is a high stakes game of chicken and that in the end, Obama will blink. I don’t buy it. Let’s look at the implications of the various actions I’ve previously noted.

When I looked at the premiums being charge for the high cost fund I noted that my family of 4 would be covered for about $800 per month. That may seem like a lot. However, for similar coverage from the high cost fund when we lived in Minnesota, we were paying nearly $1,500/month and that was two years ago. My point is that not only is the Obamacare high cost fund costing a lot more than it’s counterparts, it is also charging a lot less than its state counterparts. Last I looked, high costs and low revenue didn’t make a successful business. The outcome, if this is allowed to continue, is that insurance companies will be saddled with higher costs and lower revenues. This, over time, will force weaker insurance companies out of the business. Fewer insurance companies will lead to fewer choices which in turn, will lead to higher insurance costs.

I don’t think Obama will blink for the Catholic Church. As I noted earlier, he had the perfect opportunity to get a way out via the Blunt amendment. The amendment would have allowed church organizations to object and not provide certain coverages but would have required all other businesses to continue to provide whatever mandate Obama Inc. came up with. The tell for me is that this was voted down on nearly a party line vote. There are numerous Democrats in “swing” states who are up for election this year. There’s no way this is going to work in their favor. Had Obama wanted an out for the Catholic Church, there is no doubt in my mind that Harry Reid would have allowed just enough Democrats to vote for the amendment and “grudgingly” allowed it to pass. The fact that it didn’t means Obama is playing for keeps.

Finally, the Catholic Church threat. According to Morrissey, nearly 16% of admissions are served by Catholic hospitals. Nearly a third of those hospitals are in lesser served rural areas. If the Church does indeed pull their hospitals and other organizations, it will create a health care shortage of significant proportions in many areas of the U.S..

Contrary to the notion that Obama will blink, I think Obama is setting up exactly what he wants in health care.

If insurance costs skyrocket due to fewer providers and higher costs and access to care becomes scarcer due to a boycott by the Catholic Church, Obama, should he win a second election, will have the perfect pretense to declare a crisis and push, declare, impose or legislate for a national health care, single payer system…which is what he has wanted all along.

I will admit that it is possible that I’m wrong but I haven’t been wrong about much with this President. If I’m wrong, look for one of the following things to occur:

1. The Blunt amendment is brought back (it was tabled) and narrowly passes.
2. The Supreme Court rules that the health care mandate is unconstitutional before the election.

Any of these things could indicate that Obama won’t or isn’t able to eat the entire loaf. However, I don’t think either of these will happen. Rather, I think that Obama has planned this approach and as the Catholic Church threatened, if you listen closely you will hear Obama saying, “Thank you, Thank you very much!”

Four years of a Medicare Funding Warning, zero years of Obama action

by @ 12:04. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, fired off a letter to the White House in the wake of the fourth consecutive year of the Obama Administration’s decision to not address the now-current funding crisis of Medicare in violation of law. From the press release announcing the letter:

“Within fifteen days of presenting his budget plan, the President is required by law to send a legislative proposal to Congress to address Medicare’s looming insolvency. For four straight years, this ‘Medicare trigger’ has been issued. And for four straight years, President Obama has ignored the alarm and fled his post. America’s debt, as measured by the International Monetary Fund, is now worse than Greece on a per-capita basis. The course President Obama has laid out leads to fiscal ruin. His budget plan raises taxes by $2 trillion, increases the debt by $11 trillion, and increases spending by $1.6 trillion.

“The President’s unserious approach to Medicare will have serious consequences for seniors. President Obama continues to ignore his legal and moral obligations to protect the health security of America’s seniors. While he refuses to advance credible solutions to strengthen Medicare, the President’s health-care law does great harm to this critical program – raiding Medicare by over $500 billion to fund a new open-ended entitlement, while leaving the fate of seniors’ care to a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in Washington. There is a growing bipartisan consensus on how best to preserve the Medicare guarantee, but the President won’t join this discussion. The President is required by law to respond to the Medicare Trustees’ annual warning, and – as a matter of fundamental leadership – is duty-bound to do so.

“Meanwhile, the Democratic leaders in the Senate refuse to bring a budget plan to the floor for the third straight year. The livelihoods, savings and futures of millions of hardworking Americans are at stake, but the President and his party’s leaders can’t even be bothered to fulfill their most basic obligations in a time of crisis.”

A bit of background is in order – as part of the creation of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, a reqirement was put into place requriring, if the Medicare trustees find in two consecutive years that general funds, be they interest on the Treasury securities held by three “Trust Fund” accounts held by Medicare, redemptions of same, or other “general fund” revenues, do, or will within 6 fiscal years, comprise more than 45% of total Medicare outlays (or once the Hospital Insurance Fund was depleted, the “dedicated” funds are less than 55% of total obligations whether fulfilled or unfulfilled), the President to submit to Congress legislation to deal with said excessive general funding within 15 days of submitting the following year’s budget.

The first year the trustees found that situation becoming a probability based on the “intermediate-case” scenario was 2006, with FY2012 projected to require more than 45% of Medicare’s outlays come from the general fund. This imbalance was projected to arrive despite a pending reduction of physician reimbursement fees that had been called for since the prior decade and postponed every time since because of fears doctors would flee the Medicare program if the reductions were to happen (the postponement is known as the “doc fix”). Each time the “doc fix” was extended, the pain that would be caused if it was not extended yet again grew.

The 2007 Trustees’ Report, while it pushed off the year of reckoning to FY2013, triggered the “Medicare funding warning” as it was still within the 7-year scope of the trigger and the second consecutive finding. Accordingly, President Bush had Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt submit in February 2008, just after he submitted the FY2009 budget, what became H.R. 5480 and S. 2662. Those two bills were promptly buried in committee by the Democrats running both Houses of Congress.

The 2008 Trustees’ Report once again pushed off the year of reckoning to FY2014, which was once again at the very end of the 7-year scope of the trigger. President Obama chose not to submit any legislation despite his party controlling both Houses. Instead, we got PlaceboCare at the beginning of 2010, while the 2009 Trustees’ Report, breaking with the postponement history, once again put the year of reckoning as FY2014.

Fresh from his victory on PlaceboCare, Obama failed to address the immediate problem, and much like the “unanticipated” rapid decline of the Social Security “Trust Funds”, the state of the Medicare “Trust Funds” also declined very rapidly. The 2010 Trustees’ Report found that the year of reckoning had come that fiscal year, as general revenues were set to comprise more than 45% of the total Medicare expenditures in FY2010, with a projected temporary return to general funds needing to cover less than 45% of expenditures in FY2012. Instead of addressing this in early 2011, Obama and Congress once again extended the “doc fix” a bunch of times, which by that point represented a significant “overrun” versus budget.

Tired of waiting for any sign of leadership from the White House out of a very-predictable fiscal crisis, the House Budget Committee included a version of Medicare reform first outlined in Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America. While it would not have stopped the warning in the 2011 Trustees’ Report as FY2011 was more than half over, it would have put the program on the path to no longer triggering said warnings and ultimately long-term solvency while permanently implementing the “doc fix”. Unfortunately, just as the 2008 legislation designed to address what was then a future funding problem in Medicare, that budget was buried by the Democrats in the Senate as part of their three-year-long refusal to pass any budget, and because the only action on Medicare was continued extensions of the “doc fix”, general revenues comprised more than 45% of expenditures in FY2011 and FY2012.

Speaking of that 2011 Trustees’ Report, it pushed back the return to temporary overall Medicare stability to FY2013. Once again, instead of addressing the problem, Obama and Congress extended the “doc fix”, making it all but certain that for the fourth consecutive year and probably a fifth with no corrective action, general revenues will comprise more than 45% of Medicare expenditures.

The House Budget Committee will once again attempt to reform Medicare along the lines of a premium-support program. This time, there is some support from the other side of the aisle, even if that support won’t be too public until after November and then only if there is a change in the White House, Senate, or both.

February 12, 2012

Peek-A-Boo America!

As the battle between President Obama and the Catholic Church continued, President Obama attempted to diffuse the growing angst with something he classified as a “compromise.” The compromise from the White House’s fact sheet:

Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.

Wow, that’s great! Religious organizations no longer have to pay for insurance that provides for contraceptive coverage! How magnanimous on the part of the President! In fact, the President who would be King, has fixed the problem by decreeing that all insurance companies must provide said contraceptive coverage in the plans offered to these religious institutions for FREE!

o Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.

If I’m reading this right, Obama believes that the issue the Catholic Church had, was paying for the cost of contraception. I’m not Catholic but I do understand a fair amount of their doctrine. I’m pretty sure that the Church didn’t have a proviso that allowed for contraception if you could get someone else to pay for it! In fact, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have already called out Obama for his ruse that he claims is a “compromise:”

And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

Beyond the theological issue, I’m having a tough time figuring out how exactly, Obama believes that forcing the insurance companies to provide something “for free” does not result in having the insurer pay for it? Does Obama really believe that by simply saying “it is free” that it actually is free? I’ve been a Southerner for nearly two years now. However, unless they’ve rewritten the rules of economics in that time, the only thing Obama’s mandate has done is shift costs and increase the costs for all of our insurance to pay for the contraceptive services for those who get it for “free”. In fact, some accounts have the costs for this “free contraception” as high as $2.8B, a portion of which will now be shared by all 60+ year old women and all males. Speaking of which, if we’re all so concerned about making sure contraception is free, where are my coupons for condoms?

Peek-A-Boo is a game played with young children. We’ve all likely played it at some time. In Peek-A-Boo we play on the young child’s lack of understanding about reality. We attempt to convince them that when we cover our eyes, we somehow disappear even though the child can still see us. it’s a game that loses it’s cuteness as the child grows to understand that reality is reality and that words or claims that reality isn’t so, doesn’t change reality.

Obama’s contraception “compromise” is in the end, nothing more than a game of Peek-A-Boo with the American public. Obama makes claims about insurance economics that simply are not born out by reality. Of course, you would have to have matured beyond the economic age of two to actually realize such a thing. An economic age that most on the left never approach, let alone grow beyond.

Peek-A-Boo seems so innocuous with toddlers, and it is. However, as adults, Peek-A-Boo is escapism and an inability to deal with the world in real terms. Unfortunately, it is this very game of Peek-A-Boo that most in DC would use to tell us that: Massive Deficits aren’t a problem, Every increasing debt isn’t a problem, growing numbers of people on the government dole is not a problem, fewer and fewer actual tax payers aren’t a problem, Iran isn’t a problem, increasing costs of energy aren’t a problem and 8+% unemployment is the new norm. To those people who want to continue to play Peek-A-Boo rather than solve problems I say:

“I see you!”

September 27, 2011

The opposite of PlaceboCare

by @ 19:30. Filed under Health Care Reform.

Those of you who have been paying attention to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, and my Congressman) know the main parts of his ideas on health care. At the Hoover Institute today, he added a new twist – a full shift of the tax credits from the employer to the employees. You can read the speech or listen to it and a question-and-answer session…

I’ll give some highlights, along with the obligatory commentary:

Today, I will attempt to make the case for optimism. Specifically, I come bearing three pieces of good news.

The first piece of good news is this: The urgent need to repeal and replace the President’s health-care law, coupled with the urgent need to deal with the drivers of our debt, will present us with an unavoidable time for choosing, allowing us to confront health-care inflation head-on.

Ryan isn’t counting on the Supreme Court using the lack of severability in PlaceboCare to overturn the entirety of it by finding the individual insurance mandate unconstitutional, even though it is likely the Supreme Court will decide on that in the next 9 months (hmmm, what else in the health care field takes 9 months?). Instead, he’s not letting this crisis go to waste.

…And yet, across the federal landscape, choice and competition are undermined by poorly designed programs and tax policies.

In Medicare, the government reimburses all providers of care according to a one-size-fits-all formula, even if the quality of the care they provide is poor and the cost is high. This top-down delivery system exacerbates waste, because none of the primary stakeholders has a strong incentive to deliver the best-quality care for the lowest cost.

If you’re using Medicare, good luck finding a doctor because of this.

In Medicaid, a flawed federal-state matching formula is blowing out state budgets. There is no limit on the federal government’s matching contributions to state spending, so state governments spend most of their energy devising ways to maximize how much they can get from the federal government, rather than focusing on delivering high quality, cost-effective coverage for their most vulnerable citizens.

A prime example is former governor Jim “Craps” Doyle’s (WEAC/HoChunk-For Sale) increase in the hospital bed tax. It was sold as allowing Wisconsin to suck more money out of the federal teat.

Beyond these two programs, our current tax code provides additional fuel for runway health care inflation. Under current law, employer-sponsored health insurance plans are entirely exempt from taxation, regardless of how much an individual contributes to their policy.

This tilts the compensation scale toward benefits, which are tax-free, and away from higher wages, which are taxable. It also provides ways for high-income earners to artificially reduce their tax-able income by purchasing high-cost health coverage – which in turn can fuel the overuse of health services.

There’s countless examples of people taking and hangong onto jobs they don’t really want, or not taking jobs they’re suited for, just because of the presence of or lack of employer-sponsored health insurance. Elsewhere in the speech, Ryan pointed out the current scheme of insurance decouples the amount visibly paid to the proviers from the actual cost.

February 3, 2011

JB – “PlaceboCare’s dead, Jim”

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen didn’t mince any words when discussing the effect of the ruling from federal Judge Roger Vinson declaring PlaceboCare unconstitutional. As quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal:

“For Wisconsin, the federal health care law is dead — unless and until it is revived by an appellate court,” Van Hollen said in a statement this week. “Effectively, Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health care law.”

Of course, in the absence of an injunction, that depends on the feds actually listening to the courts. Unlike Judge Vinson, I’m not at all confident the gang occupying the Executive Branch are willing to do that.

January 5, 2011

Was That a Tingle I Just Felt?

On Monday, Harry Reid and some of his bestest Senate comrades, sent a letter to new House Speaker John Boehner.  In it, they warned him against proceeding with any action that would attempt to repeal Placebocare.  Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the House will vote January 12th, on a bill to repeal Placebocare in its entirety.

An aside:

I have had strong reservations about Boehner.  What I have seen from him in the past has me concerned that he talks a tough game but that in the end, he works the “let’s all get along” deals that move this country on a continual path left.  That said, while I live in Kentucky now, call me from Missouri.  I’m willing to give Boehner the benefit of the doubt and see where his actions lead.  Along with “from Missouri”, I guess you could say I’ll be “doing the Reagan” as I trust but verify.

Yesterday, in response to Harry Reid’s letter to him, Boehner sent the following response:

Senators Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Murray and Stabenow:

Thank you for reminding us – and the American people – of the backroom deal that you struck behind closed doors with ‘Big Pharma,’ resulting in bigger profits for the drug companies, and higher prescription drug costs for 33 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D, at a cost to the taxpayers of $42.6 billion.

The House is going to pass legislation to repeal that now. You’re welcome.

- Speaker-Designate John Boehner’s Press Office

I’m not the type that has physical responses to events but, I could have sworn I just had a tingle run up my leg!

December 31, 2010

Was PlaceboCare designed by the POR team or Henry Ford?

I’m actually beginning to think Henry Ford offered more options on the Model T than PlaceboCare does. George Scoville lists just some of the items that, as of tomorrow, will no longer be able to be purchased with Health Savings Account money without a prescription:

  • Acid controllers
  • Acne medicine
  • Aids for indigestion
  • Allergy and sinus medicine
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Baby rash ointment
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Eye drops
  • Feminine anti-fungal or anti-itch products
  • Hemorrhoid treatment
  • Laxatives or stool softeners
  • Lice treatments
  • Motion sickness medicines
  • Nasal sprays or drops
  • Ointments for cuts, burns or rashes
  • Pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen

“Strangely” enough, birth control, reading glasses (of course, Congress can’t read, so it won’t help them) and contact lens solutions can still be bought over-the-counter with HSA money.

December 27, 2010

They told me if…PlaceboCare Death Panel edition

by @ 13:52. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

(H/T – Ed Morrissey)

Shortly after the mandatory every-5-year “Just die already” speech was stripped from PlaceboCare because of the backlash led by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the New York Times reports that, not only did the Obama administration slip it back in administratively via the same mechanism that forces every state to have drinking age of 21 and primary enforcement of mandatory seat belt laws (the dangling of money), but that instead of getting the speech every five years, you’ll get it annually.

Jimmie Bise has a lot more wrapup, while WISN-AM’s Mark Belling, filling in for Rush Limbaugh, has been hammering home the fact that, even though it is officially even more “voluntary” as said federal drinking age, it is as much a mandate. There is no distinction between offering extra money to force a decision and withholding money to force said decision.

Remember when Teh Won said that doctors took out tonsils for profit? They told me, if I voted for Palin, doctors would profit from telling me to die. AND THEY WERE RIGHT!

Update by Shoebox:

The Death Panels are only half of the story. In the past week, Sebelius and her pack of flying monkeys have also issued rules (all as part of Placebocare), that requires any insurance company who dares raise rates more than 10%, to face a health care inquisition.

Now, it’s clear that no one in the Obama abomination administration has any economic training.  If they did, they would recognize that there is a very bright light heading towards them from the opposite end of the tunnel and it’s not the end of the tunnel. 

Econ 101, whether macro or micro, will tell you that if you remove the ability for prices to reflect increasing costs, the result is a restriction on the amount of the service or good offered.  If you doubt this, simply look at any attempt to set prices and you will note that in time, the good or service for which the price is artificially set, either becomes so poor in quality (an attempt to reduce the costs) or has severe shortages in the amount offered so as not to any longer resemble the original product or service.  I wonder which, poor quality or less availability, the Obama administration is targeting under Placebocare?

So, to sum it all up, under Placebocare we have people “counseling” about how to end your life without any of the “expensive” treatments.  And, you have a limit on the amount of premium increases.  Sounds like those two go hand in hand don’t you think?

December 7, 2010

Doing the Wave!

by @ 19:34. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Jamie Dupree is reporting that the waivers from provisions of Placebocare continue to roll up on shore.

The Obama Administration has quietly granted even more waivers to one provision of the new federal health reform law, doubling the number in just the last three weeks to a new total of 222.

Amongst the new grantees are Waffle House and Universal Orlando.

These new grantees bring a particularly poignant irony to the debate over the merits of Placebocare.

In the case of both Waffle House and Universal Orlando, the companies were providing “mini-med” insurance policies. These policies cover medical conditions similar to how other major medical plans provide coverage. They differ from traditional plans in that they have an annual maximum that is typically much lower than a traditional plan. By providing a lower maximum payout, insurance companies are able to mitigate risk they would have on these plans. If they have less risk, it costs them less to provide the coverage. If it costs them less, they are able to charge lower premiums.

If you remember, among the various reasons we were told that Placebocare was required was that there were many, many people who didn’t have insurance and that market forces were unable to provide for these people. In the case of both Waffle House and Universal Orlando (as well as other companies like McDonald’s) they were providing insurance options for people who traditionally have few insurance options; part time workers. However, Placebocare, in its attempt to force compliance on all, mandates that insurance policies can no longer have any annual or lifetime caps on coverage. The result is that without the exemption, companies like Waffle House and Universal Orlando would no longer be able to offer their current coverage which would mean that their employees would have no coverage at all.

Oh, those mean employers! I mean, who would want a policy that has a smaller annual cap? Who wouldn’t want a cadillac plan? Young, part time workers, that’s who. Think about it. Young people are typically the healthiest amongst us. They don’t tend to get major major illnesses which are what drive the high annual or lifetime caps. However, being young and especially if they are part time workers, even a single medical issue like a broken bone, could cause them severe financial challenges. In the competitive world of labor, Waffle House, Universal Orlando, McDonalds and others saw this need and in order to obtain and maintain quality talent, found a market based solution to solve the problem. A market based solution that would no longer exist without the waiver and will no longer exist after the year waiver is up!

Hey, wait. I thought we could keep our coverage if we liked it?

October 7, 2010

Clinton lawgiver-in-black – PlaceboCare, Communism mandated by the Constitution

(H/Ts – Allahpundit and Philip Klein)

Lawgiver-In-Black George Steeh, Michigan Eastern District judge appointed by Bill Clinton, ruled that any and every Congressional regulation of any economic decision that just might affect an aspect of interstate commerce that Congress decides to regulate is “Constitutional” under the Commerce Clause. Yes, you read that right – if Congress were so inclined, it can order you to buy a new Government Motors vehicle (and even tell you precisely which vehicle and which options) every three years.

FUCK THEM!

Hope and Change

by @ 19:29. Filed under Health Care Reform.

In just the past week, the following articles have surfaced:
McDonald’s May Drop Health Plan
3M Eliminates Medicare-Eligible Coverage Beginning in 2013
Gee, Thanks, Mr. President
21,000 Iowans to lose Medicare plans

I thought Placebocare was specifically set up so that you, me, all these people, could keep their insurance plans? Where is all of the insurance plan keeping? Oh, here it is….

30 Companies, Other Groups Escape New Health Care Rule for Now

Hope and Change? Nope. Placebocare is nothing but blind ignorance and more “rules are meant for the little people” attitude from Washington!

October 5, 2010

Poof, You’re a Physician – Update

by @ 20:32. Filed under Health Care Reform.

It looks like the fact that rationing will be the result of the implementation of Placebocare is getting more attention and more supportive statistics:

Doc Shortage to Worsen After Healthcare Reform

From the article:

By 2015 — one year after the majority of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have taken effect — the nation will be short 63,000 physicians, a figure that includes both primary care doctors and specialists. Previous estimates put the shortage at 39,600.

Note that the study now shows a shortage of 63K physicians which is nearly double a previous study. The study goes on to state the obvious implication:

“Unless Congress supports at least a 15% increase in residency training slots (adding another 4,000 physicians a year to the pipeline), access to health care will be out of reach for many Americans,” the group said in its press release.

The problem will be most pronounced for people living in rural and underserved areas where finding a doctor can already be a difficult task, according to the report.

What will happen in areas where there aren’t enough physicians? Why of course, people won’t get their health care. But wait, Placebocare was supposed to provide the utopia of health care for all. Nope, just one more example of the fallacy of the “government can provide everything without implications crowd.”

What’s the most concerning part of this problem? That would be that this study is still understating the problem by about half. If you look at the numbers I showed you here, we will need approximately 144,000 additional physicians on the day Placebocare is enacted in order to maintain the same physician/patient ratio as today. The problem with even that number is that it doesn’t take into account physicians who choose not to continue in their profession or the increase visits driven by the fact that Placebocare, and health care in general, will now become free for a significantly larger portion of the US population.

Whether through death panels or the inability to access physician care due to a swamping demand of the system, Placebocare will create rationing of health care. Unless, of course, The One is able to point his magic wand and say “Poof, you’re a physician!”

September 23, 2010

Thurday Moron Hot Read – Ace’s “Waterloo: The Democrats Doomed Themselves With ObamaCare”

by @ 18:15. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Ace linked to four five articles explaining how PlaceboCare is proving to be essentially what Sen. Jim DeMint said it would (though, it’s more Pyrrhic than Waterloo). While the articles are worth reading themselves, the way Ace linked the five, and especially the way he closed, is classic AoSHQ Moron:

You.

Really.

Should’ve.

Listened.

You exercised raw political power without regard to our opinions, just to show you could. We’re stupid animals, you thought; these stupid animals will all fall in line when we tug on the leash hard enough.

No. And we’re not just tugging back. We’re going for your fucking throats.

You exercised raw political power.

Our turn, bitches.

July 13, 2010

Give us freedom in our health care, says…

by @ 10:05. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

(H/T – Breitbart via Michelle Moore)

…Great Britain.

It truly is amazing how as we descend to what the British have suffered through, they’re looking for ways to climb out of that hole.

June 21, 2010

Who Could Have Imagined This Coming?

by @ 19:41. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Two headlines from today’s news.

From the AP:
Borrowers exit troubled Obama mortgage program

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s flagship effort to help people in danger of losing their homes is falling flat.

But the punch lines come from the reasons stated:

Treasury officials now require banks to collect two recent pay stubs at the start of the process. Borrowers have to give the Internal Revenue Service permission to provide their most recent tax returns to lenders.

Requiring homeowners to provide documentation of income has turned people away from enrolling in the program. Around 30,000 homeowners started the program in May. That’s a sharp turnaround from last summer when more than 100,000 borrowers signed up each month.

Yeah, imagine that!  People should actually be able to show that they can afford the loans they commit themselves to!  This must be an evil vast Right wing plot against low or no income people!

How about this from USA Today:

Doctors limit new Medicare patients

WASHINGTON — The number of doctors refusing new Medicare patients because of low government payment rates is setting a new high, just six months before millions of Baby Boomers begin enrolling in the government health care program.

But you have to love this quote from a Politico story about the Doc fix spat:

“This is no way to run a major health coverage program – already the instability caused by repeated short-term delays is taking its toll,” said AMA president Cecil B. Wilson. “Congress has finally taken its game of brinkmanship too far, as the steep 21 percent cut is now in effect and physicians will be forced to make difficult practice changes to keep their practice doors open.”

Ah, yeah.  That’s the same AMA that vigorously supported both the House and Senate versions of Placebocare, the final version accomplishing a “balance budget” by eliminating the perpetual doc fix!

Or this:

“I have never seen physicians more frustrated with the cuts and cynical about Congress’ willingness or ability to do the right thing for patient access,” said Bob Doherty, a senior vice president at the American College of Physicians. A short-term repair “will confirm the growing sentiment among doctors and seniors that Medicare is an unreliable and unstable partner that can’t be counted on to pay its bills, and more of them accordingly will limit how many Medicare patients and seniors they can afford to see.”
Yup, there again, the ACP was a supporter of Placebocare.
Hypocrisy, they name is thee whose particular Ox is being gored!

June 17, 2010

The IRS being placed in charge of PlaceboCare was no accident

Philip Klein explains over at The American Spectator the strategy the Obama adminstration is using to try to short-circuit challenges to PlaceboCare (emphasis added):

Late last night, the Obama Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the Florida-based lawsuit against the health care law, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction and that the State of Florida and fellow plaintiffs haven’t presented a claim for which the court can grant relief. To bolster its case, the DOJ cited the Anti-Injunction Act, which restricts courts from interfering with the government’s ability to collect taxes.

The Act, according to a DOJ memo supporting the motion to dismiss, says that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.” The memo goes on to say that it makes no difference whether the disputed payment it is called a “tax” or “penalty,” because either way, it’s “assessed and collected in the same manner” by the Internal Revenue Service.

Klein goes on to explain how that is a violation of both his claims that it isn’t a tax and his his campaign pledge to not raise taxes by “one dime” on those making less than $250,000 (later lowered to $200,000 if one is single, with the $250,000 supposedly still applying to those who are married).

May 6, 2010

Boy, This is Getting Old!

by @ 14:07. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

I told you so.

I told you so!

I TOLD YOU SO!

Remember back a few weeks when Henry Waxman had gotten all balled up that AT&T, Verizon and a few others had filed SEC documents noting substantial earnings hits due to the passage of Placebocare?

Remember a few days short of a few weeks ago when Henry became annoyed and called the previously mentioned companies in to testify before Congress because he was sure that their filings were in violation of something that Henry held sacred?

Remember a few days closer to now when Henry cancelled the hearings and claimed that the previously mentioned companies had requested the cancellation because they had come to their senses and were willing to no further impugn Henry’s ability to understand the law he voted for?

Remember after that, when I said this:

But, let me ask you this; which of the following two scenarios do you think is most likely?

Scenario A: Companies who paid a bunch of money to consultants and attorneys for the purpose of understanding placebocare. After getting information that said “bleed red ink NOW”, have now come to the conclusion that they really have no conclusion about the future costs of health care and they’re willing to give Congress the benefit of the doubt on Placebocare?

Or

Scenario B: Henry Waxman had no idea what actually is in Placebocare. After getting his bald head pulled tighter than a pair of lycra pants on Michael Moore, he launched his hearings to make sure people didn’t think Democrats were fools. However, following scalp relaxation therapy, Henry learned that not only were the SEC filings proper, they were required by law. Henry also was told that hearings would only serve the purpose of removing any question that the Democrats had/have no idea what is in Placebocare nor the implications of it on the American people and businesses. Henry, wanting no further embarrassment, decided the cancel the hearings.

Yeah, me too!

OK, well, now read this:

Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill’s critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.

The announcements greatly annoyed Representative Henry Waxman, who accused the companies of using the big numbers to exaggerate health care reform’s burden on employers. Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, demanded that they turn over their confidential memos, and summoned their top executives for hearings.

But Waxman didn’t simply request documents related to the write down issue. He wanted every document the companies created that discussed what the bill would do to their most uncontrollable expense: healthcare costs.

The request yielded 1,100 pages of documents from four major employers: AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar and Deere (DE, Fortune 500). No sooner did the Democrats on the Energy Committee read them than they abruptly cancelled the hearings. On April 14, the Committee’s majority staff issued a memo stating that the write downs were “proper and in accordance with SEC rules.” The committee also stated that the memos took a generally sunny view of the new legislation. The documents, said the Democrats’ memo, show that “the overall impact of health reform on large employers could be beneficial.”

Don’t doubt me! I know politicians like I know every succulent tongue tingle of a Tanqueray martini, up, with olives!

‘Nuff said!

April 15, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Hearings

Right after the signing of Placebocare, several prominent companies including AT&T, Caterpillar and Verizon, noted that they were taking significant financial charges to recognize the new costs imposed by the impostor reform bill. Democrats took offense at the notion that laws that they so vigorously support i.e. Placebocare and SEC full disclosure rules, along with their own ignorance, had set themselves up to be shown as fools. Their solution? Call hearings to discredit and badger the companies giving them the black eye.

Yesterday, we hear that Henry Waxman has decided to cancel the hearings that would have had the previously mentioned companies explain themselves to Congress. Ostensibly, the cancellation was at the request of several of the companies slated to testify. According to Waxman:

“Companies like AT&T, Verizon, and a range of stakeholder associations are hopeful that the benefits of the new law will outweigh the costs,” Waxman stated.

Yeah, I guess that could have happened.  But, let me ask you this; which of the following two scenarios do you think is most likely?

Scenario A:   Companies who paid a bunch of money to consultants and attorneys for the purpose of understanding placebocare.  After getting information that said “bleed red ink NOW”, have now come to the conclusion that they really have no conclusion about the future costs of health care and they’re willing to give Congress the benefit of the doubt on Placebocare?

Or

Scenario B:  Henry Waxman had no idea what actually is in Placebocare.  After getting his bald head pulled tighter than a pair of lycra pants on Michael Moore, he launched his hearings to make sure people didn’t think Democrats were fools.  However, following scalp relaxation therapy, Henry learned that not only were the SEC filings proper, they were required by law.  Henry also was told that hearings would only serve the purpose of removing any question that the Democrats had/have no idea what is in Placebocare nor the implications of it on the American people and businesses.  Henry, wanting no further embarrassment, decided the cancel the hearings.

Yeah, me too!

March 23, 2010

Tuesday Hot Read – The Republican Party of Dane County “apologizes”

Lance Burri thoughtfully reposted an e-mail from the Republican Party of Dane County (for those of you outside Wisconsin, that would be the county with Madison as its county seat):

Republican Party of Dane County Apologizes For Its Opposition To Obamacare

We at the Republican Party of Dane County would like to publicly apologize for opposing the Obamacare health care bill. We have now seen the light and support it. There are a few reasons for our change of heart:

The Democrats are correct that the health insurance companies don’t make enough money. Obamacare will be the largest transfer of wealth to the health insurance industry in history. The Democrats are also correct that our budget deficit isn’t large enough. Moody’s has warned that passing this bill will likely cost the United States its AAA bond rating – and we agree with the Democrats in saying “good riddance!”

The Democrats are correct that it’s ridiculous that all Americans now have access to health care. Obamacare will dramatically decrease the number of doctors, and will dramatically decrease the amount of medical innovation in this nation. Who needs new cancer drugs anyway? More than 6% of United Kingdom citizens have reported pulling out their own teeth because they can’t get access to a dentist, despite “universal” health care. That’s the spirit!

Finally, we agree with Democrats that the electoral chances of the Democratic Party in 2010 are far more important than whether a new unfunded entitlement system that we’ll be stuck with forever is good for this nation. They have argued incessantly that even Democratic congressmen who hate the bill should vote for it because of the electoral consequences in 2010 and 2012. Absolutely!

So we applaud the Democratic Party. It takes a great amount of courage to simultaneously put aside the US Constitution, the laws of economics, the negative effects of a bill on the quality of health care in this nation, and the will of the people. Open the fridge and crack open a cold one, Democrats. You’ve earned it!

While you can put all the Republicans who actually live in Dane County in a phone booth, they sometimes do come up with a real winner.

March 22, 2010

Pay No Attention to That Flashing Red Light

From Bloomberg:

Obama Paying More Than Buffett as Bonds Show U.S. Losing AAA

Yup, in short order, we the American taxpayer are paying more than Warren Buffet and his green companies for debt.  Hell, we’re even paying more now than the Germans!

Haven’t the debt markets heard that the deficit problem has been solved?  Yeah, you see, we’re going to pay for 30 million more people to have all the health coverage they want, none of them will pay a dime for it and yet it won’t cost the government an extra nickle.  In fact, they’ve got this health thing so figured out that by paying for more people, we’re actually going to save money as a nation!

OK, to be fair, the article does say that part of the reason that the corporate debt yield is lower than the Treasury is that high credit companies don’t seem to be borrowing as much anymore.  Huh, why do you suppose that is?  Do they know something the Federal Government doesn’t?  Yeah, probably one thing; any money they borrow they’ll eventually have to pay back without the ability to make wage slaves of their customers.

We’re so screwed!

March 19, 2010

They Put One of Yours in the Hospital…

You put one of theirs in the morgue.

March 17, 2010

Wednesday HOT read – Field v. Clark

Yes, there is a reason why I fully-capitalized “HOT” in the title. Once you’re done reading the portion of the opinion of the Supreme Court in Field v. Clark (courtesy Justia.com) dealing with a challenge regarding differences between an “enrolled” bill as signed by the President and the same bill as voted out of Congress, your blood will be boiling at the worst decision of SCOTUS ever, yes, even worse than the Dred Scott decision.

First, a bit of background. Yesterday, Mark Tapscott kicked over an anthill when he found that Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter are hypocrites when it comes to the Constitutional requirement that a bill that is presented to the President be voted on by both Houses in identical form. Ed Morrissey, among others, noted that the group Pelosi and Slaughter sided with in 2005 lost their challenge that the House passed a slightly-different (specifically, a two-character difference) version of a bill than the Senate, with the appellate court relying on Marshall.

That led me to the actual Marshall decision, and I note that, while there is a dissent-in-part, that dissent does not extend to this portion of the opinion of the Court. Rather than excerpt it, I’ll give you the entire section that deals with the differences between the “enrolled” and “voted upon” versions of the bill in question, starting at 143 U.S. 662:

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Duties were assessed and collected, according to the rates established by what is known as the “Tariff Act of October 1, 1890,” on woolen dress goods, woolen wearing apparel, and silk embroideries, imported by Marshall Field & Co., on silk and cotton laces imported by Boyd, Sutton & Co., and on colored cotton cloths imported by Herman, Sternbach & Co. 26 Stat. 567, c. 1244, § 1.

The importers severally protested against the assessment upon the ground that the act was not a law of the United States. Upon appeal to the Board of General Appraisers under the Act of June 10, 1890, known as the “Customs Administrative Act,” the decision of the collector in each case was approved, c. 407, secs. 14, 15, pp. 131, 137. The judgment of the board having been affirmed by the circuit courts of the United States in the respective districts in which these matters arose, the cases have been brought here for review.
The appellants question the validity of the Act of October 1, 1890, upon three grounds, to be separately examined.

First. The seventh section of Article I of the Constitution of the United States provides:

“All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills. Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if the approve, he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and, if approved by two-thirds of that house, it shall become a law. But in all such cases, the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each house, respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.”

“Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States, and, before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or, being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two-thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.”
The Revised Statutes provide that

“Whenever a bill, order, resolution, or vote of the Senate and House of Representatives, having been approved by the President or not having been returned by him with his objections, becomes a law or takes effect, it shall forthwith be received by the Secretary of State from the President, and whenever a bill, order, resolution, or vote is returned by the President with his objections, and, on being reconsidered, is agreed to be passed, and is approved by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, and thereby becomes a law or takes effect, it shall be received by the Secretary of State from the President of the Senate, or Speaker of the House of Representatives, in whichsoever house it shall last have been so approved, and he shall carefully preserve the originals.”

The original enrolled act in question, designated on its face “H.R. 9416,” was received at the Department of State October 1, 1890, and, when so received, was attested by the signatures of Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Levi P. Morton, Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate, and had thereon these endorsements:

“Approved October 1, 1890 BENJ. HARRISON”

“I certify that this act originated in the House of Representatives.”

“EDW. MCPHERSON, Clerk

It is made the duty of the Secretary of State to furnish to the congressional printer

“a correct copy of every act and joint resolution as soon as possible after its approval by the President or after it has become a law, in accordance with the Constitution, without such approval.”
That duty was performed by the Secretary of State with respect to the act in question, and the act appears in the volume of statutes published and distributed under the authority of the United States. Rev.Stat. §§ 210, 3803, 3805, 3807, 3808.

The contention of the appellants is that this enrolled act, in the custody of the Secretary of State and appearing upon its face, to have become a law in the mode prescribed by the Constitution, is to be deemed an absolute nullity in all its parts, because — such is the allegation — it is shown by the congressional records of proceedings, reports of committees of each house, reports of committees of conference, and other papers printed by authority of Congress, and having reference to House Bill 9416, that a section of the bill, as it finally passed, was not in the bill authenticated by the signatures of the presiding officers of the respective houses of Congress and approved by the President. The section alleged to have been omitted was as follows:

“SEC. 30. That on all original and unbroken factory packages of smoking and manufactured tobacco and snuff, held by manufacturers or dealers at the time the reduction herein provided for shall go into effect, upon which the tax has been paid, there shall be allowed a drawback or rebate of the full amount of the reduction, but the same shall not apply in any case where the claim has not been presented within sixty days following the date of reduction, and such rebate to manufacturers may be paid in stamps at the reduced rate, and no claim shall be allowed or drawback paid for a less amount than five dollars. It shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to adopt such rules and regulations, and to prescribe and furnish such blanks and forms, as may be necessary to carry this section into effect. For the payment of the rebates provided for in this section there is hereby appropriated any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.”

The argument, in behalf of the appellants, is that a bill, signed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and by the President of the Senate, presented to and approved by the President of the United States, and delivered by the latter to the Secretary of State, as an act passed by Congress, does not become a law of the United States if it had not in fact been passed by Congress. In view of the express requirements of the Constitution, the correctness of this general principle cannot be doubted. There is no authority in the presiding officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate to attest by their signatures, not in the President to approve, nor in the Secretary of State to receive and cause to be published, as a legislative act, any bill not passed by Congress.

But this concession of the correctness of the general principle for which the appellants contend does not determine the precise question before the Court, for it remains to inquire as to the nature of the evidence upon which a court may act when the issue is made as to whether a bill, originating in the House of Representatives or the Senate, and asserted to have become a law, was or was not passed by Congress. This question is now presented for the first time in this Court. It has received, as its importance required that it should receive, the most deliberate consideration. We recognize, on one hand, the duty of this Court, from the performance of which it may not shrink, to give full effect to the provisions of the Constitution relating to the enactment of laws that are to operate wherever the authority and jurisdiction of the United States extend. On the other hand, we cannot be unmindful of the consequences that must result if this Court should feel obliged, in fidelity to the Constitution, to declare that an enrolled bill, on which depend public and private interests of vast magnitude, and which has been authenticated by the signatures of the presiding officers of the two houses of Congress, and by the approval of the President, and been deposited in the public archives as an act of Congress, was not in fact passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and therefore did not become a law.

The clause of the Constitution upon which the appellants rest their contention that the act in question was never passed by Congress is the one declaring that

“Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, except such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy, and the yeas and nays of the members of either house on any question shall at the desire of one-fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.”

Article I, Section 5. It was assumed in argument that the object of this clause was to make the journal the best, if not conclusive, evidence upon the issue as to whether a bill was in fact passed by the two houses of Congress. But the words used do not require such interpretation. On the contrary, as Mr. Justice Story has well said,

“the object of the whole clause is to insure publicity to the proceedings of the legislature and a correspondent responsibility of the members to their respective constituents. And it is founded in sound policy and deep political foresight. Intrigue and cabal are thus deprived of some of their main resources by plotting and devising measures in secrecy. The public mind is enlightened by an attentive examination of the public measures; patriotism and integrity and wisdom obtain their due reward, and votes are ascertained, not by vague conjecture, but by positive facts. . . . So long as known and open responsibility is valuable as a check or an incentive among the representatives of a free people, so long a journal of their proceedings and their votes, published in the face of the world, will continue to enjoy public favor and be demanded by public opinion.”

2 Story on the Constitution §§ 840, 841.

In regard to certain matters, the Constitution expressly requires that they shall be entered on the journal. To what extent the validity of legislative action may be affected by the failure to have those matters entered on the journal we need not inquire. No such question is presented for determination. But it is clear that in respect to the particular mode in which, or with what fullness, shall be kept the proceedings of either house relating to matters not expressly required to be entered on the journals; whether bills, orders, resolutions, reports, and amendments shall be entered at large on the journal, or only referred to and designated by their titles or by numbers — these and like matters were left to the discretion of the respective houses of Congress. Nor does any clause of that instrument either expressly or by necessary implication prescribe the mode in which the fact of the original passage of a bill by the House of Representatives and the Senate shall be authenticated or preclude Congress from adopting any mode to that end which its wisdom suggests. Although the Constitution does not expressly require bills that have passed Congress to be attested by the signatures of the presiding officers of the two houses, usage, the orderly conduct of legislative proceedings, and the rules under which the two bodies have acted since the organization of the government require that mode of authentication.

The signing by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and by the President of the Senate, in open session, of an enrolled bill is an official attestation by the two houses of such bill as one that has passed Congress. It is a declaration by the two houses, through their presiding officers, to the President that a bill, thus attested, has received, in due form, the sanction of the legislative branch of the government and that it is delivered to him in obedience to the constitutional requirement that all bills which pass Congress shall be presented to him. And when a bill thus attested receives his approval and is deposited in the public archives, its authentication as a bill that has passed Congress should be deemed complete and unimpeachable. As the President has no authority to approve a bill not passed by Congress, an enrolled act in the custody of the Secretary of State, and having the official attestations of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, of the President of the Senate, and of the President of the United States carries on its face a solemn assurance by the legislative and executive departments of the government, charged, respectively, with the duty of enacting and executing the laws, that it was passed by Congress. The respect due to coequal and independent departments requires the judicial department to act upon that assurance, and to accept as having passed Congress all bills authenticated in the manner stated, leaving the courts to determine, when the question properly arises, whether the act so authenticated is in conformity with the Constitution.

It is admitted that an enrolled act thus authenticated is sufficient evidence of itself — nothing to the contrary appearing upon its face — that it passed Congress. But the contention is that it cannot be regarded as a law of the United States if the journal of either house fails to show that it passed in the precise form in which it was signed by the presiding officers of the two houses and approved by the President. It is said that under any other view, it becomes possible for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate to impose upon the people as a law a bill that was never passed by Congress. But this possibility is too remote to be seriously considered in the present inquiry. It suggests a deliberate conspiracy to which the presiding officers, the committees on enrolled bills, and the clerks of the two houses must necessarily be parties, all acting with a common purpose to defeat an expression of the popular will in the mode prescribed by the Constitution. Judicial action based upon such a suggestion is forbidden by the respect due to a coordinate branch of the government. The evils that may result from the recognition of the principle that an enrolled act in the custody of the Secretary of State, attested by the signatures of the presiding officers of the two houses of Congress and the approval of the President, is conclusive evidence that it was passed by Congress according to the forms of the Constitution would be far less than those that would certainly result from a rule making the validity of congressional enactments depend upon the manner in which the journals of the respective houses are kept by the subordinate officers charged with the duty of keeping them.

The views we have expressed are supported by numerous adjudications in this country, to some of which it is well to refer. In Pangborn v. Young, 32 N.J.Law 29, 37, the question arose as to the relative value as evidence of the passage of a bill of the journals of the respective houses of the legislature and the enrolled act, authenticated by the signatures of the speakers of the two houses and by the approval of the governor. The bill there in question, it was alleged, originated in the House and was amended in the Senate, but as presented to and approved by the governor did not contain all the amendments made in the Senate. Referring to the provision in the Constitution of New Jersey requiring each house of the legislature to keep a journal of its proceeding — which provision is in almost the same words as the above clause quoted from the federal Constitution — the court, speaking by Chief Justice Beasley, said that it was impossible for the mind not to incline to the opinion that the framers of the Constitution, in exacting the keeping of the journals, did not design to create records that were to be the ultimate and conclusive evidence of the conformity of legislative action to the constitutional provisions relating to the enactment of laws. In the nature of things, it was observed, these journals must have been constructed out of loose and hasty memoranda made in the pressure of business and amid the distractions of a numerous assembly. The Chief Justice said:

“Can anyone deny that if the laws of the state are to be tested by a comparison with these journals, so imperfect, so unauthenticated, that the stability of all written law will be shaken to its very foundation? Certainly no person can venture to say that many of our statutes, perhaps some of the oldest and most important, those which affect large classes of persons or on which great interests depend, will not be found defective, even in constitutional particulars, if judged by this criterion. . . . In addition to these considerations, in judging of consequences, we are to remember the danger, under the prevalence of such a doctrine, to be apprehended from the intentional corruption of evidences of this character. It is scarcely too much to say that the legal existence of almost every legisaltive act would be at the mercy of all persons having access to these journals, for it is obvious that any law can be invalidated by the interpolation of a few lines or the obliteration of one name and the substitution of another in its stead. I cannot consent to expose the state legislature to the hazards of such probable error or facile fraud. The doctrine contended for on the part of the evidence has no foundation, in my estimation, on any considerations of public policy.”

The conclusion was that, upon grounds of public policy as well as upon the ancient and well settled rules of law, a copy of a bill bearing the signatures of the presiding officers of the two houses of the legislature and the approval of the governor, and found in the custody of the Secretary of State, was conclusive proof of the enactment and contents of a statute, and could not be contradicted by the legislative journals or in any other mode. These principles were affirmed by the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals in Freeholders of Passaic v. Stevenson, 46 N.J.Law 173, 184, and in Standard Underground Co. v. Attorney General, 46 N.J.Eq. 270, 276.

In Sherman v. Story, 30 Cal. 253, 276, the whole subject was carefully considered. The court, speaking through Mr. Justice Sawyer, said:

“Better, far better, that a provision should occasionally find its way into the statute through mistake, or even fraud, than that every act, state and national, should at any and all times, be liable to be put in issue and impeached by the journals, loose papers of the legislature, and parol evidence. Such a state of uncertainty in the statute laws of the land would lead to mischiefs absolutely intolerable. . . . The result of the authorities in England and in the other states clearly is that at common law, whenever a general statute is misrecited, or its existence denied, the question is to tried and determined by the court as a question of law — that is to say, the court is bound to take notice of it and inform itself the best way it can; that there is no plea by which its existence can be put in issue and tried as a question of fact; that if the enrollment of the statute is in existence, the enrollment itself is the record, which is conclusive as to what the statute is, and cannot be impeached, destroyed, or weakened by the journals of Parliament or any other less authentic or less satisfactory memorials, and that there has been no departure from the principles in the United States except in instances where a departure has been grounded on, or taken in pursuance of, some express constitutional or statutory provision requiring some relaxation of the rule in order that full effect might be given to such provisions, and in such instances the rule has been relaxed by judges with great caution and hesitation, and the departure has never been extended beyond an inspection of the journals of both branches of the legislature.”

The provisions of the California Constitution, in force when the above case was decided relating to the journals of legislative proceedings, were substantially like the clause upon that subject in the Constitution of the United States. The doctrines of the above case were reaffirmed in People v. Burt, 43 Cal. 560. But it should be observed that at a subsequent date, a new Constitution was adopted in California under which the journals have been examined to impeach an enrolled bill. County of San Mateo v Southern Pacific Railroad Co., 13 F.7d 2.

A case very much in point is Ex Parte Wren, 63 Miss. 512, 527, 532. The validity of a certain act was there questioned on the ground that although signed by the presiding officers of the two houses of the legislature and approved by the governor, it was not law because it appeared from the journals of those bodies, kept in pursuance of the constitution, that the original bill, having passed the house, was sent to the senate, which passed it with numerous amendments, in all of which the house concurred, but the bill as approved by the governor did not contain certain amendments which bore directly upon the issues in the case before the court. The court, in a vigorous opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Campbell, held that the enrolled act, signed by the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives and the governor, is the sole exposition of its contents, and the conclusive evidence of its existence according to its purport, and that it is not allowable to look further to discover the history of the act or ascertain its provisions. After a careful analysis of the adjudged cases, the court said:

“Every other view subordinates the legislature and disregards that coequal position in our system of the three departments of government. If the validity of every act published as law is to be tested by examining its history, as shown by the journals of the two houses of the legislature, there will be an amount of litigation, difficulty, and painful uncertainty appalling in its contemplation, and multiplying a hundred-fold the alleged uncertainty of the law. Every suit before every court where the validity of a statute may be called in question as affecting the right of a litigant will be in the nature of an appeal or writ of error or bill of review for errors apparent on the face of the legislative records, and the journals must be explored to determine if some contradiction does not exist between the journals and the bill signed by the presiding officers of the two houses. Where the law is to be declared by the court, it must inform itself as best it can what is the law. If it may go beyond the enrolled and signed bill, and try its validity by the record contained in the journals, it must perform this task as often as called on, and every court must do it. A justice of the peace must do it, for he has as much right, and is as much bound, to preserve the Constitution and declare and apply the law as any other court, and we will have the spectacle of examination of journals by justices of the peace, and statutes declared to be not law as the result of their journalistic inquiry, and the circuit and chancery courts will be constantly engaged in like manner, and this court, on appeal, have often to try the correctness of the determination of the court below as to the conclusion to be drawn from the legislative journals on the inquiry as to the validity of the statutes thus tested. . . . Let the courts accept as statutes, duly enacted, such bills as are delivered by the legislature as their acts, authenticated as such in the prescribed mode.”

In Weeks v. Smith, 81 Me. 538, 547, it was said:

“Legislative journals are made amid the confusion of a dispatch of business, and therefore much more likely to contain errors than the certificates of the presiding officers to be untrue. Moreover, public policy requires that the enrolled statures of our state, fair upon their faces, should not be put in question after the public have given faith to their validity. No man should be required to hunt through the journals of a legislature to determine whether a statute, properly certified by the speaker of the house and the president of the senate and approved by the governor, is a statute or not. The enrolled act, if a public law, and the original, if a private act, have always been held in England to be records of the highest order, and, if they carry no ‘death wounds’ in themselves, to be absolute verity, and of themselves conclusive.”

To the same general effect are Brodnax v. Commissioners, 64 N.C. 244, 248; Nevada v. Swift, 10 Nev. 176; Evans v. Browne, 30 Ind. 514; Edger v. Randolph County Comm’rs, 70 Ind. 331, 338; Pacific Railroad v. Governor, 23 Mo. 353, 362, et seq.; Lottery Co. v. Richoux, 23 La.Ann. 743. There are cases in other state courts which proceed upon opposite grounds from those we have indicated as proper. But it will be found upon examination that many of them rested upon constitutional or statutory provisions of a peculiar character, which, expressly or by necessary implication, required or authorized the court to go behind the enrolled act when the question was whether the act, as authenticated and deposited in the proper office, was duly passed by the legislature. This is particularly the case in reference to the decisions in Illinois. Spangler v. Jacoby, 14 Ill, 297; Turley v. County of Logan, 17 Ill. 151; Prescott v. Canal Trustees, 19 Ill. 324; Supervisors v. People, 25 Ill. 181; Ryan v. Lynch, 68 Ill. 160; People v. Baranes, 35 Ill. 121. In the last-named case, it was said:

“Were it not for the somewhat peculiar provision of our constitution, which requires that all bills, before they can become laws, shall be read three several times in each house and shall be passed by a vote of a majority of all the members-elect, a bill thus signed an approved would be conclusive of its validity and binding force as a law. . . . According to the theory of our legislation, when a bill has become a law, there must be record evidence of every material requirement, from its introduction until it becomes a law. And this evidence is found upon the journals of the two houses.”

But the court added:

“We are not, however, prepared to say that a different rule might not have subserved the public interest equally well, leaving the legislature and the executive to guard the public interest in this regard, or to become responsible for its neglect.”

The case of @ 73 U. S. 511, was relied on in argument as supporting the contention of the appellants. The question there was as to the time when an act of Congress took effect, the doubt upon that point arising from the fact that the month and day, but not the year, of the approval of the act by the President appeared upon the enrolled act in the custody of the Department of State. This omission, it was held, could be supplied in support of the act from the legislative journals. It was said by the Court:

“We are of opinion, therefore, on principle as well as authority, that whenever a question arises in a court of law of the existence of a statute, or of the time when a statute took effect, or of the precise terms of a statute, the judges who are called upon to decide it have a right to resort to any source of information which in its nature is capable of conveying to the judicial mind a clear and satisfactory answer to such question, always seeking first for that which in its nature is most appropriate, unless the positive law has enacted a different rule.”

There was no question in that case as to the existence or terms of a statute, and the point in judgment was that the time when an admitted statute took effect, not appearing from the enrolled act, could be shown by the legislative journals. It is scarcely necessary to say that that case does not meet the question here presented.

Nor do the cases of South Ottawa v. Perkins, 94 U. S. 260; Walnut v. Wade, 103 U. S. 683, and Post v. Supervisors, 105 U. S. 667, proceed upon any ground inconsistent with the views we have expressed. In each of those cases, it was held that the question whether a seeming act of the legislature became a law in accordance with the Constitution was a judicial one, to be decided by the courts and judges, and not a question of fact to be tried by a jury, and without considering the question on principle, this Court held, in deference to the decisions of the Supreme Court of Illinois interpreting the constitution of that state, that it was competent for the court, in determining the validity of an enrolled act, to consult the legislative journals.

Some reliance was also placed by appellants upon section 895 of the Revised Statutes, providing that
“Extracts from the journals of the Senate, or of the House of Representatives, and of the executive journal of the Senate when the injunction of secrecy is removed, certified by the Secretary of the Senate or by the Clerk of the House of Representatives, shall be admitted as evidence in the courts of the United States, and shall have the same force and effect as the originals would have if produced and authenticated in court.”

But referring now only to matters which the Constitution does not require to be entered on the journals, it is clear that this is not a statutory declaration that the journals are the highest evidence of the facts stated in them, or complete evidence of all that occurs in the progress of business in the respective houses, much less that the authentication of an enrolled bill by the official signatures of the presiding officers of the two houses and of the President, as an act which has passed Congress and been approved by the President, may be overcome by what the journal of either house shows or fails to show.

We are of opinion, for the reasons stated, that it is not competent for the appellants to show, from the journals of either house, from the reports of committees, or from other documents printed by authority of Congress, that the enrolled bill, designated “H.R. 9416,” as finally passed, contained a section that does not appear in the enrolled act in the custody of the State Department.

Allow me to translate that for you – as of right now, the ONLY court-acceptable evidence that an “enrolled bill” actually passed Congress, or was even introduced into either House of Congress, is the signatures of the Speaker of the House and the Vice President (or presumably the Senate President Pro Tempore) on said “enrolled bill”. That’s right – a troka of the Speaker, Vice President and President have had the power to unilaterally enact law regardless of the other 534 members of Congress and indeed the Constitution for the last 118 years.

March 16, 2010

Give them an inch, they’ll take you a mile

Mark Tapscott has this morning’s episode of Rank Hypocrisy. Paraphrasing Mark:

  • In 2005, due to a transcription error by the Senate secretary on a single item, the House passed a debt-ceiling-raising bill that was slightly different than the version that passed the Senate. The Senate clerk, realizing the error after the House passed it, changed the item, presented it to the presiding officers, who both signed it and sent it to President Bush, who proceeded to sign it.
  • Public Citizen filed suit in an attempt to annul the law (ultimately unsuccessful), saying that it violated the requirement that identitcal version of a bill be passed by both Houses of Congress before it becomes law.
  • Joining Public Citizen with amicus briefs – Nancy Pelosi, Louise Slaughter and Henry Waxman.

Nothing more needs to be said.

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