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ObamaCare Loses In Court
The Wall Street Journal says that only a few months ago, the White House and its allies on the legal left dismissed the constitutional challenges to ObamaCare as frivolous, futile and politically motivated.  So much for that.  Yesterday, a federal district court judge in Virginia ruled that the health law breaches the Constitution's limits on government power.

In a careful 42-page ruling, Judge Henry Hudson declared that ObamaCare's core enforcement mechanism known as the individual mandate -- the regulation that requires everyone to purchase health insurance or else pay a penalty -- exceeds Congress's authority to regulate the lives of Americans.

"The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision [the individual mandate] would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers," Judge Hudson writes.  "At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance -- or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage -- it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."

So the issue is joined, and no doubt with historic consequences for American liberty.  For most of the last century, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution's Commerce Clause as so elastic as to allow any regulation desired by a Congressional majority.  Only with the William Rehnquist Court did the Justices begin to rediscover that the Commerce Clause has some limits, as in the Lopez (1995) and Morrison (2000) cases.

The courts up through the Supremes will now decide if government can order individuals to buy a private product or be penalized for not doing so.  If government can punish citizens for in essence doing nothing, then what is left of the core Constitutional principle of limited and enumerated government powers?

Judge Hudson's opinion is particularly valuable because it dispatches the White House's carousel of rationalizations for its unprecedented intrusions.  The Justice Department argued that the mandate is justified by the Commerce Clause because the decision not to purchase insurance has a substantial effect on interstate commerce because everybody needs medical care eventually.  And if not that, then it's permissible under the broader taxing power for the general welfare; and if not that, then it's viable under the Necessary and Proper clause; and if not that, well, it's needed to make the overall regulatory scheme function.

But as Judge Hudson argues, the nut of the case is the Commerce Clause.  Justice can't now claim that the mandate is "really" a tax when the bill itself imposes what it calls a "penalty" for failing to buy insurance and says the power to impose the mandate is vested in interstate commerce.  Recall that Obama went on national television during the ObamaCare debate to angrily assert that the mandate "is absolutely not a tax increase."

Moreover, Judge Hudson says that no court has ever "extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market."

Liberals are attacking Judge Hudson because he was appointed by George W. Bush, but his ruling is relatively narrow.  He didn't strike down the rest of ObamaCare even though it lacked a severability clause, and he didn't enjoin the law's implementation pending appeal.  His opinion also doesn't touch Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's long-shot claim that his state's "health freedom" law can nullify an act of Congress. In fact, federal laws that are constitutional are supreme under the 10th Amendment.

Yesterday liberals were crowing that even if the mandate is eventually declared illegal, it's no big deal because the rest of ObamaCare's new system would remain intact.  Yet they've argued for years that the mandate is essential to health reform, because the mandate is at the heart of the regulatory machine.  ObamaCare without a mandate would mean individuals wouldn't have to pay into a system until they were sick, driving up costs even faster and ruining what's left of health insurance markets.

While Judge Hudson's ruling is the first to declare part of the law unconstitutional, more than 20 state attorneys general and the National Federation of Independent Business are also suing in Florida.  Oral arguments will be heard on Thursday in that case, which we think is the strongest constitutional challenge to the law.

As the Virginia case shows, ObamaCare really does stretch the Commerce Clause to the breaking point.  The core issue is whether the federal government can order individuals to do anything the political class decides it wants them to do.  The stakes couldn't be higher for our constitutional order.
Repealing ObamaCare Would Save $540 Billion
Philip Klein says the Congressional Budget Office, in an email to Capitol Hill staffers obtained by the Spectator, has said that repealing the national health care law would reduce net spending by $540 billion in the ten year period from 2012 through 2021.  That number represents the cost of the new provisions, minus Medicare cuts.  Repealing the bill would also eliminate $770 billion in taxes.  It's the tax hikes in the health care law (along with the Medicare cuts) which accounts for the $230 billion in deficit reduction.

Email, from Edward "Sandy" Davis, CBO's Associate Director for Legislative Affairs:

To interested Hill staff:

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have not yet developed a detailed estimate of the budgetary impact of H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, which would repeal the major health care legislation enacted in March 2010.  Yesterday, we released a preliminary analysis of that legislation indicating that, over the 2012-2021 period, the effect of enacting H.R. 2 on the federal budget as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues is likely to be an increase in deficits in the vicinity of $230 billion, plus or minus the effects of forthcoming technical and economic changes to CBO's and JCT's projections for that period.

We have been asked to provide the revenue and direct spending components of that total.  Extrapolating the estimated budgetary effects of the original health care legislation and accounting for the effects of subsequent legislation, CBO anticipates that enacting H.R. 2 would probably yield, for the 2012-2021 period, a reduction in revenues in the neighborhood of $770 billion and a reduction in outlays in the vicinity of $540 billion, plus or minus the effects of forthcoming technical and economic changes to CBO's and JCT's projections.

CBO will post a Director's blog with this information on the CBO website shortly.  Please let me know if you have any questions.


Edward "Sandy" Davis
Associate Director for Legislative Affairs
Congressional Budget Office

Related:  House Votes to Pass Key Hurdle to Repealing ObamaCare, 236-181.

Related:  Oklahoma Says It Will File Lawsuit Challenging ObamaCare.
U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Calls For Repeal Of ObamaCare
Penny Starr says Tom Donohue, CEO and president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, during his annual State of American Business address that the health care bill signed into law last year by Barack Obama should be repealed.

"Last year, while strongly advocating health care reform, the Chamber was a leader in the fight against this particular bill, and thus we support legislation in the House to repeal it." ... "We see the upcoming House vote as an opportunity for everyone to take a fresh look at health care reform and to replace unworkable approaches with more effective measures that will lower costs, expand access, and improve quality."

Donohue prefaced his announcement that the Chamber supports repealing what has come to be known as ObamaCare by stating that government regulations should be reined in and the regulatory process needs to be reformed.

"First, we must rein in excessive regulations and reform the regulatory process." ... "At the federal level alone, regulations already fill 150,000 pages of fine-print text and cost Americans $1.7 trillion a year."

Donohue included the health care bill in what he called a "regulatory tsunami."

"For example, the new health care law creates 159 new agencies, commissions, panels, and other bodies." ... "It grants extraordinary powers to the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine health care as we know it.  When the bill passed, Americans were promised that it would lower costs and allow anyone who liked their existing coverage to keep it.  Instead, costs are rising and health plans are being forced to change."

Donohue said the cost of the bill has already increased and it has created problems for Medicare coverage and that a growing number of businesses are considering ending employer-based insurance plans because of cost.

He also called the bill "unworkable."

"By mid-December, HHS had already granted 222 waivers to the law -- a revealing acknowledgement that the law is unworkable." ... "And, with key provisions under challenge in the courts by states and others, itís time to go back to the drawing board."

Related:  Judicial Watch Sues HHS to Obtain ObamaCare Waiver Documents
House To Resume Push To Repeal ObamaCare
Donna Smith and Thomas Ferraro are reporting that the U.S. House of Representatives will resume action next week on repealing Barack Obama's landmark healthcare overhaul, a House Republican spokesman said on Thursday.

The House had been expected to act this week on the repeal bill, but the vote was postponed after the tragedy in Tucson.

"As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week," said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

"Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new healthcare law and its effect on the ability to grow jobs in our country," he added.

The vote is set for Wednesday, said another Republican aide who asked not to be identified.

The repeal vote would fulfill a campaign promise of Republicans who won control of the House in November elections.  But the measure will likely die in the Senate, where Democrats remain in control.

Even if repeal were to pass the Congress, Obama would veto it, the White House has said.

Continue reading here . . .
ObamaCare Is Unconstitutional
David Whelan says that in a ruling out of the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Justice Roger Vinson has declared that the primary mechanism whereby the health reform achieves universal insurance coverage -- the individual mandate -- is unconstitutional.

With this ruling, and a similar one in December by Judge Henry Hudson in Virgina, itís likely that the U.S. Surpreme Court will be the final arbiter of whether ObamaCare stands. (Two other lawsuits -- one in Michigan and one in Virginia -- were thrown out by other federal district judges last year who disagreed with the constitutional challenge.)

Henry Hudson, the Virginia judge who ruled in favor of that stateís legal challenge, focused on whether Congress has the ability, via the Commerce Clause, to force uninsured people to buy insurance.  He concluded that it does not.  Vinson, on the other hand, signaled in an earlier ruling that he was interested in whether the federal fine for not buying insurance is a tax or a penalty.  If itís a penalty, the legislation relies on a broad Commerce Clause interpretation.  If itís a tax, itís much more difficult to make a constitutional claim against it.

In todayís ruling he writes: "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.  This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications."

Related:  Federal Judge Roger Vinson used ObamaĎs own position from the 2008 campaign against him
ObamaCare Ruling
State of Florida Vs. US Dept Health & Human Services, Justice Vinson ruling, US District Court
Obama Had A Very Bad Day
Alan Caruba says a federal judge in Florida says the Obama administrationís health overhaul is unconstitutional, siding with 26 states that had sued to block it. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson on Monday accepted without trial the statesí argument that the new law violates peopleís rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.

Attorneys for the administration had argued that the states did not have standing to challenge the law and that the case should be dismissed.  The case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Two other federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement, but a federal judge in Virginia also ruled the insurance requirement unconstitutional.

See?  The system works.  That is to say, the one set up by the U.S. Constitution.  You remember the U.S. Constitution, right?

And, well, when 26 States all say that a law passed by Congress and signed by Obama is unconstitutional, the chances are it is.

When you combine that with the House of Representativesí call for its repeal, even Democrat Senators (particularly those facing reelection in 2012) are going to think twice about voting against repeal when it gets to the Senate floor.

Obama is just two years into his first and last term, looking more and more like Jimmy Carter every day, courtesy of the mobs in the streets of Cairo.

For two years he threw trillions of OUR dollars at "stimulus" legislation to generate jobs and failed.  Now the most central piece of legislation for him, former Speaker Pelosi, and Harry Reid has been ruled unconstitutional.

There is no way Obama can breath life into that horrid overhaul of Medicare that pulled trillions out of it while adding millions more Americans to it.  No where in the Constitution does it say that the government can require you to buy insurance, a hamburger, or even a lottery ticket.

Moreover, as various entities examined ObamaCare, it became increasingly clear that it was a monstrosity filled with mandates that would end up killing people who didnít have months to wait around for an operation or waiting to see the increasingly fewer physicians it would force to leave the profession for lack of adequate compensation.

It is now clear to everyone that Obama was and is totally unsuited and unprepared for the job.  Now watch the issue of his real place of birth move to the center of the stage.

The U.S. could survive a "President Biden," but Obama should never have been let anywhere near the Oval Office.

Not a good day for the Democratic Party.  A really awful day for Barack Hussein Obama.
"We Have An Increasingly Lawless President"
Joe Kovacs says radio host Rush Limbaugh is warning that the Obama administration might continue to force implementation of its health-care law that was ruled unconstitutional yesterday, saying, "We have an increasingly lawless president."

"We do know that this regime violated and ignored a federal court order on their drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.  So we have an increasingly lawless president," Limbaugh said on his program this afternoon.

Asking himself rhetorically if he meant to say that, he repeated himself, saying that yes, he does:

"We have an increasingly lawless president."

Limbaugh said the Obama administration is "saying they'll continue to implement this law.  For the gazillionth time, the judge did not say that they can continue to implement it while it's appealed."

"I think there is abject panic over this ruling," he continued.  "This is the linchpin.  This is the foundation of the new America.  They were hoping to sneak in this ability [that] the federal government mandate people have something."

"What you see is a lawless, statist mentality, in this case unconstitutional behavior if the regime does not comply with the court, plain and simple.  They cannot.  This law has been voided.  It has been ruled unconstitutional."

In a blog post on the White House website, Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Adviser Stephanie Cutter wrote that the case is "is a plain case of judicial overreaching."

"We don't believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld and we are confident that the Affordable Care Act will ultimately be declared constitutional by the courts," she added.

Related:  White House vows to implement health care reform, despite judgeís ruling
ObamaCare Will Cost 800,000 Jobs
Jeffrey Anderson says Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf, testifying yesterday before the House Budget Committee, confirmed that ObamaCare is expected to reduce the number of jobs in the labor market by an estimated 800,000.  Here are excerpts from the exchange:

Chairman [Paul] Ryan:  "[I]t's been argued...that the new health care law will create jobs and increase labor force participation. But if I recall from your analysis, it was quite the opposite. Is that not the case?"

Director [Douglas] Elmendorf:  "Yes."...


Rep. [John] Campbell:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, we'll -- and Dr. Elmendorf -- and we'll continue this conversation right now.  First on health care, before I get to -- before I get to broader issues, you just mentioned that you believe -- or that in your estimate, that the health care law would reduce the labor used in the economy by about 1/2 of 1 percent, given that, I believe you say, there's 160 million full-time people working in '20-'21.  That means that, in your estimation, the health care law would reduce employment by 800,000 in '20-'21.  Is that correct?

Director Elmendorf:  Yes.  The way I would put it is that we do estimate, as you said, that...employment will be about 160 million by the end of the decade.  Half a percent of that is 800,000.

Wouldn't the real number be 783,500?  After all, ObamaCare will also give us 16,500 additional IRS agents.
CBO:  Repealing ObamaCare Would Save $1.4 Trillion
Philip Klein says repealing the new national health care law would result in gross savings of $1.4 trillion, a new report by the Congressional Budget Office finds.

During the health care debate, Democrats were hard pressed to keep up with President Obama's promise that the legislation would cost "around $900 billion."  So they employed the gimmick of delaying the major spending provisions until 2014 to make the legislation appear cheaper within the CBO's ten-year budget window, then 2010 through 2019.  At the time, I calculated that this tactic deferred 98 percent of the spending to the last six years of that period.  Well, now two years have passed, and the CBO's budget window has shifted to 2012 through 2021 -- and voliŗ -- the estimate that was $940 billion at the time of passage has suddenly gone up to $1.4 trillion.  Keep in mind that this estimate still includes two years (2012 and 2013) prior to full implementation.  Clearly, the actual 10-year cost of the major coverage provisions is going to be even higher -- likely something closer to $1.8 trillion.

Of course, Democrats are going to focus on the CBO's other finding -- that repealing the health care law would add $210 billion to deficits over this period. But let's break that down. It's true that the law also includes $732 billion in spending cuts (primarily for Medicare). Right now, we're engaged in a bitter debate over how to wring savings out of the federal budget so we can reduce the debt. Well, if the $732 billion in cuts had not been used to pay for a new entitlement, they'd still be available for deficit reduction.

Even so, when all the cuts are taken into account, net spending still goes up by $604 billion under the health care law. The way it achieves deficit reduction is through $813 billion in tax hikes. In other words, the law "saves" money only if you think alll money is government property to begin with -- it certainly doesn't save the taxpayers who are coughing up the additional $813 billion.

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