Last week, United Liberty Editor-in-Chief, Jason Pye, wrote a column discussing why the 22nd Amendment, the one that limits the president to two terms, would never be repealed; despite the fact that there is been a fair amount of press and attention given to the introduction of a resolution by New York Dem, Jose Serrano, that would do precisely that.
Without getting into specifics, Mr. Pye simply said the reasons why this would never happen were “pretty obvious,” and that it was a non-issue. He is correct. And for many of the regular readers of UL, I’m sure it is pretty obvious, but I thought I would take a moment to specifically talk about why it won’t happen for some of the readers who might not fully understand the process.
As many of us know, there are exactly two ways in which the Constitution of the United States can be amended: either by Constitutional Convention, or by a 2/3 vote by Congress with a 3/4 ratification vote by the various state legislatures.
No amendment has ever been passed by a Constitutional Convention, and it seems very unlikely that it would ever happen. In order for it to happen, 2/3 of the state legislatures would have to vote for and call for it. With our polarized electorate, and since many of the states themselves seem so polarized, it just seems like an all-out impossibility.
Those of us that oppose President Barack Obama’s health care law are still no doubt wondering what exactly happened on Thursday when the Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, opted to keep the individual mandate in place under the Taxing Power of Congress. If you’re still trying to figure out the details of the decision, Philip Klein has put together a good primer on the ruling, breaking it down as simply as the bizarre, confusing opinion can be explained.
The decision does give a break to President Obama, who has been struggling with the weak economy and shaky polling as of late. But, as Michael Barone notes, it may all be short-lived thanks to the law’s unpopularity and now the headache that comes with a clearly defined tax hike on Americans.
But what do we make of the decision itself? There is a lot there to parse through, but here are some points that may help explain parts of the decision and the tenuous future of a push to repeal ObamaCare.
We’ve been covering the discovery of a provision in ObamaCare that would place a burden on small businesses by requiring that they file 1099 forms for expenditures over $600. Even Democrats realized that this requirement was bad for business, especially as President Barack Obama tries to convice voters otherwise.
Instead of voting on an outright repeal of the provision, Democrats tucked it away with other provisions that hiked taxes and it ultimately failed when it came up on the floor:
The House rejected a bill Friday that would have repealed the provision. The two parties disagreed on how to make up the lost revenue.
“This foolish policy hammers our business community when we should be supporting their job growth,” Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska said in the Republicans’ weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “It’s only one example of how the administration’s promise to support small businesses really rings hollow.”
Democrats blamed Republicans for Friday’s failure.
“Despite all of their rhetoric about the need to eliminate this reporting requirement, Republicans walked away from small businesses when it mattered most,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Businesses already must file Form 1099s with the IRS when they purchase more than $600 in services from a vendor in a year. The new provision would extend the requirement to the purchase of goods, starting in 2012.
We heard it on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA). He made it very clear to his fellow members that the vote to repeal ObamaCare was a “vote to stop the IRS.”
That proclamation was true for two reasons. First, the IRS was given authority to enforce ObamaCare’s individual mandate and the collect the fines imposed on Americans who don’t purchase health insurance coverage. The IRS has also far exceed its statutory authority by imposing fines on businesses that don’t offer coverage to employees in states that rejected the insurance exchanges. Those points by themselves are concerning enough.
The second point is that the IRS official who oversaw the office that dealt with tax-exempt organizations during the time the agency was discriminating against Tea Party groups is now leading the office responsible for ObamaCare:
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
The House of Representatives will vote on repeal of ObamaCare “in the near future,” according to a memo from Major Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). The memo, which was obtained by The Hill, outlines several policy measures — including ObamaCare repeal, approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and debt prioritization — that will be taken up by House Republicans over the next few weeks.
“In line with our underlying principles for legislation and our goal of helping make life work for American families and businesses, I expect the House to have a full legislative agenda in May,” wrote Cantor to the House Republican Conference (PDF). “We will push the administration to finally approve the Keystone pipeline delivering much needed jobs and lower energy prices for families. We will ensure that working moms and dads in the private sector have the same freedoms and flexibility currently offered government employees.”
“We will reform our student loan process and hold the SEC accountable so that business can be assured of more certainty and less red tape. We will put pediatric disease research ahead of politics to focus on finding cures,” he added. “And we will guarantee our debt obligations are met under any circumstance so as not to burden our kids with unpaid bills. While we have not locked in the timing, I expect that the House will vote on full repeal of ObamaCare in the near future.”
No other specifics were offered on ObamaCare repeal, but Cantor did outline the case for the other legislative matters that House Republicans will pursue before Congress adjourns for a district work period at the end of the month.
House conservatives are once again making a push to repeal ObamaCare. While the effort is more symbolic due than anything thing else due to the fact that Democrats control the Senate, a vote to repeal would put vulnerable members in the House in a tough position and also give freshman a chance to say that they’ve voted for repeal:
House conservatives are clamoring for a floor vote on a full repeal of the 2010 healthcare overhaul, saying that freshman Republicans need an opportunity to tell their constituents they tried to scrap the law.
Frustration is mounting in the conservative ranks over the party leadership’s decision to bring up legislation that modifies but does not eliminate President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. The GOP bill, which shifts money to boost high-risk insurance pools, is facing stiff resistance, putting its passage on Wednesday is in doubt.
“The guys who have been up here the last two years, we can go home and say, ‘Listen, we voted 36 different times to repeal or replace ObamaCare.’ Tell me what the new guys are supposed to say?” second-term Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said Wednesday at a forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
After two years in which House Republicans voted on a near-weekly basis to repeal part of or all of the healthcare law, the GOP leadership shifted strategy following Obama’s reelection in November.
Republicans had their sights set on the Senate seat in South Dakota in 2014, but they may have been handed some help. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who has served in the chamber since 1997, has announced his retirement:
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) will not seek reelection in 2014, The Hill has confirmed, putting another red-state seat up for grabs in the battle for control of the Senate.
Johnson, who is serving his third term, will announce the news on Tuesday at the University of South Dakota, his former school. Johnson will be the fifth Senate Democrat to retire this election cycle.
The decision gives Republicans another prime pickup opportunity as they work to win back control of the Senate.
Republicans need to gain six seats to flip control of the upper chamber in 2014. Mitt Romney carried South Dakota with 57 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Ezra Klein has a post arguing that ObamaCare is unpopular because the public doesn’t understand it. It would be more accurate to say that ObamaCare is popular with people like Klein because they don’t understand it.
Klein notes an apparent negative correlation between the popularity of certain provisions of the law and public awareness of those provisions. If only more people knew about the good stuff in ObamaCare – you know, the subsidies to seniors and the provisions forcing insurers to cover the sick – more people would like it. But the polls showing public support for those provisions don’t ask respondents whether they think the benefits of those provisions are worth the costs. They only ask about the benefits. Since none of those provisions is a benefits-only proposition, those polls tell us essentially nothing.
For example, last year a Reason-Rupe survey asked respondents about laws forcing insurers to cover the sick. What made this poll interesting is that it was the first poll in 18 years to ask respondents to weigh the costs of such laws against the benefits. The below graph (from my latest Cato paper, “50 Vetoes”) displays the results.
Last night, the Senate symbolically voted to repeal yet another part of ObamaCare — the medical device tax. This provision will imposed 2.3% tax on medical devices, which could lead to the loss of some 43,000 jobs:
By a vote of 79 to 20, the Senate moved to rescind the 2.3 percent tax on manufacturers and importers of medical devices. The tax will raise nearly $2 billion in new revenue in 2013 and $20 billion over the next seven years.
Thursday night’s vote was nonbinding since it was on an amendment to a Senate budget resolution which is not likely to result in a budget plan that Republican-controlled House would agree to.
The medical device tax is one of $24.6 billion in 2013 tax increases mandated by the Affordable Care Act which took effect on Jan. 1.
Click here to see how your Senators voted.
Not only would the medical device tax hit the medical industry and hurt innovation, consumers would have been hit with higher healthcare costs. The tax was even blamed for an increase in prices for pet owners at vet offices.
Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed — in a 221-207 vote — the budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). This is the third conservative year in which the House has passed a budget. The budget passed this morning, while not perfect, does balance the budget in 10 years, enacts tax reform, and brings Medicare on a sustainable path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t repeal any of the ObamaCare taxes and ultimately doesn’t cut enough in spending, which is way some House conservatives — including Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie — voted against it.
The Senate has just proposed its first budget in four years, which, by the way, the Senate will raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion and it never balances. We’re still waiting on President Barack Obama’s budget proposal, though he’s had time to get his March Madness brackets filled out.
Sen. Rand Paul, however, laid out a blueprint during his speech at CPAC that will have the budget balanced in five years, doing so by eliminating cabinet departments, cutting spending, and repealing ObamaCare.