Resolute is a forest products company. It is one of the largest manufacturers of newsprint in the world. It has also been the target of a lengthy campaign by Environmental Non Government Organizations (ENGO), like Greenpeace. At first, when approached by the ENGOs, Resolute cooperated and thought it was part of a cooperative effort. But, like all good shakedown artists, the ENGOs continued to defame Resolute while insisting on more and more draconian measures be met by the company as new provisos in their “agreement”.
On May 31, Resolute took a page from the ENGO’s playbook and, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, filed a civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) suit against Greenpeace and a number of its associates who, though they claim to be independent, act cooperatively. The RICO Act intended to deal with the mob as a loose organization, or “enterprise,” with a pattern of activity and common nefarious purposes, such as extortion. (Greenpeace has asked the Justice Department to use the RICO Act to investigate oil companies and organizations that sow doubts about the risks of climate change.)
The 100-page complaint alleges that Greenpeace and its affiliates are a RICO “enterprise.” According to the Resolute news release, it describes the deliberate falsity of the malicious and defamatory accusations the enterprise has made and details how, to support its false accusations, “Greenpeace has fabricated evidence and events, including, for example, staged photos falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas.” The suit also calls Greenpeace a “global fraud” out to line its pockets with money from donors and says that “maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective.” Additionally, it cites admissions by Greenpeace’s leadership that it “emotionalizes” issues to manipulate audiences.
In the U.S. lawsuit, Resolute is seeking compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial, as well as treble and punitive damages.
I’ve got to say I’m really glad to see this. This ENGO scam has gone on far too long and in many cases has had the tacit backing of the government, or elements of the government. As the article notes, the discovery portion of this suit will be interesting since it will likely uncover many things the ENGOs would prefer stayed unknown to the general and easily duped public – well, at least the part of the public they’re able to dupe into contributing to their “cause”. Their “cause”, it seems, has become shaking down companies. Even one of the original founders of Greenpeace acknowledges what they’ve become and he minces no words doing so:
Patrick Moore, one of the original founders of Greenpeace, is disappointed that the group that originally wanted to help, is now an extortion racket. He told me: “I am very proud to have played a small role in helping Resolute deal with these lying blackmailers and extortionists.”
We’ll follow and report. Hopefully this is the beginning of a large and needed pushback.
A few items caught my eye yesterday:
Immigration is seriously worried about the Chinese coming to the US to have kids to get them the American Citizenship prize. Called Birth Tourism, apparently it’s bad and wrong and the US government wants to stop it. Seems these people buy plane tickets, rent hotels, have their kids and go back to China, where after some number of decades their child might return to the US for, among other things, the education. I’m not sure how I feel about all that, but I do observe they are playing by the stupid rules we’ve established that being a foreign national and having a kid in the US makes the kid a citizen and entitles their parents to come along for the ride. And they seem to be doing it through perfectly legitimate, even trackable means too.
The Chinese may be getting screwed on this deal. California being California there’s no guarantee that 17 years of so from now they won’t pass a law saying Californians are obligated to educate everyone in China anyway, because that’s how they seem to roll out there on the high powered left coast.
It’s an interesting insight that so many Chinese would like to be Americans isn’t it? Well, at least in the current currency of American citizenship which the Obama Administration is working so diligently to debase these days.
Imagine, some of them are defrauding the hospitals! Well! Thank heavens everyone else who staggers across the borders illegally and avails themselves of our services makes sure they settle all their hospital bills right?
and these Chinese people, they lie!
“These people were told to lie, how to lie, so that their motives for coming to the U.S. wouldn’t be questioned,” Claude Arnold, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Associated Press.
this must be as opposed to not even bothering to have to lie and just crossing the Rio Grande or the desert someplace between San Diego and El Centro where you get scooped up and processed at a “detention facility” before you are flown or bused by the government to the city of your choice in the US.
What makes me go hmmmmm is the curious fact that our government, nay, our very President, has encouraged tens of thousands of Mexican and Central Americans to sneak into the country, and is intent on making all of them citizens right now, well, certainly trying to get the job done by the 2016 election, when of course they won’t vote for Republican candidates. There’s no point in beating around the Obama here and pretending that’s not the plan going forward. I’m trying to figure out why the usual host of Raul Gravilja’s and Luis Gutierrez’s aren’t out there doing their best to protect these Asian-American citizens in the making!
I guess it’s not all illegals, I’m sorry, undocumented (though technically, they ARE documented aren’t they) immigrants that Raul and Luis and Barack are fighting for.
I don’t know who the Asians pissed off, maybe they didn’t properly celebrate Thanksgiving in 2014.
While I’m thinking on it, stray thought as it were, with respect to McQ’s post the other day on Nanny State, I wonder if CPS in various locales are investigating all those families that let their kids wander into the country without their parents during 2014.
Is it worse to let your kid wander half a mile from school to the house, or across the Rio Grande from Mexico to Texas? Duh, school to the house, hands down.
Another bit of news was..
It turns out according to the prosecution in the Boston Marathon bombing that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an Islamic holy warrior.
Federal prosecutor William Weinreb took charge of presenting the first profile of Tsarnaev to the jury, stating that the accused had “had murder in his heart” and had wanted to kill Americans.
“He believed that he was a soldier in a holy war against Americans,” Weinreb said. “He also believed that by winning that victory, he had taken a step toward reaching paradise.”
Tsarnaev also thought that the U.S. government was the enemy of the Muslim people,” Weireb added.
Or, he thought he was a holy warrior, for Islam.
See, that’s just silly, the jury should disregard that allegation from the getgo, because it’s just not possible according to the White House and State Department and numerous other executive agencies. There had to be something else that motivated him, like anger about marathons or something. After all, in the closing of the trial of Major Nidal Hasan, the Army prosecutor said it wasn’t about religion, it’s wrong and un-supportive to tie his actions to religion. So why would the Federal prosecutor in Boston start out by explaining the perp thought he was a holy warrior fighting for Islam against Americans? That just doesn’t make sense. There’s no tie to Islam here!
If those ‘committing the crime’ delusionaly think it’s for Islam, it doesn’t matter what they think. If we decide that’s not why they’re doing it then that’s not why they did it. That’s been made pretty clear in the Fort Hood massacre, the case where the solider was decapitated in England, the beheading in Oklahoma, the Charlie Hebdo massacre, or the coffee shop attack in Sydney, or the one in Copenhagen. And that whole ISIS isn’t Islam thing too. The Crusades!
I’m not sure what the Federal prosecutor is trying to say, or prove here. I hope someone from the West Wing gives him a call and tells him to knock that crap off. I could better understand if it were being done by a prosecutor working for the whackjob rightwing citizens of the city of Boston, those redneck morons, but a Federal prosecutor?
If he’s not careful and keeps making these links to Islam then there could be a mistrial or it might fuel people’s intolerance. They might start getting irritated and commit hate-crimes like drawing cartoons of the prophet or saying there’s a link between Islam and radical terrorism (as opposed to just plain old conventional terrorism).
Almost last and not least, not to tell the Supreme Court justices how to do their jobs and all, but does it matter more how much damage is done to the country when an unconstitutional law is allowed to stand or how much economic damage is done if it is determined to be against the Constitution?
So these discussions yesterday about Obamacare death spirals and all, do I misunderstand the principle such that the Supreme Court determinations should be based on the damage done if we find something isn’t Constitutional and we can and must excuse bad law if it’s going to cause economic hardship above some arbitrarily determined point?
Oh well, clearly if it’s going to economic hardship we should just let the law stand as currently interpreted by his Highness, because well, it would hurt to undo the thing now. Besides His Majesty can probably fix it with an executive extension or rescission or action or something to get around whatever silly argument is being made that the legislation as written and intended, shouldn’t be taken verbatim in THAT particular portion. All the other things the legislation said should be taken at absolute face value until the King changes what he wants them to mean, but the wording in the part about State exchanges should be considered fungible because it might hurt to undo it.
I wanted to mention the Republican’s brave stand in refusing funding for the 14% of DHS that isn’t mandatorily funded but that is probably just to much hmmmmmm for one day right?
More outrage smoke from Ezekiel Emanuel on the Supreme Court women’s contraception ruling over at Politico lamenting unintended consequences.
Someone should lament the unintended consequences of the ACA, assuming they are unintended.
Blah blah, no personal choice, your company’s religious belief trumps yours, what a crime that companies have provided the majority of American’s health insurance since World War II when we could have had a super good program like ObamaCare is offering right now. Don’t you just wish those evil Supreme Court justices had gone the way of progressive liberal goodness and niceness and made up law like Justice Roberts did when he magiced a penalty, unlawful, into a tax, lawful, instead of reading this new rule to see if it clashed with laws already on the books?
The ACA was crated to, uh, prevent you from being locked into your job you see. Odd, I personally changed jobs, as a father of a family, which HAD pre-existing conditions, of a serious nature, some 9 times over the course of the last 35 years BEFORE the ACA, and oddly must have missed the handcuffs that kept me locked in my job(s). The ACA is a cure all, it will prevent job lock, it will raise wages AND it will keep health care inflation under control. Yeah, course it will. It would have helped win the War on women, but not now because Sharia law!
Here’s a snip….
‘To minimize disruption and reassure most Americans, the Affordable Care Act kept employer-sponsored health insurance intact. The ACA includes an employer mandate enforced by a $2,000 per worker penalty: Employers with more than 50 full-time workers who do not provide insurance that satisfies a minimum requirement must pay.
The minimum requirement includes preventive services from vaccinations to cancer screening tests to cholesterol screening. It also includes contraception. The Hobby Lobby case basically says employers need not cover contraception in the health insurance it provides” (my emphasis)
So well crafted was this law, that women’s contraceptive health coverage wasn’t even included in it. That would be the rule that the evil religious folks NOW can use to control women’s uterus’s! I mean that would be the rule that means the evil religious folks have to pay for birth control.
The ACA passed into law on March 23, 2010 – there was NO provision in the original law for birth control – here’s a FAQ from the National Women’s Law Center web site that explains it was added on August 1, 2011. Added, not voted on, not sent to the House, Senate, President. Just added.
“The health care law (the Affordable Care Act) requires certain preventive health services and screenings to be covered in all new health insurance plans without cost sharing. This means that, for the preventive health care services included, you will not be charged a co-payment for the services, and the costs of the services will not be applied to your deductible. The list of covered preventive services is extensive and includes services such as mammograms, pap-smears, and smoking cessation supports….(I snipped a link ‘for more info)
On August 1, 2011, the list was expanded to include birth control alongside other women’s preventive services, such as an annual well-woman visit.”
Maybe Nancy Pelosi should have read it first to see if that was in there. Or maybe it was, we just couldn’t see it, yet.
That was, not so soon, taken care of by Kathleen Sebelius and the good folks down at US Department of Health and Human Service, a year later. Really, you’d have thought they’d have done it sooner, but maybe they finally read the ACA.
Free contraception for women. They couldn’t possibly have left that out, that would be like a war on women or something, and not a Bush or Republican in sight to take the blame! It’s important, right? It couldn’t have been overlooked. It’s important enough that the government just tried to use it to tell people with objecting religious convictions (dirrrrrrrrty Christians) ….they were going to have to provide contraception coverage.
And now because of the Jihadi Sharia loving 5 maniacs on the Supreme Court, women can’t have contraception, or contraception of their choice, or health care, or something!!!!!!!!
Well, not quite, in this case, specifically, the government mandated Hobby Lobby had to pay for methods they considered to be tantamount to ”abortion’ coverage. Hobby Lobby actually agreed to cover some other forms of contraception, a pretty fair number, in fact, 16.
Robin Abcarian at the LA Times weighed in on the decision too. According to Robin the Supremes should have looked at what the drugs and devices did and made their decision on that basis. So long as when it was done the 5 male Justices that didn’t know for sure what 1 male and 3 female Justices didn’t know for sure, that is, when life begins, listened only to the 3 females because, uh, they have a uterus and ovaries.
Seems to me they probably did consider what those drugs and devices did as it really figures in their determination it was in fact a religious argument, or an argument of ‘faith’ if you will.
Here’s a summary from The Atlantic of what Hobby Lobby is thinking… and that’s where the argument gets religious for them. Hobby Lobby views life as beginning at the point the egg is fertilized by the sperm. The counter argument, and the Atlantic linked an authority appeal of ‘Most Doctors’ which turns out to be the Federal Government and a reference to the American Congress of OBGYNs, is that it begins at implantation (and we all know from Roe v. Wade that what implants is a puppy, or goldfish, or protoblob, until 9 months later a miracle occurs and a human is born.) The Atlantic summary is okay, but to me they torpedo themselves right around the straights of IUD diagram because they rely on their experts to make a decision of faith for Hobby Lobby, and decide that Hobby Lobby’s faith is politely, crap.
Once again, note if the egg hasn’t implanted (yet), the now hysterical side of the argument has decided it’s not a pregnancy. The IUDs prevent implantation and the pills in question prevent fertilization rather than stopping ovulation. And that’s where faith/belief comes in because we didn’t get the instruction book from the Deity of your choice. If you don’t have a deity, I’m not sure what you’re going to decide, but at some point LIFE begins and the two sides do NOT agree definitively when that is.
The 5 mad male Mullah’s on the Supreme Court decided to err on the side of Hobby Lobby’s beliefs. Owing to the Religious Freedom Restoration act. A law, already, on, the, books. Which the new ‘rule’ seemed to contradict in the 4 instances specified.
More from Zeke:
“The closely held corporation limit is no limit at all. It turns out that more than half of U.S. employees work for closely held corporations. While many are small, many, like Hobby Lobby, are large. And it gives an incentive for more employers to become closely held corporations.”
It doesn’t stop contraceptives from being covered, it’s probably not going to lead to a massive rush by companies to drop contraceptive coverage, it’s not some fundamentalist plot to control women and (re)gain control over their reproductive systems.
It was a loss for the progressives though, because they made such a freaking big deal out of making sure the crazy faith holders at Hobby Lobby did as they were damn well told. Hence the lamentations of their…uh, various genders.
As a final note, I can’t help thinking it is interesting to note that while 4 methods of “contraception” are no longer available to female Hobby Lobby employees, no one of these outraged folks is particularly concerned that the Democrats left such an important item out of the original encyclopedic bill or that an Executive branch agency came along and created an entire entitlement completely out of whole cloth a year after “the law” was passed.
You’d almost think they had some plan to make sure they were going to remain permanently in control of those agencies, otherwise that sort of thing would be dangerous if the crazy faith holders ever got back into power and turned the tables on them.
It’s hard to describe this blinding stupidity as anything other than … well, blindingly stupid. I think this one sentence encapsulates the #Fail quite nicely:
This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout.
If you think Brooks is trying to get all counter-intuitive on you (a la Thomas Friedman’s wistful longing for Chinese authoritarianism), think again. It’s just full on stupidity.
Brooks’ argument is that Congress is too beholden to the “rentier groups” (i.e. moneyed interest groups and lobbyists) and that the judiciary is too involved in the process:
In the current issue of The American Interest, Francis Fukuyama analyzes this institutional decay. His point is that the original system of checks and balances has morphed into a “vetocracy,” an unworkable machine where many interests can veto reform.
First, there is the profusion of interest groups. In 1971, there were 175 registered lobbying firms. By 2009, there were 13,700 lobbyists spending more than $3.5 billion annually, and this doesn’t even count the much larger cloud of activist groups and ideological enforcers.
Then there is the judicial usurpation of power. Fukuyama writes, “conflicts that in Sweden or Japan would be solved through quiet consultations between interested parties through the bureaucracy are fought out through formal litigation in the American court system.” This leads to uncertainty, complexity and perverse behavior.
After a law is passed, there are always adjustments to be made. These could be done flexibly. But, instead, Congress throws implementation and enforcement into the court system by giving more groups the standing to sue. What could be a flexible process is turned into “adversarial legalism” that makes government more intrusive and more rigid.
In other words, because the power to form laws is relatively disbursed amongst constituents, elected officials and the court system, gridlock happens sometimes and that’s just totally unacceptable. Because, heaven knows that if Congress isn’t cranking out new laws at a fast enough pace, the world will end. (That seems to be the meme going around anyway.)
So what would be the benefits of more powerful Executive branch?
Here are the advantages. First, it is possible to mobilize the executive branch to come to policy conclusion on something like immigration reform. It’s nearly impossible for Congress to lead us to a conclusion about anything. Second, executive branch officials are more sheltered from the interest groups than Congressional officials. Third, executive branch officials usually have more specialized knowledge than staffers on Capitol Hill and longer historical memories. Fourth, Congressional deliberations, to the extent they exist at all, are rooted in rigid political frameworks. Some agencies, especially places like the Office of Management and Budget, are reasonably removed from excessive partisanship. Fifth, executive branch officials, if they were liberated from rigid Congressional strictures, would have more discretion to respond to their screw-ups, like the Obamacare implementation. Finally, the nation can take it out on a president’s party when a president’s laws don’t work. That doesn’t happen in Congressional elections, where most have safe seats.
Note the two “advantages” I’ve bolded. It’s as if things like Solyndra fiasco and the IRS targeting of conservatives never happened.
Lest there be any confusion about Brooks’ prescription, he sums it up as thus:
So how do you energize the executive? It’s a good idea to be tolerant of executive branch power grabs and to give agencies flexibility. We voters also need to change our voting criteria. It’s not enough to vote for somebody who agrees with your policy preferences. Presidential candidates need to answer two questions. How are you going to build a governing 60 percent majority that will enable you to drive the Washington policy process? What is your experience implementing policies through big organizations?
We don’t need bigger government. We need more unified authority. Take power away from the rentier groups who dominate the process. Allow people in those authorities to exercise discretion. Find a president who can both rally a majority, and execute a policy process.
At least he’s being honest about what the political and chattering classes truly want. As an added bonus, Brooks has inspired a better description of his cant than “blindingly stupid”: contemptible.
This should be interesting to watch:
A group of small business owners (and individuals) in six states today are suing the federal government over an IRS regulation imposed under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which will force them to pay exorbitant fines, cut back employees’ hours, or severely burden their businesses. Complaint can be viewed here.
The Affordable Care Act authorizes health insurance subsidies to qualifying individuals in states that created their own healthcare exchanges. Those subsidies trigger the employer mandate (a $2,000/employee penalty) and expose more people to the individual mandate. But last spring, without authorization from Congress, the IRS vastly expanded those subsidies to cover states that refused to set up such exchanges. Under the Act, businesses in these nonparticipating states should be free of the employer mandate, and the scope of the individual mandate should be reduced as well. But because of the IRS rule, both mandates will be greatly enlarged in scope, depriving states of the power to protect their residents.
Michael Carvin, partner at Jones Day, who co-argued the Supreme Court Obamacare cases in March, 2012 and who represents the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, stated: “The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the Act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges.”
33 states have refused to set up these exchanges. The IRS, per the complaint, is ignoring that ability given by the states by the law and proceeding as if it didn’t exist. The argument is the IRS is overstepping it’s authority.
“Agencies are bound by the laws enacted by Congress,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). “Obamacare is already an incredibly massive program. For the IRS to expand it even more, without congressional authorization and in a manner aimed at undercutting state choice, is flagrantly illegal.” CEI is coordinating the lawsuit.
We’ll see. Given the way the law is interpreted anymore, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see the IRS upheld (or the suits be dismissed out of hand). Such is the lack of respect and confidence I hold for our “legal system” anymore.
A federal judge has scrapped the Obama Administration’s rules for drilling. The new rule required oil and gas producers to do additional environmental studies for each new site (or if increased drilling was to be done at an existing site) even though such studies had been completed on the entire tract previously. Under the Bush-era ‘categorical exclusion’ rule, the existing studies and approval for the entire tract were sufficient and subsequent studies for new drilling on that tract were waived.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows the BLM and Forest Service to invoke categorical exclusions and skip new environmental review for drilling permits under certain circumstances.
The circumstances include instances where companies plan to disturb relatively little ground and environmental review already has been done for that area. A categorical exclusion also can be invoked when additional drilling is planned at a well pad where drilling has occurred within the previous five years.
The Obama administration had issued new rules which revoked categorical exclusions (used extensively in the Western US until last year) and required new environmental studies for each new planned drilling or expansion of drilling, slowing the process to a crawl.
The plaintiff, Denver-based Western Energy Alliance, argued that the new rule had created delays that thereby added cost and materially hurt (and thereby created “recognizable injury”). The administration rejected the argument saying it was “speculative. However, the federal judge, U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal , did not:
"Western Energy has demonstrated through its members recognizable injury," she said. "Those injuries are supported by the administrative record."
This, of course, is good news for the oil and gas industry, good news for job hungry Americans and, ironically, a ruling the “focused on jobs like a laser” administration is sure to appeal.
At least for now:
Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial plan to end most collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.
The court found that a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when it hastily approved the collective bargaining measure in March and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had halted the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.
The changes on collective bargaining will take effect once Secretary of State Doug La Follette arranges for official publication of the stalled bill, and the high court said there was now nothing to preclude him from doing that.
This, however, is not the end to law suits against the bill, it’s just one case which has been settled that had stopped implementation of the law in its tracks. In fact, this finding was more about how the lower court judge had exceeded her authority:
The court ruled that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi’s ruling, which had held up implementation of the collective bargaining law, was in the void ab initio, Latin for invalid from the outset.
"The court’s decision …is not affected by the wisdom or lack thereof evidenced in the act," the majority wrote. "Choices about what laws represent wise public policy for the state of Wisconsin are not within the constitutional purview of the courts. The court’s task in the action for original jurisdiction that we have granted is limited to determining whether the Legislature employed a constitutionally violative process in the enactment of the act. We conclude that the Legislature did not violate the Wisconsin Constitution by the process it used."
The court concluded that Sumi exceeded her jurisdiction, "invaded" the Legislature’s constitutional powers and erred in halting the publication and implementation of the collective bargaining law.
So – the law must now be officially published for it to take effect and according to the court, there’s nothing standing in the way of that happening.
I wonder if we’ll be treated to another spectacle of teachers and the like throwing a collective tantrum. Oh, wait, it’s summer – they’re on vacation. With no works stoppage available to them to make their point, probably not.
Ihe 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta, opened its session examining the federal healthcare law recently passed by Congress and derisively known as ObamaCare with these words from its Chief Judge Joel Dubina:
"I can’t find any case like this," Dubina said. "If we uphold this, are there any limits" on the power of the federal government?
That was followed by:
Judge Stanley Marcus chimed in: "I can’t find any case" in the past, he said, where the courts upheld "telling a private person they are compelled to purchase a product in the open market…. Is there anything that suggests Congress can do this?"
Now frankly, I think some people expected a much more receptive audience among the judges since two of the three are Clinton appointees. Dubina is a George H.W. Bush appointee. What both Dubina and Marcus make clear is this is a case – or at least certain aspects of it are – without precedence.
And we all know how federal justices rely on precedence to guide their rulings. I’m encouraged by those opening remarks. The third judge on the e judge panel repeatedly asked the lawyers about the possible effect of striking down the mandate while upholding the rest of the law.
The administration, represented by U.S. Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal argued the following about the individual mandate:
Katyal argued that healthcare was unique and unlike the purchase of other products, like vegetables in a grocery store.
"You can walk out of this courtroom and be hit by a bus," he said, and if an ill or injured person has no insurance, a hospital and the taxpayers will have to pay the costs of his emergency care.
Katyal argued that Congress could reasonably decide that because everyone will probably need medical care at some time in their lives, everyone who can afford it should pay part of the cost. And he said the courts should uphold the law under Congress’ broad power to regulate commerce in this country.
Congress could clearly require that a person who shows up at a hospital without insurance buy it on the spot, he said, and requiring the purchase in advance should not be the decisive difference.
What, of course, is not reasonable is Congress deciding how one must “pay part of the cost” or compelling them to do so under the auspices of the government. It is the individual’s responsibility to pay such debt as in all other areas of life. But, argues the administration:
Parts of the overall law should still survive, said government lawyer Katyal, but he warned the judges they’d make a "deep, deep mistake" if the insurance requirement were found to be unconstitutional. He said Congress had the right to regulate what uninsured Americans must buy because they shift $43 billion each year in medical costs to other taxpayers.
So, the case boils down to $43 billion a year being the reason for a gigantic intrusion in the market by the government which claims it will do a better job of holding down costs via mandating coverage. This is the same government which suffers $60 billion a year in Medicare and Medicaid fraud (I’d call that some serious “shift[ing]” of costs to other taxpayers, wouldn’t you?
Anyway, back to the story – POLITICO is the only news organization that seemed to find some hope for the administration:
The judges’ questions were mixed enough to give encouragement to both sides in the oral arguments in the multistate lawsuit, the most significant of the legal challenges against Obama’s health care overhaul.
But then, immediately said:
But supporters of the health law cringed as the judges spent a significant amount of time questioning both sides over how much of the law they would have to void if they struck down the most controversial provision at the center of the suit: the requirement to buy insurance.
And that brings us back to our old friend, “severability”:
“The government would obviously be somewhat troubled by the questions about severability, which is something that the court only reaches if it were to invalidate one of the provisions,” said Walter Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general who wrote a brief defending the law for Democratic members of Congress.
This particular case of the many pending is probably the highest profile case as it was brought by a collection of 26 states.
Regardless of how this turns out, however, I think it is pretty clear this one is headed to SCOTUS for final disposition. However, the rulings of the judges involved will indeed be scrutinized by the justices in Washington DC when the time comes. If they find against the administration, I think on has to consider such a ruling, if founded on good legal ground, may create the precedent that SCOTUS needs to follow suit and throw the individual mandate (and thus the law for all intents and purposes) out the window.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) had his staff do a study of the ObamaCare bill after its passage to assess exactly what Democrats had blindly passed into law. He also asked his staff to put a chart together to represent the health care system under that law.
The result is mind-boggling and troubling. And if you figured the Secretary of Health and Human Services was the new defacto health care czar, backed by the IRS, you’re correct.
Below is a thumbnail of the chart to give you a flavor of its complexity. Brady admits only represents a third of what is in the bill after which it got too crowded. Said Brady, "it’s actually worse than this."
You can see a full size representation of the chart here. As you peruse it read the legend carefully. You’ll notice 3 areas color coded – “new government”, “expanded government” and “private”. It also charts “new relationships”, such as regulations, requirements and mandates, reporting requirements, oversight and money flow.
Evident to anyone with the IQ of a mushroom is the incredible complexity of what our masters in Congress cobbled together in haste and passed before anyone could actually read the thing through and study the probable consequences. The chart includes:
$569 billion in higher taxes;
$529 billion in cuts to Medicare;
Swelling of the ranks of Medicaid by 16 million;
17 major insurance mandates; and
The creation of two new bureaucracies with powers to impose future rationing: the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Independent Payments Advisory Board.
As might be expected, ObamaCare fulfills almost all the promises of the critics – top driven, bureaucratic, complex, expensive and set up to ration health care.
The chart gives visual evidence of the type monstrosity that has been foisted upon the American public by Democrats. Says Kevin Hassett:
This clearly is a candidate for most disorganized organizational chart ever. It shows that the health system is complex, yes, but also ornate. The new law creates 68 grant programs, 47 bureaucratic entities, 29 demonstration or pilot programs, six regulatory systems, six compliance standards and two entitlements.
Yes friends, the DMV teaming up with the Post Office, have now “organized” your health care and promise it will be “better and less expensive”.
And don’t forget – your new health care czar has the power to make judgments about health care that, by law, cannot be challenged either through an administrative process or the courts. So you are stuck with whatever the Sec HHS decides. That means:
A sprawling, complex bureaucracy has been set up that will have almost absolute power to dictate terms for participating in the health-care system. That’s what the law does to government. What it does to you is worse.
Based on the administration’s own numbers, as many as 117 million people might have to change their health plans by 2013 as their employer-provided coverage loses its grandfathered status and becomes subject to the new Obamacare mandates.
Those mandates also might make your health care more expensive. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that premiums for a small number of families who buy their insurance privately will rise by as much as $2,100.
Finally, and as noted above, there is to be a huge expansion in Medicaid “paid for” by cutting care to the elderly:
To pay for this expansion, the bill takes $529 billion from Medicare, with roughly 39 percent of the cut coming from the Medicare Advantage program. This represents a large transfer of resources, sacrificing the care of the elderly in order to increase the Medicaid rolls.
Another revenue source are the “Cadillac plans” – for those who have them and pay for them, the gig’s up:
Front and center among the new taxes is the 40 percent excise tax on those lucky people with so-called Cadillac health plans. The higher insurance costs that are driven by the government mandates will push many more ordinary plans into Cadillac territory.
As we’ve discussed, the bill relies on a constant revenue stream from these insurance plans from now on, assuming everyone will pay the 40% increased cost to keep their plans. That’s not likely at all, and cutting these plans will effect millions – many of whom bought in lock, stock and barrel, to the promise “if you like your doctor and you like your plan, you can keep both”.
Look at this chart and tell me how you do that.
Yesterday a federal judge in VA ruled that the state of Virginia had “standing” to sue the federal government over the law. That, of course, means nothing more than the lawsuit moves forward, but it is an important first step in repealing this monstrosity or at least the more intrusive and odious parts of it. Obviously it doesn’t ensure success in that endeavor and the White House typically believes it is on the side of angels and the Constitution when it comes to running our lives.
We’ll see. But clearly Nancy Pelosi was right when she said “we have to pass the bill to see what’s in the bill”. Now that we have this chart, we know what’s in the bill – the largest power grab by the federal government since the income tax.
“Change” you can believe in, huh?
A very interesting sentence in the judge’s injunction against the Arizona immigration law caught my eye yesterday. In her ruling, which voided much of the law, Judge Susan Bolton said:
“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” she said.
Of course the real status quo is federal non-enforcement of immigration laws – thereby driving the state of Arizona and other states to take matters into their own hands.
That’s not the status quo Judge Bolton is talking about, but it is the reality of immigration enforcement in this country.
This obviously isn’t the end of the road for the law, but I’d guess it’s on life support as the appeals process goes forward. Bolton’s ruling is likely to reflect how the other levels of the federal judiciary will rule on the law.
I have to admit to being a bit surprised that she ruled against law enforcement checking immigration status while processing someone for a different reason and left intact the portion of the law making it a crime to stop a vehicle in traffic or block traffic to hire someone off the street. However she did block a provision that barred illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.
On the political side of things, AZ’s Democratic Attorney General, a possible candidate for governor, thinks he has a winner:
Terry Goddard, the Arizona attorney general who opposed the law and is a possible Democratic opponent to Ms. Brewer, was quick to condemn her for signing it. “Jan Brewer played politics with immigration, and she lost,” he said in a statement.
Brewer can only hope he keeps saying that until the election, because I’d guess – as much of a hot button as this is in AZ and because of the overwhelming support of the AZ voters – it’s really a loser for Goddard and the Democrats.
Even John McCain and Jon Kyle weighed in on the ruling:
“Instead of wasting taxpayer resources filing a lawsuit against Arizona and complaining that the law would be burdensome,” Mr. McCain said in a joint statement with Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, “the Obama administration should have focused its efforts on working with Congress to provide the necessary resources to support the state in its efforts to act where the federal government has failed to take responsibility.”
But of course, the failure of the administration to take responsibility is the ‘status quo’, and it appears, unfortunately, that it will be “preserved”.