A large number of Senators went on record tonight opposing ObamaCare. The House spoke on a bipartisan basis on a measure to fully repeal the President’s health care law by 56 votes last month. Just yesterday, a Florida federal court issued a decision declaring the individual mandate, and the whole law, unconstitutional. If one of the many cases challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare makes it to the Supreme Court, move the President’s health care reform law into critical condition.
Tonight, the Senate voted 47-51 on an amendment to repeal ObamaCare that was offered to S. 223, the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. The amendment was offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The McConnell Amendment, SA 13, would have repealed both the ObamaCare bill (P.L. 111-148) and the reconciliation measure containing provisions modifying the ObamaCare bill (P.L. 111-152). Both laws constitute the whole of ObamaCare.
The text of the McConnell repeal language in the amendment is below:
SEC. X02. REPEAL OF THE JOB-KILLING HEALTH CARE LAW AND HEALTH CARE-RELATED PROVISIONS IN THE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2010.
(a) Job-Killing Health Care Law.–Effective as of the enactment of Public Law 111-148, such Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.
(b) Health Care-Related Provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.–Effective as of the enactment of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152), title I and subtitle B of title II of such Act are repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such title or subtitle, respectively, are restored or revived as if such title and subtitle had not been enacted.
The Senate debate on this amendment touched on the subjects of the unconstitutional individual mandate, growing discontent with the law and massive new regulations authorized by the law. Other Senators discussed free market alternatives to ObamaCare and the fact that companies with the best lobbyists are securing waivers for specific companies. The debate was an excellent view into the developing arguments for a full repeal of the President’s health care law.
Senator David Vitter (R-LA) argued that this bill is tragically flawed because at the core of this law is an unconstitutional mandate that all Americans be forced to buy a product.
We want full repeal of Obamacare for a very simple reason: the big problems with the bill, the big problems with the plan aren’t at the margin, they’re at the core. The big problems can’t be fixed with a perfecting amendment, the changing of a comma, changing punctuation, revising one or two or five or ten sentences. The big problems are at the core of the plan, starting with the mandate from the federal government, unprecedented, that every man, woman, and child in America needs to go into the market and buy a particular product. That’s why we demand repeal.
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) responded to that point that now people are finding out what is in the bill, they don’t like it.
Since the passage and signing of the law by President Obama, the American people are finding out something new that is in the bill that they don’t like, and as a matter of fact, it turns out that members of the House and Senate who voted for Obamacare also did not know precisely what was in the bill and certainly did not anticipate the ramifications of this massive, ill-advised law.
Senator John Ensign (R-NV) argued that the regulations are already overburdening the American people and have exploded to over six thousand pages.
I’ve printed off many of the regulations in the bill here before us today. Look at the size of this thing, and they’re not even close to being done writing the regulations. I challenge anybody with any company or any American to try to understand this bill and its regulations. It’s virtually impossible. It takes a team of lawyers and health care experts to even come close to understanding all the implications of this bill, according to my staff’s calculations, so far about 6,200 pages in regulations. This could go to at least 26,000 pages. I think it is safe to say the devil really is in the details with this health bill. The American people are going to learn more about the unintended consequences of this legislation as more and more of these regulations roll out.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) argued for free market health care reform and discussed how Lasik eye surgery and the cost of contacts have gone down because of competition.
With regard to the specifics of the health care bill, there are some problems in health care. As a physician, I’ve seen some of the problems. You know what the number-one complaint I got? It was the expense of health insurance, the rising expenses. The federal takeover of health care did nothing for that; in fact it has increased expenses, you see premiums rising. When you see problems there are two directions to go…You could say: do we need more government or less government? From my perspective as a physician, I saw that we already had too much government involvement in health care. I saw that what we had going on limited competition. You need more competition in health care if you want to drive prices down. You need to allow insurance to be sold across state lines. You need to allow competition in prices. One of the surgeries that I did was lasik surgery, where you correct someone’s eyes so they don’t have to wear glasses. No insurance covers it. You think maybe this body will get together and force people to buy insurance for lasik surgery? You know what? Without government getting involved competition drove the prices down on lasik. The prices were driven down because the consumer was involved. The same way with contact lenses, you can buy a contact lens for $4, maybe $3. It used to be $20 or $30. Competition works.
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) pointed out that the Obama Administration has doled out 733 waivers for friends of the Obama Administration. DeMint argues that repeal would be a waiver for all Americans.
Many Americans will lose their health plans with Obamacare, but you can keep your health care plan if your union or company got one of the 733 Obamacare waivers so far. The waivers cover almost 2.2 million people. You can get your health care or you can keep it if you’re a member of the six chapters of the Service Employees International Union who got waivers and whose political action committee spent more than $27 million helping Barack Obama get elected, or if you’re one of the 8,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union that got waivers. Their PAC spent millions in helping Obama and Democrats get elected. These are unions who supported cramming Obamacare down the throat of the rest of Americans. Even though labor unions represent less than 7% of the private work force, they have received 40% of the waivers. They don’t want the health care, they want other Americans to have it; they don’t want the health care that other Americans have to accept. Most Americans don’t play these political games. They don’t have lobbyists and PACs, but I think they should all get a waiver too. I think we should name this repeal bill that we will vote on today ‘the great American waiver.’ Every Republican in the Senate is committed to repealing this bill. Every American gets a waiver when we repeal this bill
The House passed H.R. 2 on January 19, 2011 by a 245–189 vote. This bill is still on the Senate’s calendar after Senator McConnell used the provisions Rule 14 to put the bill on the Senate’s calendar. McConnell still can move to proceed to that measure at anytime during this Congress. The vote today was not the last vote the Senate will have on a full repeal of ObamaCare.
The judicial branch of the federal government is having their say and two federal courts have concluded that the individual mandate within ObamaCare is unconstitutional. Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida struck down ObamaCare because of the individual mandate yesterday.
Judge Vinson wrote the following:
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be ‘difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power’ and we would have a Constitution in name only.
Judge Vinson sided with Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming to hold that “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” is unconstitutional.
Conn Carroll of The Foundry argues that this idea needs to be expunged from the law books.
The United States economy, and the American people, cannot wait for the Supreme Court to render a final decision. Obamacare is not just a judicial question. It is a fundamental question about what kind of country we want to live in. Do we want an America of limited government and vibrant economic growth? Or do we want to move toward an unlimited European-style welfare state?
Mike Franc, Vice President for Government Relations at The Heritage Foundation argues that the Obama Administration should listen to the Florida court and suspend ObamaCare.
Now, the White House faces a simple and straightforward choice: Will President Obama abide by a decision arrived at by a federal district court judge pursuant to all applicable federal procedural niceties, or, unilaterally ignore the rule of law, as he has done in the past?
Any way you look at the issue, ObamaCare is in serious condition with the American people, the federal judiciary and Congress. If President Obama does not take the many legal and political challenges to his unconstitutional health care law seriously, he may force the federal Courts and the Congress to take extraordinary measures to erase ObamaCare from the Federal Code. Hopefully cooler heads prevail on the President to do the right thing, listen to the American people, the courts and Congress – repeal ObamaCare right now.