Constitution, Congress, Supreme Court, and Voters

On Thursday this past week, the Supreme Court ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is a Constitutionally valid law, but only with an explanation that the individual mandate is actually a tax instead of a penalty.  This is after the Administration and Congress have repeatedly lied stated and continues to do so that the individual mandate is either a fee or a penalty depending on which side you fall upon.  From the New York Times:

…Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., joined by the Supreme Court’s four most liberal justices, wrote the majority opinion that upheld the individual mandate in President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, which requires Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. In an ironic twist, the chief justice simultaneously accepted the conservative argument that Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce did not include the power to regulate economic inactivity, like a decision not to purchase health care. The court ruled 5 to 4 on that point, with the chief justice joined by the court’s four other conservative justices.

But what Chief Justice Roberts took from Congress with one hand, he gave it with the other: a broad reading of the taxing power. In the majority opinion, he wrote that since paying a penalty for not obtaining insurance could be seen as a tax, and since “the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

The Supreme Court has now ruled that the Constitution does not prevent Congress from passing a bad law or lying about the purpose/method of the law to the public.  The bottom line – Congress and the President of the United States can lie to the American people in order to pass legislation that is, in fact, is a tax.  And the ultimate responsibility of the voters is to hold the elected accountable for their actions.  Chief Justice Roberts states:

“Members of this court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments.  Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

We have already seen some of the backlash in the last election cycle – many of the politicians up for reelection during the last cycle found themselves on the outside looking in.  With the Court’s ruling that the mandate is indeed a tax, more of the law’s supporters may find themselves unemployed after the next election.

This law remains unpopular with the people of this country.  Scott Rasmussen reports that 54% of the voters want this law repealed, and that was before the Supreme Court’s ruling that this law enacts a tax.  I fully expect that number to rise.  Scott Rasmussen also reports the following:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that President Obama’s health care law is constitutional keeps it alive for now. But it’s important to remember that the law has already lost in the court of public opinion. The Supreme Court ruling is a temporary reprieve more than anything else.

In March, I wrote that the health care law was doomed even if it survived the court. Looking at the data today, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion.

Fifty-four percent of voters nationwide still want to see the law repealed. That’s going to be a heavy burden for the Obama campaign to bear.

It’s hard to believe that public opinion will change between now and Election Day because opinion on the law hasn’t budged in two years. In fact, support for repeal now is exactly the same as it was when the law first passed.

Consistently, for the past two years, most voters have expressed the view that the law will hurt the quality of care, increase the cost of care and increase the federal deficit.

As a result, the fact that the law remains in place may end up hurting the president’s chances for re-election more than helping them. It gives Mitt Romney another easy target and one that can be tied directly into concerns about the economy.

If Romney wins, there is virtually no chance the existing health care law will survive.

If the president is re-elected, the law has a better chance of surviving, but it would still face an uphill struggle. Legislative battles to protect the law would most likely dominate his second term.

It is up to the People, the voters, to enact their will upon their elected representatives by writing and voting.  Yes, folks, it is up to US to hold the politician’s accountable for their actions, and to relieve them of their jobs for unsatisfactory performance.  And that is the true bottom line.

Welcome to the USSA*

With the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in favor of Obamacare, we have now moved one step closer to the *United Socialist States of America.  The Court has now ruled that Obamacare is a tax to be foisted upon the People instead of what the Congress and Administration (aka President Obama) have stated as a benefit for all just like Social Security.  Except that it’s not an equal benefit for all with the various exceptions and deals made just to get the 2,700 page monstrosity passed.

While Obamacare has been validated by the Supreme Court as Constitutional, it’s still bad legislation.  Just think about it – if there is a shortfall in the Obamacare funds, the taxes allocated for Obamacare could be raised.  Just like Social Security…

And this is by the same organization that cannot seem to run anything efficiently and under budget…and we are paying for it again and again.

We are so screwed…

Our Insane (or Inane) Government

I’ve been rather busy the past couple of weeks with work and home.  I hope that the load will lighten up soon so I can write & visit everyone’s blog more often.

But that doesn’t mean that the politics of the country have stopped its insanity, nor that life has paused.  For instance:

Obamacare Ruling Expected this Week:

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Obamacare this week.  The more and more we find out about this law, the more of an economic disaster for both business and the individual is revealed.  Whether the law is struck down in whole or in part, it’s a bad law on so many levels and should be struck down in its entirety.

After all, with the exceptions, special deals, and hidden provisions, the passage of this law is a study in the culture of political corruption that occurs in our Government every day.

Executive Privilege?:

After AG Eric Holder has delayed, misled, and otherwise lied to Congressional investigators, Congress cites the AG with contempt for not providing required documentation.  The White House (aka President Obama) invokes Executive Privilege.  Why?  David Limbaugh had this to say:

Few principles are more important to our constitutional scheme than the separation of powers, which is precisely why President Obama’s bogus assertion of executive privilege to thwart Congress’ investigation into Fast and Furious is so inexcusable.

Executive privilege is an important safeguard against congressional overreach and to preserve the separation of powers. The inherent right of the executive to protect highly sensitive information has long been recognized, and the privilege was judicially established during the Watergate era.

As such, Congress should not go on fishing expeditions against a president to score political points. But neither should a president assert the privilege to obstruct a legitimate investigation when there appears to be no colorable claim to the privilege. This trivializes the privilege and the separation of powers it is designed to protect.

Legal experts agree that the privilege applies to communications to which the president or an adviser acting on his behalf is a party. But they disagree about whether it applies to internal communications within executive agencies when neither the president nor his representative were involved in those communications.

As the communications for which the privilege is being asserted here were reportedly internal Justice Department communications, many view the privilege claim dubiously.

But even when the privilege is applicable, it is qualified and can be overcome when Congress demonstrates it has a substantial need for the information it seeks. In this case, Congress is seeking relevant information from the Justice Department, which it has been trying to obtain for more than a year.

At every turn, Attorney General Eric Holder has stonewalled and obstructed congressional investigators. He is withholding thousands of pertinent documents, using an internal investigation as cover. It was because of Holder’s persistent refusal to cooperate that Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., threatened to hold him in contempt.

At the last minute, President Obama, who had claimed from the outset that he had no prior knowledge of the operation, asserted the privilege on Holder’s behalf, as only the president can invoke this important privilege.

This is a smoke screen for purely political reasons.  President Obama cannot, at this time, throw his AG under the bus and reinforce his critics assertion that he appointed a hack to administer the Department of Justice.

As a side note, this clown has shown a remarkable lack of judgment while running the DOJ.  As Debra Saunders writes:

When Obama first took office, his DOJ sicced a special prosecutor on CIA interrogators who already had been investigated for their use of enhanced interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration — even though DOJ officials had recommended against prosecuting those operatives. It was a vindictive act against public servants who stuck out their necks to protect this country.

Holder was hell on wheels with interrogators who might have waterboarded three high-value detainees, but he has demonstrated no such scruples when it comes to the Obama administration’s reliance on drones in the war on terrorism.

Under Holder’s watch, the Drug Enforcement Administration has seized states’ supplies of sodium thiopental, a drug used in lethal injection, because the drug is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That’s just plain ridiculous.

At first, Obama’s Justice Department advised U.S. attorneys not to focus on medical-marijuana prosecutions in states that have legalized its usage. Now U.S. attorneys are raiding medical-marijuana facilities regularly.

And I still remember when this AG wanted to bring certain terrorists to NYC for trial, and to transfer terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to a facility in Illinois.  Let’s also not forget to mention that this AG wants to prosecute a certain Sherriff for arresting illegal immigrants…

Estate Tax Hike if Obama is Re-elected:

As reported by NewsMax.com:

President Barack Obama’s promise to raise the estate tax by 5 percent to 55 percent should he be re-elected in November is “not just wrong, it’s criminal,” legendary singer Pat Boone told Newsmax.TV.

“People that have worked hard, people who have saved, paid their taxes, set something away and now want to leave it to their family — if they have the bad judgment to die, the government will step over and say: ‘Thank you. We will take 55 percent of that,’ ” Boone told Newsmax in an exclusive interview on Friday.

“And if you have to sell your business, have to sell your house, have to borrow the money, you have to pay the government 55 percent of whatever was left — I think that’s just robbery. It’s not just wrong, it’s criminal. It ought to be abolished, and it must be abolished.”

So now the government has a reason to formulate the infamous “death panels” as part of Obamacare – if coverage is delayed or denied and the person kicks the bucket sooner, the government gets a bigger chunk of the estate.  Not only is this self-serving, but someone has to pay for the free cheese that is Obamacare…

Our Leaking White House:

Just some of the leaks as reported by Debra Saunders:

News reports outed a Pakistani doctor who had set up a phony vaccination program to obtain information on Osama bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad. After an unusual proceeding last month, a Pakistani official found Dr. Shakil Afridi guilty of treason and sentenced him to 33 years.

Another leak revealed that a double agent had obtained a new and improved al-Qaida underwear bomb in Yemen. That leak, Feinstein said, endangered an ally and the individual who saved American lives by procuring the bomb.

Two recent New York Times stories hyped President Barack Obama’s “will,” “pragmatism over ideology” and hands-on role in drone strikes over Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Those stories also revealed telling details about a computer worm that targeted Iranian nuclear centrifuges and the process used to cull the “kill list.”

and yet…

The Obama administration has no trouble prosecuting low-level and midlevel leakers.

Obama’s feds have prosecuted six cases, double the number prosecuted by previous presidents. Yet the Department of Justice has been slow to respond to spin stories that play up Obama’s national security acumen but also give away too much information.

Immigration Politics:

Anyone who thinks that President Obama’s directive for ignoring immigration laws for children of illegal immigrants 30-years old and below was done for humanitarian purposes is sadly mistaken.  Not only was it for political points to gather the Latino/Hispanic vote, it kicks the immigration issue down the road (again), and, most importantly, President Obama is violating the laws of the country to issue such a directive.

No President can knowingly or unknowingly violate or ignore the laws of this country.  He is not king, nor does he write the laws.  It is his Constitutional duty that he has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of this country!!  The current laws state that illegal immigrants are to be arrested & deported.  By directing the law enforcement agencies of this country to ignore the laws of this country is illegal and potentially treasonous (if our servicemen knowingly violate a legal order from a superior officer, they can be tried for treason.  The same should hold true for a President that violates or advocates breaking the laws of the United States).

The immigration issue does need to be addressed with finality, but not by Presidential directive…

Recap:

Our government is broken.  We, the People, have allowed this to happen by our inattentiveness and the assertion that “government is here to help.”  It may be too late to right the ship with the political parties in charge, but We The People must hold our elected leaders accountable no matter what political party is in power.  Otherwise, this nonsense will continue, and ruin this country to the point that it cannot be fixed.

The Economy is Doing Fine?

I know that there has been much to do about the following statement by President Obama and the following retraction walk back, but here’s one more take:

“The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”

“It’s absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine.  That’s the reason I had a press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.”

Other than the fact that there is an amateur running the country, we have yet another viewpoint of what President Obama’s vision is for the United States – The Federal Government Will Fix Everything.  You and I know that this is the farthest thing from the truth.  Government does not produce a product, and the only hiring it can do is to swell the size of government.  Otherwise, it takes tax dollars that it steals collects from it’s citizens and redistributes the money to different agencies to spend, and often, it isn’t wisely spent.  The recent scandal with the GSA is just the latest of idiocy of government gone wild with public funds.  We (and our politicians) have to realize that there is only so much money to be had to support the government’s spending spree before the bill comes due.  And the bill is coming due at the speed of an express train – just take a look at the Eurozone’s problem with collapsing banks and country’s going broke because of deficit spending (spending more than what the government collects in taxes).

But that doesn’t seem to matter with the current administration (or the Democratic Left).  Here’s a quote from an article detailing the plight of Detroit as it follows the Left’s policies to its doom:

The Left’s answer to the deficit: raise taxes to protect spending. The Left’s answer to the weak economy: raise taxes to enable new spending. The Left’s answer to the looming sovereign-debt crisis: raise taxes to pay off old spending. For the Left, every deficit is a revenue-side problem, not a spending-side problem, and the solution to every economic problem is more spending, necessitating more taxes. The problem with that way of looking at things is called Detroit, which looks to be running out of money in about one week. Detroit is what liberalism’s end-game looks like.

And from the same article, a statement about government:

The third lesson is moral. Detroit’s institutions have long been marked by corruption, venality, and self-serving. Healthy societies have high levels of trust. Who trusts Detroit? This is not angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin stuff. People do not invest in firms, industries, cities, or countries they do not trust. Corruption makes people poor.

What is true of Detroit is true of the country. Our national public sector not only is bloated and parasitic, it is less effective, less responsible, and less honest than that of many other developed countries, including New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

Indeed, do you trust our government?  I don’t, not totally, especially with the events over the past three years.  Promises made, promises broken, and the state of the country is generally worse than it was three years ago.  Here in Michigan, the unemployment rate officially stands at 8.3%, but that does not take into account people who have dropped off the unemployment rolls and/or have quit looking for jobs.  Nationally, it stands at 8.2%, and that is under the same conditions.

My personal opinion is that the politicians of both political parties are out of touch with the common working person.  Once the politicians are elected to government, we (and companies) are seen as no more than revenue sources for whatever social program or political kickback is on the politician’s radar at the time.  Green companies are the latest political kickback scheme involving political talking points and fiscal irresponsibility (follow the money for who made out on Solyndra and you will understand), and definitely did not benefit the working man as promised.

Perhaps we should look at one country who pulled their collective s*** together and got themselves out of the same predicament that we are finding ourselves heading toward at breakneck speed:  Sweden.

Americans still think of Sweden as a tightly regulated social-welfare state, but in the last two decades the country has been reformed. Public spending has fallen by no less than one-fifth of gross domestic product, taxes have dropped and markets have opened up.

From 1970 until 1989, taxes rose exorbitantly, killing private initiative, while entitlements became excessive. Laws were often altered and became unpredictable. As a consequence, Sweden endured two decades of low growth. In 1991-93, the country suffered a severe crash in real estate and banking that reduced GDP by 6 percent. Public spending had surged to 71.7 percent of GDP in 1993, and the budget deficit reached 11 percent of GDP.

The combination of the crisis and the non-socialist government under Carl Bildt from 1991 to 1994 broke the trend and turned the country around. In 1994, the Social Democrats returned to power and stayed until 2006. Instead of revoking the changes, they completed the fiscal tightening. In 2006, a non- socialist government returned, and Finance Minister Anders Borg, with his trademark ponytail and earring, has led further reforms. Sweden successfully weathered the global financial crisis that started in 2008, and the Financial Times named Borg Europe’s best finance minister last year.

Sweden’s traditional scourge is taxes, which used to be the highest in the world. The current government has cut them every year and abolished wealth taxes. Inheritance and gift taxes are also gone. Until 1990, the maximum marginal income tax rate was 90 percent. Today, it is 56.5 percent. That is still one of the world’s highest, after Belgium’s 59.4 and there is strong public support for a cut to 50 percent.

The 26 percent tax on corporate profits may seem reasonable from an American perspective, but Swedish business leaders want to reduce it to 20 percent. Tax competition is fierce in some parts of Europe. Most East European countries, for example, have slashed corporate taxes to 15-19 percent.

In the bad old days, the annual centralized-wage bargaining between the Trade Union Confederation and the Swedish Employers’ Confederation was a prized custom. But in the 1970s, this system led to both inflation and strikes. Today, it is long gone. Wage bargaining is still collective, but it is decentralized. Wage inflation is no longer a concern and strikes are extremely rare. The employers have won, but real wages are rising with productivity, so the workers are benefiting, as well. As everywhere, trade unions are losing members, money and power.

Now I certainly do not want to have my taxes raised to Sweden’s level, but without corresponding cutbacks in governmental spending and more business-friendly policies, any tax increase is counter-productive and will be stifling to any economic recovery.  And I don’t think that the TEA party advocates would sit back and agree with this either, at least without major permanent reforms in the tax and spend structure that is currently in place.

So is the economy “doing fine”?  No, but it is getting better, and the chuckleheads in Congress have the opportunity to pass budgets, regulations, and policies that will encourage real business growth instead of promoting the “industry/political cause of the week”.  Now if they would only put aside their political ideologies and do what needs to be done for the good of the country instead of themselves…