With the Democrat-controlled Congress steamrolling its way to "history" through constitutional skulduggery and a collective ignorance of the wishes of its constituency, a potential legal battle looms on the horizon.
In light of the "Cornhusker Kickback" - in which the Senate secured its precious 60th vote in Ben Nelson of Nebraska for Health Care Reform (HCR) passage - 10 of the nations 19 Republican State Attorneys General have formed a coalition poised to issue a serious constitutional challenge to final passage of the bill. Predictably, Democrats have already begun to prepare their cookie-cutter defense, accusing the group of partisan obstructionism.
Nelson, who was the lone Democrat holdout on passage of the bill in the Senate, was bought out by the leadership in the form of a promise to force the other 49 states to subsidize Nebraska's state share of the Medicaid expansion. South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, a Republican, is heading the group of State Attorneys General in challenging the constitutional authority of the federal government to offer such preferential treatment to one state at the expense of others.
McMaster received a letter from his state Senators Lindsay Graham and Jim Demint asking his to investigate the matter. From the letter, Graham and Demint write:
“We have serious concerns about this Nebraska compromise as it results in special treatment for only one state in the nation at the expense of the other 49. While South Carolina has to struggle to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with the massive new Medicaid mandate, Nebraska does not have to come up with a single dollar.”With McMaster and a handful of his Republican counterparts set to run for governor in 2010, the Democrats are claiming that this challenge is nothing more than a cheap "political stunt" designed to further advance the political careers of these AG's. In light of the about-face exhibited by Ben Nelson, this is disingenuous, to say the least.
Nelson was opposed to the health care bill on many levels, and vowed to vote against it. What changed? Did the language in the bill change? No, Ben Nelson got a sweetheart deal for his state - something that has enraged his constituency back home and the leadership of that state - and he sacrificed whatever shred of integrity he may have had. In an ABC interview, Nelson had this to say on his stance at the time:
"Well, first of all, it has more than a robust public option, it's got a totally government-run plan, the costs are extraordinary associated with it, it increases taxes in a way that will not pass in the Senate and I could go on and on and on. Faced with a decision about whether or not to move a bill that is bad, I won't vote to move it. For sure."Can you say, "Read my lips"?
McMaster says that more State Attorneys General are expected to join the current coalition of ten, and it remains to be seen how successful they are in the endeavor. Meanwhile, regarding the "great job" Nelson did for his state, of the savings he secured for Nebraska, Governor David Heineman says "keep the money", telling Politico.com:
“The last few days have made Nebraskans so angry that now it’s a matter of principle. The federal government can keep that money.”Also from Politico.com
With the Senate set to pass its version of the health care bill before breaking for Christmas, Alabama GOP Attorney General Troy King predicted that the probe would wrap up in the next few days.So with speed set to confront haste, let the games begin. Sphere: Related Content
“I think we’re moving rapidly,” he told POLITICO. “We’ve got to move quickly. We don’t have a choice.”