First we got the surprise announcement today that Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith has switched to the Republican Party because of the Democratic leadership’s stand on the health care reform bill. This makes things a bit embarrassing for the Democratic leadership:
Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith announced Tuesday that he’s switching parties – saying he can no longer align himself “with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy and drives us further and further into debt.”
“Unfortunately there are those in the Democratic Leadership that continue to push an agenda focused on massive new spending, tax increases, bailouts and a health care bill that is bad for our healthcare system,” Griffith said in a statement. “I have always considered myself to be an independent voice and I have tried to be that voice in Congress – but after watching this agenda firsthand I now believe that the differences in the two parties could not be more clear and that for me to be true to my core beliefs and values I must align myself with the Republican party and speak out clearly on these issues.
Griffith’s party switch comes on the eve of a pivotal congressional health care vote and will send a jolt through a Democratic House Caucus that has already been unnerved by the recent retirements of a handful of members who, like Griffith, hail from districts that offer prime pickup opportunities for the GOP in 2010.
Good for him.
Update: Video of Griffith’s announcement is here.
But there are more problems for the Democrats, and that is this bill faces a slew of law suits should it pass because there are so many constitutional issues with it. Senator Ensign has already expressed concern about the constitutionality of requiring people to purchase health insurance as a requirement for living in the US.
Earlier today I was in my car listening to Karl Rove on Fox News talk about the deals that some states secured. In Florida, senior citizens won’t experience cuts to their Medicare plans, whereas seniors everywhere else will. To me this was a clear violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The same goes for the Nebraska deal. It seems others were thinking the same thing:
On the first issue, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., on Tuesday renewed the call to examine the constitutionality of whether the federal government can require Americans to purchase a product.
“I don’t believe Congress has the legal or moral authority to force this mandate on its citizens,” Ensign said in a statement, raising what’s known as a “constitutional point of order.” Such procedural challenges are rare and typically lead to a vote.
The non-profit Fund for Personal Liberty, as well as a Virginia-based group called the 10th Amendment Foundation, already have threatened to file suit in federal court over this issue if the health care bill passes.
The Constitution allows Congress to tax, borrow, spend, declare war, raise an army and regulate commerce, among other things. Proponents of the insurance mandate point to the Commerce Clause in arguing that Congress is within its rights to require health insurance and dismiss such potential legal challenges.
But foes say the across-the-board requirement is too broad.
“I personally do not believe the Congress has the authority to enact an individual mandate requiring a person to purchase a product from a private seller,” said Kent Masterson Brown, lead counsel with The Fund for Personal Liberty. “I don’t think the power is there. This is not regulating anything.”
He said his group would be joined by the Washington Legal Foundation in filing suit against the health care bill.
“This thing may be stillborn, even if it passes,” he said.
Even though Obama argues that the mandate is similar to laws requiring drivers to obtain auto insurance, opponents cite several key differences. First, the auto insurance mandate is avoidable, since anyone who doesn’t want to pay doesn’t have to drive. Second, auto insurance is mandated in large part so that drivers carry liability insurance to cover damages to other people and cars — not themselves. Third, auto insurance regulation occurs at the state level.
Clearly, this is why the Democrats have been so secretive about this bill, but what’s so ridiculous is that Reid, Pelosi, et al could not keep this secret for long. What’s especially preposterous is Senator Chuck Schumer’s assertion that the Democrats’ poll numbers will go up once the American people find out what’s in the bill. If this were truly the case, the Democrats would have been screaming the contents of this bill from the mountain tops.
There’s a reason why they haven’t, and it’s because this contents of this bill will make the vast majority of the American people very unhappy.