Monday, January 11, 2010

Democrats Ignore the People, Republicans and the Constitution

The House of Representatives returned to Washington this week to kick off the second session of the 111th Congress--after a first half that hardly left Americans begging for more.

Although the Senate isn't slated to return until next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will use these first few days to get a head start on the messy negotiations that await both chambers on the health care bill.

Before the leadership can put this controversial issue in its rearview mirror, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have to navigate through the touchy process of merging the two bills. And right now, that "process" isn't scheduled to include Republicans.

Instead of taking the legislation to conference, where members could iron out their differences in the open, a handful of Democrats have decided to hole up in the leader's office and hash out the $2.5 trillion plan on their own.

While the Democrats try to piece together the final health care overhaul legislation, they're ignoring people, procedures, and now the U.S. Constitution.

A number of scholars are claiming that both bills violate America 's guiding document. Three such experts--Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Family Research Council Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell, and Ken Klukowski of the American Civil Rights Union--outlined the problem in the Wall Street Journal.

As they point out in their op-ed, the Constitution doesn't give Congress the power to mandate that Americans purchase health insurance.

Secondly, the Senate version includes several deals to secure the votes of some undecided senators. This kind of selective spending, which targets certain states, runs afoul of the general welfare clause.

Lastly, the legislation cannot order that the states establish things like benefit exchanges. Otherwise, Congress is rendering states as nothing more than subdivisions of the federal government.

- Tony Perkins

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