GOP Prepares To Battle Possible Obama Efforts To Make Health Changes Through Regulation
News outlets report on developing stories about the political battles over the health care law and the effort to overturn it in the courts.
The Hill: Obama Works Around Congress On Healthcare, Climate Change
Republicans are preparing an array of budgetary, legislative and political strategies to fight regulatory action by President Obama. Without Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a majority in the House, Obama is expected to rely heavily on his executive power to influence policy over the next two years. To counter that effort, Republicans hope to cut off funding for the new healthcare law and, through legislation, to block efforts by agencies to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and the Internet. "We will not allow the administration to regulate what they have been unable to legislate," Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said last week (Millman and Restuccia, 12/30).
The New York Times: Terrain Shifts In Challenges To The Health Care Law
The legal challenge to the Obama health care act has invigorated a dispute as old as the Constitution about the framers' most nettlesome grant of power, which gives Congress treacherously broad authority to pass laws "necessary and proper" to carrying out its assigned responsibilities. The cases, which are presumed to be headed to the Supreme Court, center on whether Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce is so expansive that it can require citizens to buy health insurance. But as the litigation advances, the "necessary and proper" clause is taking on greater prominence in briefs and oral arguments, with the Obama administration asserting that it shelters the insurance mandate and state officials arguing that it buries it. ... "I think it's going to be crucial," said Randy E. Barnett, a Georgetown law professor who recently filed a brief, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, that assails the insurance mandate with a necessary-and-proper argument. "The necessary-and-proper clause is always lurking in these commerce clause cases." The necessary-and-proper clause sits at the end of Article I, Section 8, after 17 paragraphs that enumerate the powers delegated to Congress, ranging from the establishment of post offices to the declaration of war. It conveys authority "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers" (Sack, 12/28).
The Washington Post: Odd Duo Takes On Health Bill
When Ron Wyden returns to the Senate next week, it will be as half of one of the most unusual duos in the Senate. The brainy Oregon Democrat and Scott Brown, the brawny Massachusetts Republican, are joining forces to tweak the Obama administration's federal health-care overhaul. ... In short, the legislation would allow states to opt out of the federal health law in 2014 instead of 2017, provided they meet minimum coverage benchmarks. The argument, Wyden said, is that the bill would give both conservatives and liberals a chance to prove their theories on how best to run health care. Conservative-leaning states antagonistic to the bill's individual mandate provisions can try more market-based models. And the more liberal states that considered the overhaul insufficiently bold can give the public option a shot (Horowitz, 12/29).
The Hill: Leading liberal: Democrats Could Be Open To 'Fix' Of Health Reform Legislation
A leading liberal lawmaker said Tuesday Democrats could be open to compromising with Republicans on a "fix" of healthcare reform - but only if congressional budget scorekeepers back off their opinion that the bill cuts the deficit. Rep. Robert Andrews's comments on Fox News come as Democrats have been accusing Republicans of being hypocritical for pushing repeal even though it would violate their campaign pledge to tackle the deficit. "If [Republicans] would make the repeal of the law contingent upon the Congressional Budget Office certifying that it wouldn't increase the deficit to repeal it," Andrews (D-N.J.) said, "maybe that is something we could compromise on." The outgoing Education and Labor health subcommittee chairman, however, made it clear he thinks that's highly unlikely. CBO, Andrews said, has already given an "authoritative opinion" that the bill reduces the deficit - "and they have not backed off that opinion at all" (Pecquet, 12/29).
The Hill: Leading Conservative Says GOP Should Keep Reform Law In Place
Charles Krauthammer, a leading conservative voice, said House Republicans should keep their hands off the healthcare reform law to avoid blame for what he thinks will be the law's inevitable failure. Realizing that a Democratic Senate and president will make their wish to repeal the entire reform law impossible, House Republicans have said they will defund the law over the next two years. However, Krauthammer, a Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor who opposes the reform law, said the defunding strategy will result in a "clumsily enacted" law, providing Democrats the opportunity to blame Republicans if it fails. "In the end, if healthcare collapses or if it becomes utterly unworkable, the Democrats will have a way of saying, 'Well, it was all these injuries inflicted by the Republicans that made it not work,'" he said on Fox News Monday (Millman, 12/29).
Gannett News Service/Salsbury, Md., Daily Times: Harris Seated On Committees
Rep.-elect Andy Harris won't be on the front lines in the GOP fight to repeal health care reform, as he had hoped. The Maryland Republican didn't get his top choice for a committee assignment, the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over public health issues. ... Harris, who campaigned on an anti-Obamacare platform, made news last month when he asked during a freshman orientation class why it would take so long for his government health insurance to kick in. The question, first reported by Politico, has become a running joke here, with David Waldman of the liberal Congress Matters website keeping a daily countdown of how many days Harris must wait "for his sweet, sweet government health care." (Gaudiano, 12/23).