Decompensation department

Mitt Romney foams at the mouth in helpless rage.

Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Mitt Romney, speaking from The Corner, where he was sent, no doubt, for a time-out:

America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation — rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends. He promised better; we deserved better.

He calls his accomplishment “historic” — in this he is correct, although not for the reason he intends. Rather, it is an historic usurpation of the legislative process — he unleashed the nuclear option, enlisted not a single Republican vote in either chamber, bribed reluctant members of his own party, paid-off his union backers, scapegoated insurers, and justified his act with patently fraudulent accounting. What Barack Obama has ushered into the American political landscape is not good for our country; in the words of an ancient maxim, “what starts twisted, ends twisted.”

His health-care bill is unhealthy for America. It raises taxes, slashes the more private side of Medicare, installs price controls, and puts a new federal bureaucracy in charge of health care. It will create a new entitlement even as the ones we already have are bankrupt. For these reasons and more, the act should be repealed. That campaign begins today.

“Betrayed his oath”?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

26 thoughts on “Decompensation department”

  1. Irony Department

    This is coming from the fellow who crafted the State model that most closely resembles the instant bill? If irony could be used as iron, we'd put the Chinese out of business for a century with this one.

  2. Romney is presumably psychologically healthier than he acts, & has just concluded he has to act like he has a mental disorder to appeal to voters.

  3. He's going to/has sign a revenue bill originating in the Senate. So, yes, he's betraying his oath of office, as he should veto it on that basis alone. Admittedly, that's a common betrayal, but this bill has a lot more unconstitutional features, for anybody who's touchstone for what's constitutional isn't, "What will the courts likely let us get away with?"

    I would only add that Obama is not, by that standard, the only recent President to have betrayed his oath of office. But he's no less guilty for having company.

  4. By all means, I think the Republicans should campaign on that: "Obama signed a revenue bill that originated in the Senate." Assuming it were, true, which it isn't since the Senate amended a House bill to pass their version of HCR. A procedure which has stood the test of time and the court system.

  5. The Daily Beast this morning asks, "Is This the End of Mitt Romney? It is conceivable that President Obama will be able to kill off one of his biggest 2012 rivals with a single sentence: 'I would like to thank Mitt Romney for coming up with ideas on which I based health-care reform.' …"

  6. But Brett – thanks for playing! Help your self to a big, heaping play of 'Loser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!' on your way out.

  7. "Assuming it were, true, which it isn’t since the Senate amended a House bill to pass their version of HCR."

    Yup, and if I pry a VIN tag off a wrecked Corvette in the junkyard, and pop rivet it to my Olds 88, I'm entitle to claim that it's really a modified Corvette, too. Right? The only part of that bill that 'orginated in the House' was the bill number the Senate ripped off from an unrelated bill.

    That's the sort of BS sophistry that lies at the core of corruption in our government.

  8. That's a remarkably pathetic objection Brett, and what's sadder is that you know it.

    The House passed a bill, the Senate passed a bill, and they compromised on the result. It ended up looking more like the Senate version, but that isn't a constitutional violate and you're perfectly aware of that.

  9. And you've just demonstrated the intellectual corruption of our political class: There are huge swaths of the Constitution which you just flat out don't mind being violated, because they're inconvenient, and you don't figure they're all that important. But you're not willing to come out and ADMIT that you don't mind the Constitution being violated when it inconveniences you, because you like to pretend you value the rule of law, and because the hypocrisy of it all would be thrown in your face the next time you complained about the other side violating the Constitution.

    So you pretend that constitutional violations aren't, no matter how pathetic the rationalizations have to be to maintain the pretense.

  10. Poor Mitt. If he weren't a Mormon, I'd think he'd probably be drunk out of depression. You just know that every single one of his major challengers in the 2012 Republican primaries is going to tie both Mass-care and the new health care law around his neck and hang him with it. They'll talk up how his efforts "inspired ObamaCare" and the like.

    He’s going to/has sign a revenue bill originating in the Senate.

    Don't be ridiculous. He's signing a bill that originated in the House, was changed to look like the Senate bill, and which was voted on by the House (and now the Senate). There's nothing unconstitutional about it.

  11. Keep saying that, and keep think that the ingrained intellectual dishonesty necessary to superficially believe it, don't have any consequences. You'll be wrong, but at least comfortably so.

    That's what I care about: I think that the mindset necessary to routinely violate large parts of the Constitution, while maintaining the pretense that it's being followed, is corrosive to the possiblity of honest government. Doublethink of this sort has it's consequences, and we see them on display every day in Washington.

  12. Brett: The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) was introduced in the House, and then the Senate struck out the entire text of the bill and inserted its own version. A taxpayer sued, arguing that since the House version did not have a tax increase but the Senate version did, TEFRA was an unconstitutional violation of the origination clause. The Ninth Circuit ruled against him in Armstrong v. United States, citing Flint v. Stone.

  13. Yes, I have never been impressed with the various "neener, neener" doctrines. It's hardly startling that a judiciary, every member of whom had to be confirmed by the Senate, is insanely reluctant to enforce constitutional clauses the Senate finds irksome. That failure to enforce hardly repeals such clauses, or demands that everyone else pretend the judiciary hasn't shirked it's duty.

    Legal realism? It's the legal community's version of Papal infalibity. Only the Senate hasn't worked up the nerve yet to claim to be divine. Who am I going to believe, the courts or my lying eyes?

    The latter. The health care 'reform' bill originated in the Senate. Despite that VIN tag I pinched, I'm not driving a Corvette.

  14. Brett, do you admit that the Origination Clause permits the Senate to amend a House-originated revenue-raising bill? Is there some court ruling on the scope of the power that you reject?

  15. Yes, indeed, I do. But differences of degree can become so large as to be differences of kind, and when an amendment replaces everything except the bill number, I think it fair to say that line, wherever it is, has been crossed.

  16. Fine. What identity conditions do you think the Constitution imposes; how specifically do we know that the amended bill is the same bill? I assume you think every piece of legislation passed by this shell-bill technique violates the Constitution?

  17. By the way, another area of unconstitutionality, and this time I've got the Supreme court on my side: Perhaps you recall that the Brady bill ordered state and local law enforcement to perform background checks. This was challenged, and the Supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional, under the 10th, for the federal government to order actions by state officers. I'm fairly certain the recently signed law runs afoul of that ruling, given the extent to which it simply orders state compliance on some matters, instead of the usual heavy handed financial threats.

    Might want to read up on Printz v. United States, and New York v. United States:

    "We adhere to that principle today, and conclude categorically, as we concluded categorically in New York: "The Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program.""

    Seems right on point, as far as the law's commanding the states to do certain things is concerned. Gonna tell me that this time the Supreme court was wrong?

  18. "I assume you think every piece of legislation passed by this shell-bill technique violates the Constitution?"

    Only revenue bills, since the issue of the origination clause is involved.

  19. Right, every piece of legislation passed by this shell-bill technique of addressing Origination Clause issues. Again, what identity conditions, in place of numerical identity, do you think the Constitution requires for determining whether a bill amended by the Senate is the same bill sent from the House?

  20. I don't see the need to get into this: You're asking me how to distinguish off white from eggshell, when what we're confronted with in this case is a black hole's event horizon: The only thing that came from the House was the bill number, from a bill that wasn't even on the same topic!

  21. Brett, you need to be able to give some sort of identity condition, to state a reason why the established reliance on numerical identity is Constitutionally impermissible. Otherwise you've got, among other things, as sorites problem.

  22. No, I don't. All I need to do is point out that there must be SOME point to requiring revenue bills to originate in the House, and no conceivable point could be satisfied if we permit a procedure where an unrelated House bill has it's number assigned to a Senate bill.

    It's the sort of procedure that can be accepted as legitimate only by somebody who wants the origination clause to be rendered completely moot. And it's a standard rule of interpretation that clauses must NOT be interpreted so as to leave them void of effect.

    This isn't a marginal case, it's a slam dunk unless you're determined that the origination clause never have any effect. That determination is bad faith in action.

    Read Printz or New York yet?

  23. Reasons for a rule can be only so good if we can’t say what, specifically, the rule permits, or distinguish cases that conform to it from cases that fall outside it. It may be there’s a good reason for some sort of rule requiring origination in the House, but for that good reason to bear on the interpretative problem at hand it must bear on the same rule contemplated by the Constitution. The question here is what the Constitution requires, not whether you or I think some unspecified, possibly quite other, rule has some point. You misunderstand me: I don’t want the Origination Clause to be moot. If it were crafted differently, & imposed more stringent identity conditions on amended bills, I suspect the Congress would adapt perfectly well, & so would I. I doubt it would've prevented passage of health care reform, or much of the other legislation that was passed in the same way. But the actual rule is weak. Standard rules of Constitutional interpretation don't require us to interpret the Origination Clause to say more than it does. Standing law doesn’t leave it entirely void of effect, but it – the logic of the Constitution – renders it less binding than you think a good rule should be (although even the requirement of numerical identity isn’t nothing). If you want more, blame the drafters.

    Are you suggesting I’m in bad faith? Everyone else who accepts standing law on the subject? One doesn't want to become a crank.

  24. Brett, the point of a rule can't be very compelling if we can't say what it says or permits, or distinguish cases that conform to it from ones that don't. Do we even know it's possible to come up w/ identity conditions that satisfy your intuitions? I may agree there's a good (albeit so far unstated) reason for some rule requiring origination in the House, but for that good reason to bear on the legal question, that good rule has to be the same one actually set out in the law. The question here is what the Constitution requires, not whether you or I think some unspecified, unknown (to you), & possibly quite other, rule has some point. You misunderstand me: I don't want the Origination Clause to be moot. If it were crafted differently, & imposed more stringent identity conditions on amended bills, I suspect Congress would adapt perfectly well. (I doubt it would've prevented the passage of health care reform, or all the other law passed the same way.) But some rules, by accident or design, turn out to be weak – weaker than you might have hoped -, & this rule is one of them. Standard principles of Constitutional interpretation don't require us to interpret it to say more than it does. Standing law doesn't leave it entirely void of effect, it just renders it less constraining on the democratic will than you think it should be. Blame the drafters.

    Do you think everyone who accepts standing law on the subject acts in bad faith? Or just me? One doesn't want to be a crank.

  25. This Brett Bellmore person seems to have a lot of time on his hands. Are you unemployed Brett?

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