Driving the Week: Obamacare, Budget, and Senate Politics

The big story this week will of course be the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Obama’s government takeover of the healthcare industry. The court will hear an unprecedented six hours of oral arguments spread across three days (Monday through Wednesday) and will render a decision sometime this summer. The Supreme Court will hear three cases against Obamacare and will consider the following four legal questions:

  • Whether the Anti-Injunction Act prohibits parties from challenging the minimum coverage provision, or individual mandate, at this time;
  • Whether Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in enacting the minimum coverage provision—that is, whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional;
  • Whether, if the mandate to purchase minimum coverage is unconstitutional, the mandate can be severed from the rest of the [new law] such that portions of the statute remain in effect; and,
  • Whether Congress’s threat to withhold all federal funding under Medicaid, the single largest grant-in-aid program, in order to impose onerous conditions on the States that it could not impose directly constituted “coercion” and thereby exceeded Congress’s enumerated powers and violated basic principles of federalism.

Of course, the question everyone is wondering is whether the Supreme Court will render the individual mandate unconstitutional. The Heritage Foundation has written at length about the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate, but no matter the Court’s decision, Obamacare must be repealed. The law increases the cost of healthcare, raises taxes, limits access to care and grants sweeping power to federal bureaucrats at the expense of individuals. Whether the Court decides it’s constitutional or not doesn’t change those facts.

Inside the House:

Also taking place this week, the House of Representatives will vote on the FY2013 Ryan budget. The budget is expected to pass, as it is a clear alternative to President Obama’s tax-and-spend budget. The Ryan budget, in contrast, spends less and lowers taxes for all Americans. While much work is needed to restore our economy, this is a bold step in the right direction. The Republican Study Committee will also offer a budget (more on that later).

Inside the Senate:

The Senate will possibly vote on two bills this week. The first continues the practice of government picking winners and losers in the energy industry by removing “subsidies” from oil and gas companies (in actuality removing tax credits afforded to a broad range of manufacturing industries, thereby setting them up for punitive tax increases simply because liberals do not like them). The bill will then increase subsidies for failing, alternative energy industries that are favored by big-government politicians. In the end, industries which cannot survive on their own will win, and consumers – the American people – will lose.

Following this vote, the Senate may move on to a postal “reform” bill. This is not reform. It is a taxpayer funded bailout that puts taxpayers at risk for future losses as the United States Post Office continues to bleed money due to high pension costs while doing very little to address the problem.

Heritage Action will keep you informed throughout the week on these issues and more, so check back often!

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