Morning Action: This Big News This Week Is Marriage
MARRIAGE. This week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday and Wednesday on an issue that has profound implications for society as they may or may not contend that the Constitution has within it a right for same-sex couples to marry:
On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments in a challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8.
If they want to — and that’s a big “if” — the justices will have an opening in the case to declare that the Constitution ensures a right to same-sex marriage in every state.
Wednesday’s case is a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that prohibits same-sex couples from receiving any federal benefits for married couples (such as tax preferences and military burials).
The Heritage Foundation has weighed in heavily on this matter. Marriage is a fundamental institution of society, between one man and one woman, which is the ultimate limiting factor on big government. It is based on the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage rejects these truths.
Moreover, “nothing in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence suggests that the right of same-sex couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages is so fundamental as to be protected by the Constitution’s Due Process Clause” or the Equal Protection Clause.
OBAMACARE. Obamacare was not left untouched in the Senate’s vote-a-rama last week, though the votes on budget resolutions are nonbinding:
Of the more than 100 amendments considered, more than 20 were related to health care, Medicare or the health reform law, which President Barack Obama signed three years ago today.
The vote-a-rama, because it allows an unlimited number of amendments, met lawmakers’ pent-up demand for politically charged votes on the law. But because the votes on a budget resolution are nonbinding, the law is pretty much exactly where it was before voting started on Friday.
The amendments do, however, serve as important test votes for lawmakers to determine which repeal measures might have enough support for passage on a future bill. And opponents of the law say the symbolism can’t be missed.
As Dan Holler explains, that Obamacare is going to have an increasingly negative effect:
Skyrocketing premiums will make it very hard for some people to keep their insurance. If those drop their plans and flee to the non-existent, but sure to be convoluted, government-run exchanges, Obamacare will be to blame.
Repeal measures might start looking better and better to lawmakers.
OBAMA. This should not be astonishing, but approval for Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy has continued to decline:
But with more budget battles approaching, over raising the nation’s borrowing limit and perhaps reaching a grand bargain, Mr. Obama’s advantage over Congressional Republicans has all but vanished. Public approval of his handling of the economy has slipped, according to polls, and surveys now show that a roughly equal number of Americans favor Mr. Obama as favor Congressional Republicans on economic matters.
In December 2012 and January 2013, polls found that roughly half of Americans had more faith in Mr. Obama’s economic stewardship, while just over a third of respondents said they had more faith in the economic stewardship of Congressional Republicans. Since December, however, Mr. Obama’s standing has declined by roughly 10 percentage points, while Republicans in Congress have gained 4 or 5 percentage points.
The budget plan passed 50-49 at about 5 a.m. after a marathon voting session in the Democratic-controlled chamber. Four Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in 2014 joined all the Senate Republicans in opposing the measure, which seeks to raise nearly $1 trillion in new tax revenues by closing some tax breaks for the wealthy.
Liberal media describe the Senate’s budget as one that prioritizes “boosting near-term job growth and preserving social safety net programs” while the Ryan budget, they opine, would “reach a small surplus by 2023 through deep cuts to healthcare and social programs that aid the elderly and the poor.”
These rhetorical characterizations are based on liberal ideology and ignore the realities that the refusal to reform healthcare and social programs will leave the elderly, the poor, and all Americans with massive debt and deficits, a weakened economy, and failed healthcare and social programs.
AGRICULTURE. Farm and agriculture policy is concretely affected by powerful lobbyist groups:
Congress holds the purse strings, but who holds Congress these days when it comes to farm policy: the meatpackers and Monsanto?
So it seemed last week as lawmakers sent the White House an updated budget for the Agriculture Department complete with industry-backed orders on how Secretary Tom Vilsack should run the place.
Vilsack’s own reaction suggests he has doubts about the amendment’s legal standing.
“Secretary Vilsack has asked the Office of General Council to review this provision,” the department told POLITICO, “As it appears to pre-empt judicial review of a deregulatory action which may make the provision unenforceable.”
Yet for all the anger — and belated legal reviews — no one can truly be surprised by the packers’ success nor Monsanto’s. Indeed the collapse of the traditional appropriations process in Congress may magnify the power of single-interest lobbies that have the money and skill to stay focused on their goals.