Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell Announces Alaska's Intent To Join Suit Against Obamacare Health Care Bill; Primary Objection Is The Mandate
The Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2 report that after a period of careful evaluation and deliberation, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell announced on April 20th, 2010 that Alaska will become the 20th state to sue to overturn the "Obamacare" health care overhaul bill (HR 3590) signed into law by President Barack Obama. The complete list of states now includes Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington; KTUU reports that Virginia has filed a separate suit. The American Legislative Exchange Council indicates that many more states may follow suit.
Read the Department of Law's 49-page memorandum HERE or the three-page executive summary HERE.
Calling it an "unprecedented exercise of congressional power," Parnell said Alaska would join the other states in challenging as unconstitutional the mandate that people buy health care insurance. "For the first time we now have a federal government dictating our economic activity," Parnell said. "Alaska will use the courts to fight this federal encroachment on our citizens." Attorney General Daniel Sullivan said it would cost the state about $5,000 to join the lawsuit. More clarification is offered in an April 22nd KTVA story; while the $5,000 is firm, it applies only to the cost of outside legal support, and does not factor in the value of Alaska Department of Law staff time preparing the paperwork.
In the midst of a re-election campaign, Governor Parnell has been pressed by Republican challengers Ralph Samuels, Bill Walker, and Gerald Heikes to take this action. But recent polls show that Parnell is far ahead of his challengers at this point, so it is unlikely that Parnell was significantly influenced by his challengers. A majority of Alaskans are likely to support Parnell's action; on March 22nd, a KTUU Channel 2 unscientific poll of 943 respondents showed that 61.5 percent wanted the state to challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare. The number of respondents was much higher than on most KTUU polls, indicating strong public interest.
Although Senator Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young support Alaska joining the suit (Murkowski posted her response HERE), Senator Mark Begich is critical of the decision. "At a time when Alaska's unemployment rate is at record highs and families are struggling to make ends meet, the administration of Governor Sean Parnell has decided to spend countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit of dubious merit which is unlikely to be successful," Begich said. "That level of state dollars and resources could be better spent keeping our economy healthy, creating jobs for Alaskans and protecting public safety." The White House has said the suit will fail, and that the Justice Department would vigorously fight any challenges.
Of course, Senator Begich is highly selective about what he calls "overspending". For example the AidToIsrael website projects that between 2009-2018, the United States is scheduled to give Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. aid, $30 billion in military aid. Alaska's share is calculated to be $51,950,748.88. That's considerably more than $5,000, but I don't recall Senator Begich questioning that proposed expenditure, nor continued expenditures on our military adventures abroad. Begich has also not questioned the proposed hiring of 16,000 IRS agents provided for by Obamacare to ensure compliance. So he's just engaged in partisan politics.
This lawsuit could have easily been avoided if Congressional Democrats had removed the mandate from the bill. Instead, they merely deferred the mandate for several years. That's not good enough - we warned them that the mandate was the dealbreaker. And now, the states are merely backing up their warning. If we have to bog this thing down in court for years to sabotage implementation of this bill, we'll do so. Chris Matthews isn't the only one who knows how to play "Hardball".
Get rid of the mandate, and we're willing to discuss the rest of the bill.