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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Last Friday the Obama Administration asked U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, Florida for a clarification in his recent ruling that a portion of the Affordable Care Act mandate was unconstitutional.

From Bloomberg:

The federal government, in papers filed with Vinson yesterday, asked him to clarify whether that decision relieves the suing states of their rights and obligations under the act while the U.S. pursues an appeal.

“We believe it is important to put to rest any doubts about the ability of states and other parties to continue to implement these critical programs and consumer protections provided under this statute,” Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement announcing the U.S. filing.

Florida’s newly elected Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi doesn’t like this request for a clarification by the Obama Administration at all, so much so that she is “advising” the administration to just “appeal the ruling” already. She accuses the administration of “delaying tactics” by asking for a clarification.

From The Palm Beach Post:

“Department of Justice’s motion to clarify is merely an attempt to delay the process when the order clearly required a halt to implementation,” Bondi said in a statement….

….“Our memorandum states that time is of the essence in this matter, and the Court should deny the defendants’ motion for clarification as well as their thinly disguised request for a stay,” she said. “Everyone knows this case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Department of Justice should join us in seeking an expedited appeals process. This issue is too important for delay, and we urge the
President to file an appeal in the appropriate appellate court, as was done in Virginia and Michigan. It is in the country’s best interest to present this case before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

Bondi certainly seems to be in a hurry to get the case to the Supreme Court, in fact she even sounds a little desperate. Of course the U.S. Supreme Court has some  justices who seem to have what appears to be some “conflict of interest” problems and it’s widely feared that those will interfere with the legal process in the health care ruling. I suppose that could be part of the reason Republicans who want to overturn the law are in a hurry to get it to the Supreme Court.

That being said, what else is Pam Bondi so afraid of? Why the rush? People’s lives are at stake here. Don’t they deserve the very clarification the Obama Administration is requesting? Because the last time I checked, Attorney Generals were elected to serve the people of the Florida. Bondi was not elected to serve those who may have a vested interest in the outcome of rulings against the Affordable Health Care Act and who supported Bondi in her campaign, like the National Federation of Independent Business.

Bondi seems less interested in legalities, and is more selective on which rulings she chooses to follow, basically only the ones that suggest the ACA is unconstitutional. Bondi was just as thrilled with Judge Vinson’s ruling as she was thrilled with all the money the NFIB was throwing into her lawsuit. Where’s the impartiality?

But again, why is Bondi in such a hurry to want the Administration to skip that clarification and just move ahead with a hastened appeal? Perhaps this ruling on Feb. 22 that got little attention in the media had something to do with it:

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has become the third federal judge to rule that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and that Congress was within its constitutional authority to regulate health insurance under the Commerce Clause.

“We welcome this ruling, which marks the third time a court has reviewed the Affordable Care Act on the merits and upheld it as constitutional. This court found — as two others have previously — that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable measure for Congress to take in reforming our health care system. At the same time, trial courts in additional cases have dismissed numerous challenges to this law on jurisdictional and other grounds. The Department will continue to vigorously defend this law in ongoing litigation.”

Instead of looking at this ruling, Bondi has chosen to ignore it altogether and instead doubles down in urging President Obama to just forget that whole “clarification” thing and hurry along an appeal so the case can advance quickly to the Supreme Court where Republicans have reason to think they will have a more favorable outcome against the ACA.

So I ask again: just what is Pam Bondi so afraid of?

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In the wake of the ruling yesterday by Florida Judge Roger Vinson against the Affordable Care Act as “unconstitutional,” the Republican Party is absolutely beside itself with joy and cheering that the health care law is now all but defeated. Nothing to see here, move along. But as they happily bow at the feet of the health insurance companies and the lobbyists that they serve, let’s put some of this into the perspective of reality for a moment.

Yes, the ruling was troubling for those who were going to benefit from it with affordable health care that has eluded their grasp for so long. Yes, the ruling is just what the health insurance companies ordered over the recommendations of actual doctors, which is also the point. But is the Affordable Care Act really “over” as many are running victory laps are predicting? No, not necessarily. I will defer to those with more expertise on the many details of the ruling and the law like Ezra Klein does so well here.

But there’s one little thing I would like to point out here. After the ruling came out yesterday every Republican official in Florida was racing to be the first to declare the ACA a defeat and the true death panels, the health insurance companies and the Republicans who carry out their wishes, the clear winners. From our newly elected Gov. Rick “Who was Never Charged With Medicare Fraud” Scott, right down to every local Tea Bagger wannabe GOP involved in government in any way, they all rushed to crow about the ruling.

One in particular gave me pause. Newly elected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. In her news release declaring victory, she said this:

“Today’s ruling by Judge Vinson is an important victory for every person who believes in the freedoms granted to us by our Constitution,” said Attorney General Bondi. “This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional. In addition, the bipartisan effort from Attorneys General across the country shows the federal government that we will not back down from protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.”

Really? This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional.” Actually it “proves” no such thing. (Perhaps we should ask for proof of Bondi’s law degree.) What it “proves” is that one more Republican judge ruled against it. Two Democratic judges also upheld the ACA. Yet Bondi needs no more proof than this one ruling. She’s good! Thanks for playing!
That aside, it also shows that the The Family Research Council and the religious right found a judge who agrees with them so much that he used some of the very language in that ruling that they use. What a coincidence, huh?
Even beyond that, it appears that groups like The Family Research Council (also branded as a hate group by the SPLC, mind you) can have great influence on judges. Furthermore, it also appears that the religious right and The Tea Party and their corporate funders with big pockets also have “great influence”  in elections, thanks to that other court ruling: Citizens United.
Of course, there’s no “proof” of that, it just looks that way.  But hey, what do I know? I’m no Attorney General.

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Marco Rubio and David Rivera are making their respective debuts as two of the newest members in the House and Senate in Washington. How are they doing? What have they done for you lately? Well, today I thought we should play a little catch up, so here we go.

Tea Party? What Tea Party?

Starting his career in Washington, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-U-Kidding-Me-FL) made news right off the bat by giving a big brush-off to the Tea Party that were largely responsible for putting him there in the first place. When asked if he would now be joining the Tea Party Caucus, Rubio said “not so much.”

“Really what I think the strength of the tea party is that it comes from the grass-roots,” Rubio told a group of Florida reporters Wednesday in an interview in his temporary Senate office. “That it is not a political organization, it’s not something run by politicians or people seeking higher office, but rather it is a movement of every day citizens from all walks of life. That’s the strength of the tea party: that it’s not a political organization run by people out of Washington. My concern is a tea party caucus could intrude on that.”

So in other words, the Tea Baggers are a grass-roots movement to get candidates like Rubio elected, but they shouldn’t necessarily have a voice in policy making in Washington?

“Some activists have taken note of Rubio’s reluctance to join the caucus — which meets for the first time Thursday — and expressed concern; others have said he’ll be judged on how he votes.”

Just how much of an observation the Tea Party will have from their vantage point under his bus remains to be seen, but here’s a hint of things to come. One of his first announcements on Wed. was that he will co-sponsor his first bill, one which will repeal the health care law. So if the Tea Baggers really don’t want a “government takeover” of their health care, well then enjoy the symbolic gesture Rubio made yesterday. In his quest to go backwards, Rubio proves once again that he’s all about talking points and little substance.

“Thanks Mom!”

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio’s bud from South Florida, newly elected Rep. David Rivera (Re-Writing-Disclosure-Forms-FL) is in a bit of a pickle. He has begun his career in the House with lots of “splainin’ to do” over campaign donations, disclosures, “thank-you campaigns,” and hiding behind his mother and godmother’s skirts. It’s quite an involved little tale, so rather than try to bring you up to speed here, I’ll refer you to a couple of timeline summaries:

Investigators look into Rep. Rivera’s `thank you’ spending

Do The Right Thing-Step Aside

Meanwhile, new Republican House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t want so much to get involved. When asked about Rep. Rivera’s “problems” he basically washed his hands of it all.

“As I understand the allegations against Mr. Rivera, they don’t involve any of his congressional service,” Boehner said. “These were activities that took place before he was elected. And I think we’re waiting to see how this plays out.”

When asked similar questions, Marco Rubio said pretty much the same thing, in almost the same words. (Shocking, I know that Rubio would spew mere talking points from the Speaker!)

Rivera’s close friend, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, reacted similarly to Boehner: “I’m aware of the issue that’s out there but when something like that is happening, it’s always appropriate not to just comment on it and let it play itself through.”

So there you go. The month of January and the progress made by two of the newly elected members from the Republican Party of Florida. If you like corruption and going backwards in time, then they’re doing a bang up job, wouldn’t you say?

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While we listen in on the second day of the Republicans in the House making their arguments in the charade of “repealing” the health care reform law passed last year, it’s important to point out one more development in the lawsuit filed originally by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The lawsuit argues that the law is unconstitutional. In his run for the Governor’s mansion McCollum ran largely on the promise of “protecting Floridians” from health care reform. Never mind the cost to taxpayers from that very lawsuit which threatened to take away reforms that were popular among Florida voters. 20 other states joined in the lawsuit, along with business interests with a stake in the fight. Of course, McCollum lost the election to someone even worse as far as health care laws are concerned, Rick Scott, formerly known from Columbia/HCA, of Medicare fraud fame. (Scott himself was never charged with a crime.)

Today we learned that six more states have joined the lawsuit challenging the health care legislation that Republicans claim they want to “repeal and replace.” Or as some have said, actually “repeal and forget.” That’s now a total of 26 states jumping on the lawsuit bandwagon: Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Maine.

Not exactly surprising, many state officials who joined the lawsuit may have pretty good reasons for doing so. Like their Republican colleagues in the House who, as I write are grandstanding in their effort for “repeal,” they are big beneficiaries of campaign contributions from, wait for it….the health care industry!

From The Center For Public Integrity:

The state officials who joined together to file a lawsuit challenging federal health care reform have collectively received at least $5 million in campaign contributions from the health industry over the course of their political careers, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

Using data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the Center found that top recipients of industry money include Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has received more than $1 million from health care professionals since 1996, and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who took in at least $970,163 from the industry starting in 1992, when he was a state senator, until he left the governor’s office this week. Other major recipients involved in the lawsuit include former Pennsylvania Attorney General and newly-elected Governor Tom Corbett, who has received about $830,000, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, with more than $770,000.

The money has flowed from a variety of interests ranging from hospitals and drug companies to health care insurers and doctors. Many oppose the mandate in the new law requiring Americans to buy health care coverage.

Florida Attorney General, Republican Pam Bondi has now continued with the lawsuit, saying she is taking up the fight “in the interests of families.” As those six states joined the lawsuit, Bondi said “It sends a strong message that more than half of the states consider the health care law unconstitutional and are willing to fight it in court. “I look forward to continuing to defend Florida’s families and businesses against this unconstitutional law and upholding the Constitution.”

In the interest of families? Bondi has also received campaign contributions from the health care industry:

Pam Bondi, who succeeded McCollum as attorney general and will take up his cause in the lawsuit, received about $75,000 from the industry, some $64,000 of which came from health professionals. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece this month, she said “our lawsuit, together with a similar lawsuit filed by Virginia’s attorney general, has exposed the health-care law’s threat to individual liberty and to the constitutional structure that the Founders designed as a means of protecting that liberty.”

As far the claim that the law is unconstitutional? Not necessarily according to The Center For American Progress, who issued a statement Tuesday signed by more than 125 legal scholars saying the law is constitutional.

As the Republicans in the House pull their “repeal Obamacare” stunt in front of the cameras for political gain, it’s pretty clear they’re acting on behalf of the health insurance companies they meet with behind closed doors who help them craft their arguments. Just like their colleagues in the House, state officials who have joined Bondi’s lawsuit have their own agendas as well.

Agendas so far to the tune of $5 million.

h/t Progress Florida

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This is refreshing to read in a newspaper:

But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn’t let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.

That paragraph is from today’s St. Petersburg Times, and appears in their article PolitiFact’s Lie Of The Year. I think they deserve a great deal of credit for calling out their own.

The article is the kind of reporting the news media should do a lot more of. Facts are good things, and as the saying goes, knowledge is power. Had these facts come out a long time ago the health care reform law may have turned out quite differently.

The article illustrates how the Republican Party set out to sway the public against health care reform and attack President Obama. To do so they used self-proclaimed “Word Doctor” Frank Luntz, the consultant whose slogan is “It’s Not What You Say That Matters, It’s What They Hear,” which seems fitting as a motto for the Republican Party as well. The Republicans turned to Luntz for a similar “snow job” in an attempt to kill financial reform, and he also played a roll in Newt Gingrich’s “Contract For America.”

To construct the big lie for the GOP Luntz came up with the term “government takeover.”

“Takeovers are like coups,” Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. “They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.”

The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the “public option” concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.

We’re still hearing the words “government takeover” and the Republicans like the term so much that it’s become interchangeable with just about every issue out there.

The lie worked, in that it got the health care bill watered down considerably.

But that’s not enough for the GOP. They’re working to kill it altogether. 20 states, with Florida in the lead, have filed a lawsuit claiming the law is unconstitutional. Earlier this week, a judge in Virginia actually did rule part of it unconstitutional, but that judge also owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm. No conflict THERE of course, right? Did someone say “Government takeover?”

No, the Party that’s willing to hold the poor and unemployed hostage, along with DADT, The DREAM Act and national security with the START Treaty in order to get more tax cuts for their rich friends and contributors (not to mention themselves) have no qualms about robbing you and those very same people of a chance at getting health care. So expect more of the same in the future.

In fact, they’ve already begun:

An influential Tea Party group is urging Congress to hold votes in January to repeal healthcare reform in its entirety, according to a confidential memo to congressional Republicans.

The FreedomWorks memo, obtained by The Hill, outlines a strategy that starts with holding a vote in January to repeal the entire law. The group, headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), said Congress should then hold repeal votes on certain provisions of the law, such as the individual mandate.

“Repeal is achievable, possibly sooner than many expect, because the American people clearly want and expect repeal, and because the law is vulnerable to effective repeal,” the memo said.

“Because the American people clearly want and expect repeal.” Do you want and expect repeal of the health care law? Because Dick Armey SAYS you do.

“It’s not what you say that matters, it’s what they hear.”

There’s also more to Congress than meets the eye. You see, you may think you know who you elected to go to Washington to fight for you, but you really elected “wordsmiths” and “blowhards” like Frank Luntz and Dick Armey. Those new Republican “leaders” come January who you see crying like babies who claim they’ve harnessed the American Dream are really just puppets who have sold out. They’ve sold you and the country out as well.

We need more exposure to the GOP’s “big lies” from the media. We can’t afford to let the truth get drowned out, or we’ll only “hear” from these guys.

The puppet-masters.

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Here are just a couple of things you’ll see and hear very little about in the mainstream media about President Obama’s health care reform law:

On the ruling yesterday that PART of the health care reform bill is unconstitutional:

Henry E. Hudson, the federal judge in Virginia who just ruled health care reform unconstitutional, owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm that worked against health care reform.

Most of the reports I’ve read and heard on this are neglecting to mention Judge Henry E. Hudson’s ties to the GOP.

Then there’s this, which surprisingly many people are still unaware of:

Clients lobbying on H.R.3200

Just an FYI for those who actually believe that lawmakers have only the best interests of their constituents at heart.

As hard as it is to believe, there are those who actually do.

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If you’re one of the voters who cheered on Republicans who ran on repealing health care reform and you shouted from the rooftop of your voting booth: “BY ALL MEANS. PLEASE TAKE AWAY HEALTH CARE REFORM BENEFITS BEFORE THEY ARE FORCED DOWN MY THROAT!,” then this bit of news may surprise you:

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

If the hypocrisy of this article gave you whiplash when you had to do a double take upon reading it, and you don’t have health insurance, I do apologize.

Woe the problematic “28 day delay” of socialized medicine.

Naturally, I can only assume that newly elected and soon to be sworn in GOP Florida Senator Marco Rubio will not only refrain from similar complaints, but will undoubtably refuse his own government health care benefits when they kick in. After all, health care reform was, and is a big no-no, which Rubio vowed to stop at all costs:

I’m sure Rubio won’t mind “doing without” along with the rest of us?

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I thought things were bad last week when Republicans not only won back control of the House, but also took control of my state as well. All election analysis aside, people seem to agree that a lot of voters stayed home rather than vote because this Administration hasn’t moved quickly enough to clean up the mess that eight years of the Bush/Cheney Administration left us with. This made me angry at those voters for being unrealistic in their expectations. I was one of the people who have defended the Obama Administration since day one in spite of compromises with Republicans who don’t deserve them in the least.

I bit my nails and nearly made myself ill watching every minute of the struggle to get a watered down health care reform law passed and cheered for the result we ended up with. I defended Obama when other liberals and progressives complained that it wasn’t good enough. And the health care bill was just one example.

Today what headline did I wake up to?

This one:

“WHITE HOUSE GIVES IN ON BUSH TAX CUTS”

I see that President Obama wasn’t kidding when he said he was willing to make compromises with Republicans after his “shellacking” in the election last week.

Now, granted, I’m just an unemployed blogger, but I have to say this to the President and his Administration who seem a bit confused over the results of the election last week:

A large part of the reason you were “shellacked” in the election last week is because you’ve compromised too much in the name of “bipartisanship” already. Much of your base didn’t stay home because they like the Republicans better. If they did they would have voted for them.

So now it sounds as if you are compromising once again.

You’re going to continue to try “bipartisanship” once again.

That’s a shame because the Republicans have no interest in “bipartisanship” or “compromise.” They won’t stop until you completely give in to all their demands. And then they’ll kick you for it in return. Then demand something else.

For the next. Two. Years.

Here in Florida Democrats lost in this election big time. For starters, Alan Grayson who was a rare breed of congressmen who really stood up for working families and tried to do the right thing, lost. He’s the one who said the Republicans health care plan was “Don’t get sick, but if you do, die quickly.” and was chastised for doing so. Well, he was right. The Republicans are proving him right in that they threaten to repeal and replace the health care laws you fought for, and then watered down.

Today David Axelrod says that while you will veto such a repeal, you will “work with people” who “have constructive ideas about how to strengthen” it. Really? And who might that be? It certainly won’t be the Republicans. It won’t be the voters. We have no say in the matter and the closest we get to having any “input” beyond our vote is a request from the Democratic Party for contributions which you won’t use to defend congressmen who will actually make a difference, like Alan Grayson.

Grayson’s opponent Daniel Webster and Marco Rubio, courtesy of SCOTUS and Citizens United via truckloads of undisclosed donations that drowned out the opposition both won. They’re Republicans who want to defeat you and your policies.

Rick Scott, our newly elected Governor spent $73 million dollars of his own money and won, in spite of the fact that the former company he owned and ran was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud.

Yes. Medicare fraud. He’s now the Governor of Florida. He’s a Republican. He also wants to get rid of the health care reform law, but you know that since he was the one who led the fight against it in the first place when he formed Conservatives For Patients’ Rights. He hasn’t changed his position.

He’ll have lots of help with our newly elected Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, who vows to continue to move forward in the lawsuit that was filed along with other states against the health care reform law. She also won courtesy of SCOTUS and Citizens United via truckloads of undisclosed donations and Karl Rove.

They all want the same thing, and it’s NOT compromise or bipartisanship. They want to cut everything, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Education, and on and on. They also want a permanent Republican government and all the perks and money that come with it at our citizens expense.

Most of them are also millionaires. And now you’re going to sweeten the deal for them. You’re going to give them tax cuts that they don’t need when you could merely sit back and let them expire. This on top of the news yesterday that your “bipartisan” commission recommends drastic cuts to just about every conceivable thing they could come up with that didn’t interfere with incomes over $250,000 and the corporations who are pouring cash into funds used to elect the very people who want to defeat you and cut even more of these so called “entitlements” in order to further devastate what’s left of the middle class and sink this country into an oblivion of debt.

I’ll tell you what entitlements are: Tax cuts for the rich.

Mr. Axelrod says this is the only way the middle class can keep their tax cuts. Wrong. It’s not the only way. It’s the Republican’s way.

Mr. Axelrod says “We have to deal with the world as we find it,” and “The world of what it takes to get this done.” Wrong again. In 2008 I voted for “Change.” I didn’t vote for more of the “world as we find it.” If I wanted that I would have voted for the Republicans.

I voted for the candidate I thought would finally fight for the rights of the American people, and not the incompetent, foolish bullies who are dragging this country into a black hole and taking everyone in it with them.

If you plan to give in and not fight for us this time,  you’ve lost me for good. I won’t be fighting for you any longer.

“The world as we find it” isn’t good enough when there’s a better way. Not again.

Not this time.

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