Boy, how did we miss this story?

At the beginning of this month, Congressman-elect Bill Johnson announced in a trumpeting press release that he was refusing to accept Congressional health care benefits in protest of President Obama’s health care insurance reform law.

Ironically, Governor Ted Strickland, who used to serve in the same district as Johnson will, refused to accept congressional health care benefits until all of his constituents had access to the kind of choices in plans and benefits as he did.  In other words, where Strickland refused to accept health care until there was a universal benefit, Johnson now refuses to accept health care benefits because of the existence of such a universal benefit.  From Johnson’s press release:

“Lincoln famously put forth the notion that government should be of the people, by the people and for the people,” Johnson said.  “This is one substantial way I can show that my commitment to the people of Eastern and Southern Ohio is to help them, not to gain exclusive benefits for myself.”

Johnson said Congress must focus on repealing Obama Health Care and instead adopt patient-based, market-driven health care solutions.

“I oppose ObamaCare because government-controlled health care will create more debt and huge bureaucracy,” Johnson said.  “We need to reverse the government takeover of our health care, and we should adopt common sense, patient-centered, private sector solutions like making health care portable from job to job and state to state, tort reform, and promoting health savings accounts.”

Did you know that Congressman-elect Johnson is retired from the Air Force?  Apparently, he was hoping his constituents didn’t know.  David Skolnick of the Youngstown Vindicator, the Mahoning Democratic Party, and ODP Chairman Chris Redfern, apparently, knew that:

What wasn’t included in the statement is Johnson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, has and will continue to receive federal health-care benefits from that branch of the military.

In other words, Congressman-elect Johnson isn’t going with any of the cafeteria plans of private health insurers offered to members of Congress.  Instead, he’s sticking to TRICARE.  Given his age and retired status, it gets worse.

Congressman-elect Johnson is probably participating in the TRICARE for Life program.  You know, the TRICARE program that supplements… Medicare coverage.

What was that about the evils of “government-controlled” health care, Congressman-elect?

His press release may be a “winner” for some uninformed voters out there, but the whole thing has a “Circle of Life” fail feel to it.

Circle of Life Win and Fail

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  • I’m also interested in this tweet from @ODPChairman:

    “First casualty of redistricting? Bill Johnson-new GOPer from Ytown-moves 3 hrs south to avoid redistricting. He hasn’t served a day!”

  • Anonymous

    I dunno. We’re trying to find out.

  • Anonymous

    Ahh, the power of Google:
    http://www.vindy.com/news/2010/dec/23/johnson-plans-to-relocate/?newswatch

    Johnson is moving to Marietta so that he a) lives in the district now, and b) lives in the center and where it’ll likely be based around.

  • Anonymous

    Hester, how about your take on Judge Henry Hudson’s decision that the individual mandate of Obamacare is unconstitutional? I remember you posted a while back that the mandate was legit. Plus, I think Obama argued with Stephonopolis that the fine for not having insurance wasn’t a tax, but in court his administartion argued that it was constitutional under the feds authority to levy taxes.

    I’m not a lawyer, and may not be on the money with this. What’s your take?

  • Anonymous

    Even some of the most conservative constitutional scholars say that Hudson’s decision is circular and flawed as it fails to note the legal distinction between the interstate commerce clause and the more expansive “necessary and proper” clause.

    The tax thing is the mix of politics and law. As a matter of politics, calling the penalty a “tax” is a political loser because it can be used as an political argument that Obama raised taxes, which in conservating thinking, makes him a Kenyan pretender to the throne.

    However as a constitutional argument, the tax argument is a winner. The power to tax is much broader than the interstate commerce clause. So, in courts, the taxing power is a stronger legal argument than even the interstate commerce clause.

    We’re going to get a a mix of decisions. After all, there’s a reason these lawsuits were filed where they were. The conseratives were clearly engaged in forum shopping. And Bush was packing the federal judiciary with conservative activist judges, they were bound to get a few favorable decisions.

    The real question is will the addition of Roberts and Alito be enough to create a 5-4 activist bench to fundamental rewrite the constitution. Most legal observers, including conservative ones, are still saying the likelihood that the health care mandate be declared unconstitutional and sticking is low.

    The federal government is likely to appeal, and prevail, on their appeal of Judge Hudson’s decision.

  • Anonymous

    I was just answering what the ODP chairman tweeted about.

  • Anonymous

    Seems to me the tax argument is a loser. The mandate is not a tax (a fee levied to support the government). It’s a regulatory penalty, or a punishment for breaking the law (not having insurance), invalidating the administration’s argument. But hey, who am I? Ask Judge Roger Vinson in Florida who ruled that the mandate is not a tax for this very reason, and that the lawsuits are not frivolous.

    My understanding is also that the legislation does not have a “severability” clause, and the whole of the law is not protected from the invalidation of any part.

    If the SCOTUS upholds the mandate, it will be interesting to see if the laws passed in some states in November making the mandate illegal will also withstand a challenge. I think the concepts of nullification and interposition are going to be vigorously debated over the course of the next year or so.

  • Guest

    Another TGOPer is a hypocrite = dog bites man….move along nothing to see here. R wants govt run health care, but he doesn’t want you to have it. Ohioans are really dumb. We get what we deserve 100% of nothing.

  • Anonymous

    The mandate is a TAX. First, the “penalty” is written into the federal income tax code. The enforcement mechanism for the “mandate” is achieved by annual federal income tax filings and is enforced by the IRS. The proceeds of the penalty are used as a source of government revenues.

    You cite two conservative judges who have ruled against it, but there have been countless other judges who have upheld the constitutionality of the so-called “mandate.”

    Vinson has already rejected a number of constitutional challenges raised in the Florida case. He MIGHT rule in their favor on the individual mandate, but he does so based on outdated case law the Supreme Court has all but expressly overturned.

    Will people debate nullification? Yes, like idiots who “debate” whether the President was born in Hawaii or Kenya. There is no genuine debate about nullification. It was a pre-Civil War doctrine that requires one to first ignore the express language of the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution. The fact that we formed a Constitution due to the problem State nullification created under the Articles of Confederation, and is such a questionable legal doctrine, most of the States of the South ridiculed those who advocated it before and during the Civil War.

    Not even the Confederecy had a mechanism for State nullification, nor should it.

    A State cannot constitutionally declare its citizen selective immune from federal laws. There is no such power in the U.S. Constitution. If they don’t like federal law they can pursue legal challenges to it, or advocate the election of federal lawmakers to change it, or secede.

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