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Working the System


Betsy Newmark identifies the essential lawlessness of the health bill now before the Senate:

What amazes me is how this bill was crafted to treat some states, in perpetuity, differently from other states simply because those states had senators who were more powerful or more canny when it came to bargaining for their support. Politico has some of these details. Of course, we know about Ben Nelson's price for his vote. It is now being called the "Cornhusker kickback."

Nelson’s might be the most blatant – a deal carved out for a single state, a permanent exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion for Nebraska, meaning federal taxpayers have to kick in an additional $45 million in the first decade.

And perhaps some lawyer who understands how these things work can explain how exempting Michigan and Nebraska in perpetuity from an excise tax is Constitutional under Article One, Section 8, Clause 1 which states

Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Congress appears to take the attitude that they write the laws they want, and under the Constitution, it is up to the Supreme Court to determine if those laws are valid. Senators can proclaim their good intentions today and shift responsibility to the future. That’s how the system works these days.