Texas to sue federal government over health care legislation




Posted on March 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 23 at 9:28 AM

AUSTIN -- Fewer than twelve hours had elapsed since federal health care reform legislation passed in congress when Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot called reporters to his office to announce that Texas will join other states in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of federal health care legislation as soon as President Barack Obama signs the bill.

"I like most Americans believe we need to improve the health care system in America,” Abbott said.

However, Abbott believes Congress passed a bad bill.

"The state has been put into a situation where our liberties are being trampled on in an unprecedented fashion because of swift over-reaching action and the state it being forced to the courthouse,” he said.

Abbott expects the multi-state suit will be filed Tuesday in federal court in Florida; neither the president nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are likely to be named. The suit is expected to name the Department of Health and Human Services, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Labor as defendants. Specifically the suit will challenge the requirement that most Americans be insured or be fined. Abbott argues that is an "unconstitutional" taxation.

“Under the 10th Amendment, the powers not delegated to Congress in the Constitution are reserved to the states or to the individuals,” he said.

The Attorney General says the lawsuit will also address the flow of funds out of Texas. He says the legislation could cost Texas families $20 billion over 10 years. In the meantime, some in Washington say it could actually help cut the nation's deficit.

As the debate still sizzles in Washington, C.J. Miller who runs a food cart at Congress Avenue at 11th Street has a message for his neighbors across the street in state government: “Keep it up. Keep going. Keep it up, because I don’t think were going in the right direction,” he said.

While he believes the lawsuit sends an important message, other Texas taxpayers think it's a waste of time and money.

“To me it’s like two dogs running around trying to chase their tails,” said Jackie Meadows, taxpayer.

Below are highlights from statements e-mailed Monday by lawmakers and organizations on both sides of the issue:

Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas:

"Unfortunately, the health care vote had more to do with expanding socialism on American soil than it does fixing our health care finance and delivery systems. The Obama health care bill undermines patient choice, personal responsibility, medical innovation and fiscal responsibility in America. As passed by the U.S. House, the bill will cost Texas taxpayers billions more, and drive our nation much deeper into debt. Congress's backroom deals and parliamentary maneuvers undermined the public trust and increased cynicism in our political process. Texas leaders will continue to do everything in our power to fight this federal excess and find ways to protect our families, taxpayers and medical providers from this gross federal overreach."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas:

“While Democrats in Washington have shown a willful disregard for the views of their constituents, I’m proud to continue to stand with the millions who have spoken out in opposition to the government takeover of our health care system. In tough economic times, the last thing our nation needs is higher taxes, higher insurance premiums, and an unconstitutional power grab by the federal government.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas:

“Well, I think, you know, what this will demonstrate is the desperation of the Administration and Democrats in Congress to jam this bill through. And I don't underestimate their willingness to be ruthless about the process. So, that could happen. But I guarantee it will happen on television, on c-span, and on FOX News for 300 million people to see, and I think there will be a terrible price to be paid for this sort of defying public opinion.”

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio:

“The health care bill is built on the shifting sands of higher premiums, increased taxes and reduced benefits. Such a foundation cannot last and will be washed away by the American people in the November election.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin:

“For Republicans our bill is too long or too short, it’s too thick or too thin, never just right, because their real answer to reform is ‘never, never, never!’  Our determined efforts should not be derided as a four letter word, but you can certainly sum up our many, many pages with 4 words—‘you’ve got health care.’"

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin:

“My Republican colleagues and I proposed legislation that would address the core reforms of ensuring access to care regardless of means and pre-existing conditions without needlessly punishing individuals, families and businesses, without killing jobs, and without driving an estimated one-third of doctors out of their profession, as is cited in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Instead, the Democrats opted to push through their partisan, social agenda against the will of a majority of the American people.”

U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Georgetown:

"An unconstitutional bill passed illegally will not stand as law," says Carter, a former Texas judge. Not only did President Obama and Speaker Pelosi act with utter contempt towards the voters by pushing this horror of a bill against the wishes of the majority of public, they violated House and Senate rules repeatedly to do so. This was the most convoluted, disingenuous, and deceptive legislative process in the history of Congress. This place is now truly a swamp of corruption."

U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, who admitted on Monday that he shouted “baby killer” at pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, who announced he would support the legislation:

“I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill.  The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect.  The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate.”

William H. Fleming III, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association:

“Make no mistake — Texas physicians support health system reform — reform that truly puts our patients first. We’ve told Congress for the past year, to ‘keep what’s good and fix only what’s wrong’ in our health care system. Today, Congress did the opposite. It passed a bill that does nothing to fix glaring problems in our current health care system. Instead, it saddles Texans with higher costs, higher taxes, more red tape and more bureaucracy.”

Cathie Adams, Chairwoman, Republican Party of Texas:

“To those Obama-Reid-Pelosi Democrats in Texas, today we send a message: In November, Texans will remember.  It's time to fire Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and the surest way to do that is to vote Republican in November.”  

Thomas J. Tradewell, Sr., President, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries:

“The president and the Democratic leadership are betraying America's veterans…. And what makes matters worse is the leadership and the president knows the bill is flawed, yet they are pushing for passage today like it’s a do-or-die situation. This nation deserves the best from their elected officials, and the rush to pass legislation of this magnitude is not it.”

Andy Jones, Texas College Democrats, on the provision of the legislation which allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance into their mid-20s:

“With college and university students representing the largest number of the uninsured, this landmark legislation ensures that these students will be protected from crushing debt and future constrained by the fear of illness or injury.”