Tales from the Trail

MA governor puts Romney in healthcare bear hug

Before there was Obamacare with its controversial individual mandate on health insurance, there was Romneycare in Massachusetts…with a similar mandate that all residents of the state obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. And Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was happy to remind Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, of that fact on Thursday.

After the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the centerpiece of Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul, Patrick – a key Obama surrogate – met with reporters and expressed shock at the negative spin that Romney, his predecessor in the Massachusetts governor’s mansion, continues to put on federal legislation that is similar to the state law he once championed.

Patrick said that the motivations of Congress in taking up healthcare legislation in 2009 were “the same reasons our legislature and Governor Romney acted in 2006.”

“Since Governor Romney signed healthcare reform here in Massachusetts, more private companies are offering healthcare to their employees, fewer people are getting primary care in an expensive emergency room setting and hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors have access to care they didn’t have before. We’re seeing improvements in health, especially among women and poor people. It has not busted the state budget,” Patrick said.

Romney has promised to immediately start a process to repeal the national law should he win the November election against Obama. On Thursday he linked the program to “larger and larger government” that separates citizens from their doctors and adds “trillions” of dollars to the deficit.

DNC to GOP on healthcare: Bring it on

 

The Democrats have an answer for the Republicans if the Supreme Court throws out President Barack Obama’s healthcare law on Thursday: Good luck with that.

It may be bravado in the face of what would seem to be huge disappointment, but some Democrats insist they relish the prospect of watching congressional Republicans grapple with how to deal with the massive and troubled industry. Annual U.S. spending on healthcare already totals $2.6 trillion a year. Skyrocketing costs are expected to make spending balloon to $4.8 trillion, or one-fifth of U.S. gross domestic product over the coming decade, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It will be time for the Republicans to say what they are going to do. This is on them,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said on Wednesday at the Reuters Washington Summit.

High court justice has another bike accident by Cambridge home

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer might want to give up riding his bicycle around his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or at least be more careful.

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the 72-year-old Breyer broke his right collarbone from a spill while riding his bike near his Cambridge, Mass., court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

Breyer missed Tuesday’s court session, but that was unrelated to his mishap, she said, adding that he did make a previously scheduled appearance in speaking to a New York City historical event Tuesday night.

from Environment Forum:

Cows, climate change and the high court

FRANCE/If you took all the cows in the United States and figured out how much greenhouse gas they emit, would you be able to sue all the farmers who own them?

That interesting legal question came from Justice Antonin Scalia during Supreme Court oral arguments about whether an environmental case against five big U.S. power companies can go forward.

At issue is whether six states can sue the country's biggest coal-fired electric utilities to make them cut down on the climate-warming carbon dioxide they emit. One lower court said they couldn't, an appeals court said they could and now the high court will consider where the case will go next. A ruling should come by the end of June.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Breyer on Twitter

The U.S. Supreme Court does not have an official Twitter account, but this just in — Justice Stephen Breyer is on Twitter and Facebook. But he is not revealing details of arguments or rulings.

USA-COURT/He told a congressional hearing on the Supreme Court’s budget that he has a Twitter account because of his interest in the protests in Iran after the 2009 presidential election. Twitter represented one of the best ways of learning what was happening in that country.

Since then, Breyer said he has received requests to follow him on Twitter, but has turned them down. The same applies to Facebook.

Oops! Justice Clarence Thomas forgot wife on financial forms

It has turned out that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has amended his annual financial disclosure forms dating back more than 20 years to add his wife’s employment.

USA/“It has come to my attention that information regarding my spouse’s employment required in Part III B of my financial disclosure report was inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions,” he wrote in a letter to a committee handling financial disclosure reports.

During the 20-year period, his wife, Virginia Thomas, held a number of jobs, working for the U.S. Labor Department, then-U.S. House Republican Leader Dick Armey, The Heritage Foundation conservative think tank, and Hillsdale College.

With prison looming, DeLay looks to Citizens United and the Supremes

USA-POLITICS/DELAYTom DeLay stands eyeball-to-eyeball with the prospect of years in prison. But he figures he still has friends in high places. Like the U.S. Supreme Court, maybe.

That would be the majority of justices who authored the 2010 campaign finance ruling known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has been decried by Democrats and reformers as a danger to U.S. electoral integrity.

DeLay, whose hard-driving style as a congressional powerbroker earned him the nickname “The Hammer,” was sentenced this week to three years in prison on money laundering and conspiracy charges. A Texas jury said he helped funnel money illegally to Republican candidates in the state in 2002.

Washington Extra – Question of Constitution

Constitutional or unconstitutional? That is the question the U.S. Supreme Court eventually may get to decide on President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law.

(By one definition, constitution can also refer to one’s health — just throwing that in.) 

A judge in Virginia declared unconstitutional a provision that requires individuals to buy health insurance or face a fine, backing arguments by the state that Congress exceeded its authority. USA-COURT/KAGAN

Al Franken’s moment of backsliding…

It was one of those moments Al Franken seems to work hard to suppress.

The comedian-turned-politician has kept a mostly straight face through his first year as a senator — listening seriously to hours of committee testimony and posing pointed questions with only the flicker of a smile crossing his face.
USA-COURTS/SOTOMAYOR
Thursday’s Senate debate over Elena Kagan was evidently too much for the clown in him to bear.

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued that Kagan was too inexperienced and political to be confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court, Franken couldn’t contain himself.

The liberal Democrat from Minnesota, who was presiding over the Senate at the time, rolled his eyes, let out his breath and finally began to shake his head, a Senate Republican aide said.

‘Twilight’ falls at Kagan hearing

There is no escaping the “Twilight” juggernaut. Not even on Capitol Hill.

The teen vampire romance saga that’s captivated a gazillion youthful fans managed to seep into Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing Wednesday, thanks to a probing question from Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Before inquiring about Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Briscoe v. Virginia and other cases that have come before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Minnesota Democrat raised the burning question in the great “Twilight” debate: Edward or Jacob?  Kagan declined to weigh in on the topic. The senator quickly moved on.