Posted by – March 26, 2012
Gallup conducted a poll last month and found that 72 percent of Americans believe the individual mandate, which requires every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine, is unconstitutional.
Public opinion is not supposed to play a part in the U.S. Supreme Court hearings on the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which take place through Wednesday. The justices are supposed to focus strictly on whether the health care law violates the U.S. Constitution.
Streaming audio of the arguments today through Wednesday, are available at the Supreme Court’s website (www.supremecourt.gov)
A breakout of poll results shows that 70 percent of independents and 56 percent of Democrats think the health care law goes beyond the constitutional authority granted to Congress. Another question in the poll elicited a 72 percent response that the health care law will make things worse, or won’t help the nation.
Posted by – March 22, 2012
Two Israeli professors produced a study that indicates that more attractive members of Congress get more television coverage.
Professors Israel Waismel-Manor and Yariv Tsafati of the University of Haifa asked students to rank the attractiveness of members of Congress. After screening out presidential candidates and top leaders who would naturally draw more attention, the study found that good looking members get more TV play. They did not find the same in radio and newspaper coverage.
“In an ideal democracy, the amount of news coverage representatives receive should be determined by the quality of their work and the originality of their ideas,” the professors wrote.
A news story about the study is linked here.
Posted by – March 19, 2012
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed two pieces of legislation Friday that he said would turn the clock back on workplace rights, setting up a debate with Republicans who hold majorities in the Missouri House and Senate.
House Bill 1219 would have changed workplace discrimination rules. Business groups had argued that Missouri laws need to clearly state that in order to prove workplace discrimination, a plaintiff must prove that it was the motivating factor. At this point lawsuits can proceed if a court rules that discrimination is “a contributing factor.”
It also would have capped punitive damages at $300,000.
Nixon said the bill was “nearly identical to a bill I vetoed last year” and would make it easier to discriminate.
The other veto was on Senate Bill 572, which would have changed workers’ compensation laws to put co-employee liability and occupational disease coverage in the workers’ compensation system — as it was a few years ago. Business owners said they are open to frivolous lawsuits.
Republicans would have to muster a two-thirds vote to override Nixon’s vetoes. They hold a two-thirds majority in the Senate, but fall a few votes short of that level in the House.
Posted by – March 12, 2012
A story on gun rights from the Christian Science Monitor has a fair amount of interesting information.
Illinois lawmakers are considering both gun rights bills and gun control bills again this year. Illinois also remains the last state with no mechanism for carrying a concealed weapon.
Patrik Jonsson of CSM writes:
“In 2009, three times as many pro-gun laws were passed in the United States as antigun measures – a trend that experts say has only accelerated since then. Fully 40 states now mandate that anyone who asks for a concealed-carry permit and meets the qualifications must be issued one. One result: The number of concealed-weapon license holders in the US has gone from a few hundred thousand 10 years ago to more than 6 million today. In some parts of Tennessee, 1 out of every 11 people on the street is either carrying a weapon or has a license to do so.
“It’s a huge sea change, and one lesson to take out of all of this is that it’s amazing how fast attitudes on constitutional issues can change,” says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the author of “An Army of Davids.” “The thinking has turned in a way that many thought to be impossible only 15 years ago.”
Posted by – March 6, 2012
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s mother, Betty Anne McCaskill, wrote a letter to Democrats this week to raise money for her daughter’s campaign.
The fundraising email focuses on Rush Limbaugh’s controversial comments about Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University student who had testified for contraceptive insurance coverage before Congress. Limbaugh called Fluke a prostitute — and worse — on last week’s radio shows. He gave what he called an apology after many of his show’s sponsors pulled their ads.
Limbaugh also called McCaskill a “commie babe liberal.”
In the campaign piece from McCaskill, Betty Ann McCaskill tells prospective donors she is mad about the attacks on women and wants help to counter them.
“Please don’t let the Republicans have their way on this. Don’t let them wage war on women. Show them that we know how to defeat them by making a contribution to Claire’s campaign today,” Betty Anne McCaskill wrote.
Huge numbers of people have criticized Limbaugh for his attacks. Some will criticize McCaskill for using the event to ramp up support and money for her re-election bid.
This kind of issue-driven item comes out in a different form every week, sometimes with Democrats looking to capitalize and other times with Republicans stoking the flames and begging for money.
In this case, Limbaugh might have done more to help McCaskill’s cause than a few weeks of minor campaign events could have done.
Posted by – March 2, 2012
House Republicans had planned to move a five-year transportation plan last month, but that got derailed when as many as 100 members of the caucus objected to the legislation.
A Politico story linked here includes a couple of quotes from U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria. In one case Schock said the bill was not vetted well as it was being prepared by House leaders. Schock also opines that the battle over transit funding is a big and unnecessary part of the problem.
The Senate’s two-year plan would not involve lots of the major reworking planned in the House bill. However, as noted in the Politico’s second page, accepting the Senate plan would be considered a loss by many House Republicans.