Harry Reid to Missourians: You Don't Understand Health Care

DEM ‘HIGH HORSE’ ON ETHICS REALLY SHETLAND PONY: Republicans on Capitol Hill had fun last week at Democrats’ expense, as huge ethics clouds remained hanging over the heads of Democratic Representatives Charles Rangel (N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.). Republicans began calling on House Democrats to return or give to charity any contributions from the two “ethically challenged” lawmakers. So far, three Democratic House members have returned donations from Rangel: Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), who sent back $20,000, Carol Shea Porter (N.H.) and Peter Welch (Vt.), $15,000. It is still not clear whether the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will give back the more than $3.2 million in donations it has received from Rangel and Waters. Last week, Republicans were also having fun reminding Democrats of their own words in ’06, when the GOP lost control of the House after a few GOP members had ethics problems: “The Republican Party has shown American families its true family values and true colors with its blind loyalty to such corrupt congressmen as Tom DeLay [Tex.] and Duke Cunningham [Calif.],” said the then-spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Sarah Feinberg. “Perhaps, she said, the NRCC song should be ‘Stand By Your Man.’” (Roll Call, March 30, 2006). No comment last week from the DCCC.

VOTERS FEAR HIGHER TAXES COMING: With the administration unyielding in its support of repealing most of the Bush tax cuts and continuing to push for higher government spending, more voters think their taxes will increase than don’t. According to a just-completed Rasmussen Poll, 44% of voters nationwide expect their taxes to increase under President Obama, 39% expect them to say the same, and 9% think their taxes will go down. This belief, which is bad news for Democrats heading into the November elections, contrasts sharply with the public’s attitude the week Obama took office in January 2009, when only 31% expected a tax increase while he was in office. Rasmussen’s latest survey also showed that only 19% of voters believe tax increases will help the economy and 58% feel they are harmful economically.

MONKEYING AROUND WITH STIMULUS MONEY: “You can’t make this stuff up!” is how Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation reacted to a new report on how stimulus money is being used. One of the findings in, “Summertime Blues,” a report by Republican Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.) on the spending of stimulus money shows that $144,541 in tax dollars was used to study how “monkeys react under the influence of cocaine.” That project, conducted at Wake Forest University, “would have the monkeys self-administer the drugs while researchers monitor and study their glutamate levels,” according to the Coburn-McCain report. When asked what this “monkeying around” has to do with improving the economy, a Wake Forrest University Medical School spokesman said: “It’s actually the continuation of a job that might not still be there if it hadn’t been for the stimulus funding. And it’s a good job.”

“GREATEST GENERATION” AT WAR OVER OBAMACARE: With 170 Republican House members having already signed a petition calling for a vote on repealing Obamacare, 26 Republican candidates for the House who are also veterans last week signed a letter calling for exempting veterans and their health insurance plans from Obamacare’s medical device tax. The letter notes that the new law puts an excise tax on medical devices that “will force our fellow veterans who sustained injuries from their service to pay higher costs for necessary medical devices” and that an amendment offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) to exempt veterans from the tax was defeated by the Democrat-controlled Senate. “This is just one of the far too many examples of how out of touch Washington politicians really are and precisely why we are running for office this year, in hope of providing real public service and leadership,” said the letter, which was organized by the anti-Obamacare DEFUNDIT.ORG and Iraq Veterans for Congress.

NO TO MORE STIMULUS, SAYS ECB CHIEF: In a surprise parting shot as he prepared to step down as president of the European Central Bank, Jean Claude Trichet recently took issue with the Obama Administration and the International Monetary Fund by opposing further stimulus spending to jumpstart the economy. “With the benefit of hindsight, we see how unfortunate was the oversimplified message of fiscal stimulus given to all industrial economies under the motto ‘stimulate,’ ‘activate,’ ‘spend,’” wrote Trichet, Europe’s senior economic policymaker, in the Financial Times.

ELECTORAL RULES CHANGE RESURFACES: The possibility of helping liberals by rewiring the Electoral College has been around a long time and showed more life last week. The Massachusetts state senate approved a bill that would award the Bay State’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of whom the state voters supported. The state house has already passed a similar measure and Democratic Gov. DeVal Patrick has indicated he would sign it into law. But at this point, the proposal is largely symbolic, as it would not take effect until states holding at least 270 electoral votes (the number constitutionally required to elect a President) passed the same legislation. So far, five states have enacted such a law: Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington State.

REID TO MISSOURIANS, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND HEALTH CARE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) last week offered another example of how out of touch he is and why he is facing the stiffest re-election challenge of his career. On the day after Missouri voters resoundingly (71% to 29%) passed “Proposition C” to block the government from mandating that individuals buy health insurance (See “Politics,” Page 21), Reid told the Wall Street Journal: “It is very obvious that people have a lack of understanding of our healthcare reform bill. The more they learn about this bill, the more they like it.” According to a study of the vote by Fox News, if all 577,615 registered Republicans who showed up at the polls in Missouri last week are counted as among the 667,680 “yes” votes on Proposition C, that means that 90,065 “yes” votes came from non-Republicans. “The Liberal Party primary had 3,502 ballots cast,” reported Fox. “The Constitution Party had 1,883. And if all those folks also voted ‘yes’ (even though it seems unlikely) … and subtract that from the non-Republican ‘yes’ votes, that leaves 84,680 non-Republican, non-Liberal, non-Constitution ‘yeses.’” Dream on, Sen. Reid.