More Republican Pledge Hypocrisy

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The “Pledge to America” recently unveiled by House Republicans is more Republican gobbledygook. Republican promises to cut waste, fraud, abuse, and earmarks, and institute reform, change, privatization, and accountability are always so vague, misleading, and exception-ridden that they are — without exception — absolutely worthless.

Republicans are such hypocrites that even while they preach smaller and less intrusive government they pass legislation to increase the size and scope of government.

On the very day (September 23) that the House Republicans issued their worthless “Pledge to America,” they also voted in overwhelming numbers along with Democrats to pass four pieces of legislation that violate the very Pledge that Republicans maintain they will adhere to if they gain a majority in the House in the upcoming election.

Plan 4 in the Republican Pledge is the promise to “to reform Congress and restore trust.” Under the paragraph titled “Adhere To the Constitution,” there appears this statement:

For too long, Congress has ignored the proper limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government. Further, it has too often drafted unclear and muddled laws, leaving to an unelected judiciary the power to interpret what the law means and by what authority the law stands. This lack of respect for the clear Constitutional limits and authorities has allowed Congress to create ineffective and costly programs that add to the massive deficit year after year. We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.

This is absolutely correct. However, what the Republicans forget to mention is that it is Republicans who controlled the U.S. House of Representatives during the last six years of Clinton’s presidency and the first six years of Bush’s presidency. Republicans are the ones who have ignored the proper limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government. Republicans are the ones who have drafted unclear and muddled laws. Republicans are the ones who have shown a lack of respect for clear Constitutional limits and authorities. Republicans are the ones who have allowed Congress to create ineffective and costly programs that add to the massive deficit year after year.

Here are the four pieces of legislation that an overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted to pass on the same day they published their Pledge:

  • The Family Health Care Accessibility Act
  • The Emergency Medic Transition Act
  • The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Reauthorization Act
  • The Training and Research for Autism Improvements Nationwide Act

I wonder what clauses would be included with these bills citing the specific constitutional authority upon which they are justified?

The Family Health Care Accessibility Act of 2010 (H.R. 1745) amends the Public Health Service Act “to deem volunteer practitioners at health centers as employees of the Public Health Service for purposes of any civil action that may arise due to providing services to patients at such health centers.” This bill was introduced in the House by a Republican, Timothy Murphy of Pennsylvania. It passed by a vote of 417 to 1. The lone no vote was the heroic Ron Paul (R-TX). One hundred and seventy Republicans voted for the bill. But since the Constitution doesn’t authorize the federal government to have anything to do with health care, this bill lacks specific constitutional authority and would have to be rejected under the Republican Pledge.

The Emergency Medic Transition Act of 2010 (H.R. 3199) amends the Public Health Service Act “to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to state entities with jurisdiction over emergency medical personnel to provide for the expedited training and licensing, as emergency medical technicians, of veterans who received training as such a technician while serving in the Armed Forces.” Only five Republicans voted against this bill. But since the Constitution doesn’t authorize the federal government to have anything to do with health care, this bill lacks specific constitutional authority and would have to be rejected under the Republican Pledge.

The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5710) amends and reauthorizes the controlled substance monitoring program of the Public Health Service Act to “foster the establishment of State-administered controlled substance monitoring systems.” This bill comes with a price tag of $15 million for fiscal year 2011 and $10 million each year for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. It requires the states receiving a federal grant under this Act to submit “aggregate data and other information” to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and to “facilitate prescriber use of the State’s controlled substance monitoring system” and “educate prescribers on the benefits of the system both to them and society.” This bill was introduced in the House by a Republican, Ed Whitfield of Kentucky. It passed by a vote of 384—32. The Republican vote was 140—31. But since the Constitution doesn’t authorize the federal government to even designate a controlled substance, this bill lacks specific constitutional authority and would have to be rejected under the Republican Pledge.

The Training and Research for Autism Improvements Nationwide Act of 2010 (H.R. 5756), also known as the TRAIN ACT of 2010, has an official title that concisely sums up its purpose:

To amend subtitle D of title I of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 to provide grants and technical assistance to University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service to improve services rendered to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families, and for other purposes.

In awarding grants under this legislation, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must give priority to applicants that are “(1) minority institutions that have demonstrated capacity to meet the requirements of this Act and provide services to individuals with autism and their families; or (2) located in a state with one or more underserved populations.” The vote on this bill was 393—24. The Republican vote was 167—24. But since the Constitution doesn’t authorize the federal government to do anything about autism or any other medical condition, this bill lacks specific constitutional authority and would have to be rejected under the Republican Pledge.

The only reason Republicans ever look good is when they are out of power and oppose the Democrats on major pieces of legislation like Obamacare, extending unemployment benefits, increasing HUD appropriations, etc. When all of their actions — not their just plans, promises, and pledges — are compared to even an imperfect standard like the Constitution it is apparent that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties.

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