The Honeymoon is Over

COMMENTARY Health Care Reform

The Honeymoon is Over

Sep 29, 2009 3 min read

Policy Analyst

As senior fellow in government studies at The Heritage Foundation, Brian Darling...

It's been a rough few weeks for the Obama administration, and the president's honeymoon with the American people is clearly over. The left wing group ACORN, a favorite of the left and training ground for many Obama administration officials, is under fire. Then-Sen. Obama supported a surge of troops in Afghanistan, but now officials of his administration are reportedly backing away from that campaign plank. Finally, the Obamacare bill is floundering in the Senate; therefore Senators are hiding the text of the final bill in an effort to railroad comprehensive health care reform, 1/6th of the U.S. economy, through Congress.


The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) calls itself, "the nation's largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities across the country." It's also a controversial organization that pockets plenty of federal funding and allegedly engaged in corrupt voter registration drives and left-wing political advocacy. ACORN was thrust into the national spotlight when two young and brave journalists taped ACORN employees advising them (they were posing as a prostitute and a pimp), how to hide assets from the government.

Conservatives in Congress are on the offensive and liberals are distancing themselves from the group. According to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), ACORN has received about $53 million of your tax money over the last 15 years. The House of Representatives passed legislation to defund ACORN a 345-75 vote.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) authored an amendment to bar any monies from the Interior Appropriations bill from going to ACORN. It passed 85-11. In both votes, Democrats ran away from ACORN. Furthermore, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) requesting public hearings and an investigation into the group.

After the IRS announced that they were dropping ACORN as a participant in the volunteer tax assistance program, Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) said that "taxpayers will not be satisfied until ACORN is flushed out of all corners of the government." Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has gone a step further and requested an investigation by Attorney General Eric Holder as to whether ACORN is in violation of the RICO Act because many are concerned that ACORN is a corrupt organization using taxpayer dollars for partisan political activities.

Some defenders of ACORN remain. Senate Leader Reid has refused to open hearings. Some left-wing members of the House allege that these bills are unconstitutional. Hans von Spakovsky, a colleague at The Heritage Foundation, debunks the constitutional argument and says that "the claims that these are bills of attainder are simply wrong -- they don't meet the legal criteria established by the Supreme Court, which has not overturned a law on this basis since 1965."

A Broken Promise to Afghanistan?

Press reports indicate that the Pentagon is holding off on requests for more troops because Obama administration officials may decide to change policy. Well, candidate Barack Obama argued for a surge in Afghanistan. This was the sole area where he appeared to be hawkish on foreign policy. President Obama seemingly kept that promise in March, announcing a massive surge in Afghanistan that may now be reversed.

Something similar is happening in Eastern Europe. The Obama administration announced in September that it will back away from its own promises (and those of previous presidents) to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Yet in March, Obama praised Poland and the Czech Republic for standing with us on missile defense. Now we've hung them out to dry, which can only serve to harm allies of the United States. Conservatives who believe in President Reagan's timeless adage "Peace Through Strength" should be worried that our enemies may be sensing weakness in Washington, D.C. No Time to Read Health Care Bill?

No Time to Read Health Care Bill?

During the mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee, the Committee defeated an Amendment by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) that would have required the bill's text and price tag be made publicly available on the Committee's website for at least 72 hours before the Committee could vote on the bill. The Committee debated a document that was an outline of the bill, not the actual legislative text, and some Senators actually want to read the bill before they vote on it.

Senate Leaders want to march a bill to the Senate floor as early as this week. The American people should be appalled if they're given no time to review Obamacare before Senators are asked to vote on what would be the most radical change in health care law in our lifetimes.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

First Appeared in Human Events

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