Ben Nelson on constitutional law – Update (Video): Lindsey Graham Agrees

Update (Jim)– Senator Lindsey Graham agrees with SOS. It’s a must watch below.

While Senator Ben Nelson (D. Neb.) is basking in the glow of his hard fought victory to make changes to the Senate health care bill, let me throw a bit of cold water on the celebration.

By now, you know that the good Senator has decided to leap off the fence and support the health care legislation because Senator Harry Reid (D. Nv.) has made changes in the legislation at Senator Nelson’s request.  Earlier this week, Nelson had proclaimed that he could not and would not support the bill unless the language prohibiting the expenditure of federal funds on abortion was strengthened, and certain other “unspecified” changes, were made.

On the abortion front, what Senator Nelson agreed to was, in fact, a weakening of the abortion language, but, we now know what “unspecified changes” he was really after, and those “concessions” he got for tumbling off the fence.

Under the  bill, the bulk of the uninsureds in this country will now be covered by expanding Medicaid, and, although the federal government will pay for those increased costs initially, beginning in 2017 the states will have to do so…that is, all states except Nebraska.  As of 2017, and into the foreseeable future, you will get to pay for all increased Medicaid costs in Nebraska.

But, I wonder whether this provision will withstand constitutional muster, and, here is why.  Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to tax, but it also states,

…all Duties, Imposts, and Excises [i.e. taxes] shall be uniform throughout the United States.

Under this provision, Congress could not pass a law saying, for instance, that the lowest income tax bracket is, for example, 15%, except in Nebraska, where it it 10%.  And yet, albeit through the back door, that is exactly what Nelson negotiated.  Although Nebraskans will pay the stated 15%, they will receive an instant “rebate” of their tax dollars to cover whatever their increased Medicaid costs are, thus, effectively lowering the federal income tax rate in Nebraska.  Or, perhaps better said, increasing the taxes on everyone in this country more than they would have increased, just to cover the federal government’s new obligation to Nebraska.

To be sure, tax dollars spent by the federal government in states are not directly proportional to the tax dollars collected from the citizens of that state, nor need they be.  For example, Oklahoma may well receive more tax money for federal highways than it’s proportionate share of the national highway budget.

But, what Senator Nelson pulled off is unprecedented.  Everyone else, but those living in Nebraska, gets to pay for Nebraska’s share of Obamacare.

Yes, Nebraska, there is a Santa Claus.

Update (Jim): The SOS was way ahead of the game on this one … now backed by none other than Senator Lindsey Graham this morning on CNN.


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. donh on December 19, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    The Nebraska compromise caused one civil war by repealing the anti slavery agreements in the frontier. Ben Nelson's second Nebraska compromise   repeals the 13th amendment abolishing slavery in all states. I want to point out that  the number of 2074 pages in the senate bill HR 3590 has religeous significance. Once every 28 years the Jews bless the sun. 2009 is one of these years. When the Sun reaches its turning point it is said "Blessed is He who reenacts the works of creation" . Hebrew letters convert into numbers . 2074 is the numerical value of this blessing.  The Winter solstice is on Monday the 21st.  Ted Kennedy's grandson Max Allen was born on the cusp of the winter solstice with an astrological birth chart that reads like a pentagram . I  wonder if  the many Kennedy tragedies had a purpose to prepare a manger  for the demonic conception  . Wheather or not the anti christ is Max Allen or this healthcare bill , I am certain we are witnessing  a climax in the  spiritual  contempt of God .  Have a strong love for your savior this Christmass . The Lord is victorious. 

  2. Dimsdale on December 20, 2009 at 8:11 am

    What we need now is some Congressman, Senator, Citizen etc. to stand up and file a lawsuit that calls into question the Constitutionality of these boondoggles, and make the SCOTUS rule on it.  There are still enough real Constitutionalists on the court to get an honest verdict.

  3. PatRiot on December 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Dimsdale is in to something.  (I wish I could find the website group that actually submitted charges of treason to SCOTUS. )  We need to push one of the elected officials to commit political suicide and charge a fellow member of Congress with treason.  Done once, it can be repeated an the cleansing can begin.

    By the way – I believe SCOTUS and the military have an obligation to uphold the Constitution REGARDLESS of the citizenry's input.  And yet they dither, if that. 

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