Posts Tagged ‘ Government Take Over ’

North Korea Making Missile Able To Hit The U.S.

Intelligence indicates that North Korea is moving ahead with building its first road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, an easily hidden weapon capable of hitting the United States, according to Obama administration officials. The intelligence was revealed in a classified Capitol Hill briefing last month. Its existence was made public in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta from five House Republicans. “As members of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces …, we write out of concerns about new intelligence concerning foreign developments in long-range ballistic missile development, specifically ballistic missiles capable of attacking the United States,” the Nov. 17 letter said. “We believe this new intelligence reiterates the need for the administration to correct its priorities regarding missile defenses, which should have, first and foremost, the missile defense of the homeland.”

Officials familiar with the intelligence said government analysts believe the missile could be a variant of North Korea’s new Musudan intermediate-range missile, first disclosed publicly in October 2010. The CIA assesses that North Korea also has a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons. North Korea was a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but withdrew in 2003, citing the failure of the United States to fulfill its end of the Agreed Framework, a 1994 agreement between the states to limit North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, begin normalization of relations, and help North Korea supply some energy needs through nuclear reactors.

On October 9, 2006, the North Korean government issued an announcement Continue reading

Judge Strikes Down Obamas Healthcare As Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the reform law’s so-called individual mandate went too far in requiring that Americans start buying health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.

In a lawsuit filed by 26 states and led by Florida, Judge Roger Vinson said the requirement that individuals buy health insurance is unconstitutional. The federal government considers the requirement critical to implementing the reforms. FULL TEXT OF THE BILL HERE: H.R. 4872

Vinson used Obama‘s own position from the 2008 campaign against him, when the then-Illinois senator argued there were other ways to achieve reform short of requiring every American to purchase insurance.

In his footnotes, Judge Vinson points out the hypocrisy of Candidate Obama vs. President Obama.

Indeed, I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that “if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.”

Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday. Most legal scholars expect one of the suits to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Individuals, advocacy groups and hospitals have also sued. Summary: Health Care Reform Bill H.R. 4872

Here are details of the current state of legal challenges to the law:

RECENT DECISIONS

* A U.S. federal judge in Florida said Congress exceeded its authority in requiring Americans to buy health insurance and imposed an injunction against the law. Judge Roger Vinson said the entire law “must be declared void” because the requirement is inextricably linked to other parts of law. The federal government is expected to appeal the decision, and will likely seek a stay of the ruling pending review of the appeal. Continue reading

Tax Hikes in Obamacare

[PDF version]

Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on an historic repeal of the Obamacare law.  While there are many reasons to oppose this flawed government health insurance law, it is important to remember that Obamacare is also one of the largest tax increases in American history.  Below is a comprehensive list of the two dozen new or higher taxes that pay for Obamcare’s expansion of government spending and interference between doctors and patients.

Individual Mandate Excise Tax(Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following

1 Adult 2 Adults 3+ Adults
2014 1% AGI/$95 1% AGI/$190 1% AGI/$285
2015 2% AGI/$325 2% AGI/$650 2% AGI/$975
2016 + 2.5% AGI/$695 2.5% AGI/$1390 2.5% AGI/$2085

Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS)

Continue reading

Obama Attack Social Security

Obama’s tax compromise not only gives a 700 billion dollar tax break to billionaires but has an even more dangerous aspect. It is the Trojan horse provision that threatens to destroy Social Security by undermining the longterm solvency of the social insurance system. Obama is proposing to knock 2 per cent off deductions that every worker regularly contributes to the Social Security Trust Fund. Social Security is funded by a 6.2 percent payroll tax on the first $106,800 earned by a worker. The tax is matched by employers. The package negotiated by Obama would reduce the tax paid by workers to 4.2 percent for 2011. Continue reading

The Bush Tax Cuts

The Bush tax cuts refers to two laws created and passed during the presidency of George W. Bush that generally lowered tax rates and revised the code specifying taxation in the United States. These were the:

The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (Pub.L. 107-16, 115 Stat. 38, June 7, 2001), was a sweeping piece of tax legislation. It is commonly known by its abbreviation EGTRRA, often pronounced “egg-tra” or “egg-terra”, and sometimes also known simply as the 2001 act. The Act made significant changes in several areas of the US Internal Revenue Code, including income tax rates, estate and gift tax exclusions, and qualified and retirement plan rules. In general, the act lowered tax rates and simplified retirement and qualified plan rules such as for Individual retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, 403(b), and pension plans. Many of the tax reductions in EGTRRA were designed to be phased in over a period of up to 9 years.

One of the most notable characteristics of EGTRRA is that its provisions are designed to sunset, or revert to the provisions that were in effect before it was passed. EGTRRA will sunset on January 1, 2011 unless further legislation is enacted to make its changes permanent. The sunset provision sidesteps the Byrd Rule, a Senate rule that amends the Congressional Budget Act to allow Senators to block a piece of legislation if it purports to significantly increase the federal deficit beyond a ten-year term. In addition to the tax cuts implemented by the EGTRRA, it initiated a series of rebates for all taxpayers that filed a tax return for 2000. The rebate was up to a maximum of $300 for single filers with no dependents, $500 for single parents, and $600 for married couples. Continue reading

Barack Obama’s Father Was Murdered In Kenya

American tabloid Globe claims the President’s mysterious father was murdered in Kenya. Barack’s sister reportedly makes the allegations in a chilling new book.”MythBusters”: His father was not killed in a car accident in 1982, as was reported, but was murdered. So goes a family theory investigated by Peter Firstbrook in his history of President Barack Obama’s African side of the family, “The Obamas,” and dissected by Obama biographer David Remnick in a post today on the New Yorker’s website. Barack Obama’s extended family paints a colorful picture, and it’s one he’d probably prefer you not see. Attempting to research his family, including all his father’s wives and mistresses, and all his half-siblings, Obama shares a father with seven half-siblings, and a mother with one.

Barack Obama, Sr. was married to at least three women, always 2 at a time, and fathered eight children with four different women. When Barack Sr. left Kenya for Hawaii, where he met Barack Jr.’s mother Ann, he left behind a wife named Kezia, whom he married in a local tribal ceremony at age 18. They had a son named Abongo (also known as Roy or Malik), born in 1958, and at the time he left for Hawaii, Kezia was pregnant with Auma, the senior Obama’s only daughter. Continue reading

John Boehner Victory Speech (Transcript)

Here is the full text of his speech, which he made at the Election Night Results Watch in the Grand Hyatt Ballroom in Washington DC:
“Let me just say this: it’s clear who the winners are tonight, and that’s the American people. Your voice was heard at the ballot box! Your voice!
“Listen, I’ll be brief, because we have real work to do – and this is not a time for celebration, not when one in 10 of our fellow citizens are out of work, not when we have buried our children under a mountain of debt, not when our Congress is held in such low esteem.
Continue reading

2010 Election Winners And Losers

Republicans increasing their power across the board—taking back control of the U.S. House, closing the gap with Democrats in the Senate, and capturing key governorships—it’s worth taking a closer look at how select races of special interest to business were decided. 2010 Senate/House/Governors Election Results

The House of Representatives

South Carolina-5: House Budget Chairman John Spratt lost to GOP state senator Mick Mulvaney in a district that hasn’t been represented by a Republican in more than a century. Spratt, who had been in the House since 1983, was far from being a liberal yet business groups waged an independent campaign against him and said he was a big supporter of “Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.” Continue reading

Obama Argues With Hecklers

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Education of a President

Education of a President

By PETER BAKER
Published: October 12, 2010
On a busy afternoon in the West Wing late last month, President Barack Obama seemed relaxed and unhurried as he sat down in a newly reupholstered brown leather chair in the Oval Office. He had just returned from the East Room, where he signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 ­— using eight pens so he could give away as many as possible. The act will be his administration’s last piece of significant economic legislation before voters deliver their verdict on his first two years in office. For all intents and purposes, the first chapter of Obama’s presidency has ended. On Election Day, the next chapter will begin. 

As he welcomed me, I told him I liked what he had done with the place. Gone was George W. Bush’s yellow sunburst carpet (it says “optimistic person,” Bush would tell practically anyone who visited), and in its place was a much-derided earth-tone rug with inspirational quotations. The curved walls now had striped tan wallpaper, and the coffee table had been replaced by a walnut-and-mica table that, Obama noted, would resist stains from water glasses. The bust of Winston Churchill was replaced by one of Martin Luther King Jr. The couches were new. He told me he was happy with the redecorating of the office. “I know Arianna doesn’t like it,” he said lightly. “But I like taupe.”

If there was something incongruous about the president of the United States checking out reviews of his décor by Arianna Huffington, well, let’s face it, he has endured worse reviews lately. The president who muscled through Congress perhaps the most ambitious domestic agenda in a generation finds himself vilified by the right, castigated by the left and abandoned by the middle. He heads into the final stretch of the midterm campaign season facing likely repudiation, with voters preparing to give him a Congress that, even if Democrats maintain control, will almost certainly be less friendly to the president than the one he has spent the last two years mud wrestling.

While proud of his record, Obama has already begun thinking about what went wrong — and what he needs to do to change course for the next two years. He has spent what one aide called “a lot of time talking about Obama 2.0” with his new interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, and his deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina. During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called “tactical lessons.” He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.” He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works. Perhaps he should not have proposed tax breaks as part of his stimulus and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” so it could be seen as a bipartisan compromise.

Most of all, he has learned that, for all his anti-Washington rhetoric, he has to play by Washington rules if he wants to win in Washington. It is not enough to be supremely sure that he is right if no one else agrees with him. “Given how much stuff was coming at us,” Obama told me, “we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.”

That presumes that what he did was the right thing, a matter of considerable debate. The left thinks he did too little; the right too much. But what is striking about Obama’s self-diagnosis is that by his own rendering, the figure of inspiration from 2008 neglected the inspiration after his election. He didn’t stay connected to the people who put him in office in the first place. Instead, he simultaneously disappointed those who considered him the embodiment of a new progressive movement and those who expected him to reach across the aisle to usher in a postpartisan age. On the campaign trail lately, Obama has been confronted by disillusionment — the woman who was “exhausted” defending him, the mother whose son campaigned for him but was now looking for work. Even Shepard Fairey, the artist who made the iconic multihued “Hope” poster, says he’s losing hope.

Perhaps that should have come as no surprise. When Obama secured the Democratic nomination in June 2008, he told an admiring crowd that someday “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”

I read that line to Obama and asked how his high-flying rhetoric sounded in these days of low-flying governance. “It sounds ambitious,” he agreed. “But you know what? We’ve made progress on each of those fronts.” He quoted Mario Cuomo’s line about campaigning in poetry and governing in prose. “But the prose and the poetry match up,” he said. “It would be very hard for people to look back and say, You know what, Obama didn’t do what he’s promised. I think they could say, On a bunch of fronts he still has an incomplete. But I keep a checklist of what we committed to doing, and we’ve probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we talked about during the campaign. And I hope as long as I’m president, I’ve got a chance to work on the other 30 percent.”

But save the planet? If you promise to save the planet, might people think you would, you know, actually save the planet? He laughed, before shifting back to hope and inspiration. “I make no apologies for having set high expectations for myself and for the country, because I think we can meet those expectations,” he said. “Now, the one thing that I will say — which I anticipated and can be tough — is the fact that in a big, messy democracy like this, everything takes time. And we’re not a culture that’s built on patience.”

These days, Obama has been seeking guidance in presidential biographies. He is reading, among others, “The Clinton Tapes,” Taylor Branch’s account of his secret interviews with Bill Clinton during the eight years of his presidency. “I was looking over some chronicles of the Clinton years,” Obama told me, “and was reminded that in ’94 — when President Clinton’s poll numbers were lower than mine, and obviously the election ended up being bad for Democrats — unemployment was only 6.6 percent. And I don’t think anybody would suggest that Bill Clinton wasn’t a good communicator or was somebody who couldn’t connect with the American people or didn’t show empathy.”

In the fall of 1994, things were even better than Obama recalls: unemployment was in fact 5.6 percent. If the feel-your-pain president had trouble when the economy was not nearly as bad as it is now, with 9.6 percent unemployment, then maybe the issue for Obama is not that he is too cool or detached, as some pundits say. When the economy is bad, even the most talented of presidents suffer at the polls. “There is an anti-establishment mood,” Rahm Emanuel, the former Clinton aide who served as Obama’s first White House chief of staff, told me before he stepped down this month. “We just happen to be here when the music is stopping.”

It would be bad form for the president to anticipate an election result before it happens, but clearly Obama hopes that just as Clinton recovered from his party’s midterm shellacking in 1994 to win re-election two years later, so can he. There was something odd in hearing Obama invoke Clinton. Two years ago, Obama scorned the 42nd president, deriding the small-ball politics and triangulation maneuvers and comparing him unfavorably with Ronald Reagan. Running against Clinton’s wife, Obama was the anti-Clinton. Now he hopes, in a way, to be the second coming of Bill Clinton. Because, in the end, it’s better than being Jimmy Carter.

Last month, I made my way through the West Wing talking not only with Obama but also with nearly two dozen of his advisers — some of whom spoke with permission, others without — hoping to understand how the situation looks to them. The view from inside the administration starts with a basic mantra: Obama inherited the worst problems of any president in years. Or in generations. Or in American history. He prevented another Great Depression while putting in place the foundation for a more stable future. But it required him to do unpopular things that would inevitably cost him.

“He got here, and the expectations for what he could accomplish were very high and probably unrealistic,” Pete Rouse told me. Indeed, David Axelrod and David Plouffe, the masterminds of the 2008 presidential campaign, said they cautioned Obama after his victory to brace himself for a precipitous drop in his popularity given the severity of his challenges. “I told him at some point that at the end of ’10, his approval rating could be low- to mid-30s,” Plouffe told me.

Yet even if the White House saw it coming, this is an administration that feels shellshocked. Many officials worry, they say, that the best days of the Obama presidency are behind them. They talk about whether it is time to move on. While not in the 30s, Obama’s approval rating in surveys conducted by The New York Times and CBS News had fallen to 45 percent last month from 62 percent when he took office — just a point above where Clinton was before losing Congress in 1994 and three points above where Reagan was before the Republicans lost a couple dozen House seats in 1982. Joel Benenson, Obama’s pollster, pointed out that even at 45 percent, the president’s popularity eclipses that of Congress, the news media, the banks and other forces in American life. “We are in a time when the American public is highly suspect of any institution,” he said, “and President Obama still stands above that.” Obama’s team takes pride that he has fulfilled three of the five major promises he laid out as pillars of his “new foundation” in an April 2009 speech at Georgetown University — health care, education reform and financial reregulation. And they point to decisions to end the combat mission in Iraq while escalating the war in Afghanistan. “History will judge Obama that the first two years were very productive,” Rouse says.

But it is possible to win the inside game and lose the outside game. In their darkest moments, White House aides wonder aloud whether it is even possible for a modern president to succeed, no matter how many bills he signs. Everything seems to conspire against the idea: an implacable opposition with little if any real interest in collaboration, a news media saturated with triviality and conflict, a culture that demands solutions yesterday, a societal cynicism that holds leadership in low regard. Some White House aides who were ready to carve a new spot on Mount Rushmore for their boss two years ago privately concede now that he cannot be another Abraham Lincoln after all. In this environment, they have increasingly concluded, it may be that every modern president is going to be, at best, average.

“We’re all a lot more cynical now,” one aide told me. The easy answer is to blame the Republicans, and White House aides do that with exuberance. But they are also looking at their own misjudgments, the hubris that led them to think they really could defy the laws of politics. “It’s not that we believed our own press or press releases, but there was definitely a sense at the beginning that we could really change Washington,” another White House official told me. “ ‘Arrogance’ isn’t the right word, but we were overconfident.”

The biggest miscalculation in the minds of most Obama advisers was the assumption that he could bridge a polarized capital and forge genuinely bipartisan coalitions. While Republican leaders resolved to stand against Obama, his early efforts to woo the opposition also struck many as halfhearted. “If anybody thought the Republicans were just going to roll over, we were just terribly mistaken,” former Senator Tom Daschle, a mentor and an outside adviser to Obama, told me. “I’m not sure anybody really thought that, but I think we kind of hoped the Republicans would go away. And obviously they didn’t do that.”

Senator Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the upper chamber and Obama’s ally from Illinois, said the Republicans were to blame for the absence of bipartisanship. “I think his fate was sealed,” Durbin said. “Once the Republicans decided they would close ranks to defeat him, that just made it extremely difficult and dragged it out for a longer period of time. The American people have a limited attention span. Once you convince them there’s a problem, they want a solution.”

Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, though, is among the Democrats who grade Obama harshly for not being more nimble in the face of opposition. “B-plus, A-minus on substantive accomplishments,” he told me, “and a D-plus or C-minus on communication.” The health care legislation is “an incredible achievement” and the stimulus program was “absolutely, unqualifiedly, enormously successful,” in Rendell’s judgment, yet Obama allowed them to be tarnished by critics. “They lost the communications battle on both major initiatives, and they lost it early,” said Rendell, an ardent Hillary Clinton backer who later became an Obama supporter. “We didn’t use the president in either stimulus or health care until we had lost the spin battle.”

That’s a refrain heard inside the White House as well: it’s a communication problem. The first refuge of any politician in trouble is that it’s a communication problem, not a policy problem. If only I explained what I was doing better, the people would be more supportive. Which roughly translates to If only you people paid attention, you wouldn’t be kicking me upside the head. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, laughed at the ever-ready assumption that all problems stem from poor communication. “I haven’t been at a policy-problem meeting in 20 months,” he noted.

The policy criticism of Obama can be confusing and deeply contradictory — he is a liberal zealot, in the view of the right; a weak accommodationist, in the view of the left. He is an anticapitalist socialist who is too cozy with Wall Street, a weak-on-defense apologist for America who adopted Bush’s unrelenting antiterror tactics at the expense of civil liberties.

“When he talked about being a transformational president, it was about restoring the faith of the American people in our governing institutions,” says Ken Duberstein, the former Reagan White House chief of staff who voted for Obama in 2008. “What we now know is that that did not work. If anything, people are even more dubious about all of our institutions, especially government. So to that extent, the transformational side has not worked. And frankly I would settle these days — forget about transformational, how about a transactional president, somebody people could do business with? It seems there’s an ideological rigidity that the American people did not sense.”

The other side would like more ideological rigidity. Norman Solomon, a leading progressive activist and the president of the Institute for Public Accuracy, said Obama has “totally blown this great opportunity” to reinvent America by being more aggressive on issues like a public health care option. Other liberals feel the same way about gays in the military or the prison at Guántanamo Bay. “It’s been so reflexive since he was elected, to just give ground and give ground,” Solomon told me. “If we don’t call him a wimp, which may be the wrong word, he just seems to be backpedaling.” Solomon added: “It makes people feel angry and perhaps used. People just feel like, Gee, we really believed in this guy, and his rhetoric is so different than the way he’s behaved in office.”

Pummeled from both sides, Obama clearly seems frustrated and, at times, defensive. At a Labor Day event in Milwaukee, he complained that the special interests treat him badly. “They’re not always happy with me,” he told supporters. “They talk about me like a dog — that’s not in my prepared remarks, but it’s true.”

The friendly fire may bother him even more. “Democrats just congenitally tend to see the glass as half empty,” Obama said at a fund-raiser in Greenwich, Conn., last month. “If we get an historic health care bill passed — oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed — then, well, I don’t know about this particular derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that. And, gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace. I thought that was going to happen quicker.”

Then again, it is Obama himself, and not just his supporters, who casts his presidency in grandiose terms. As he pleaded with Democrats for patience at another fund-raiser in Washington two weeks later: “It took time to free the slaves. It took time for women to get the vote. It took time for workers to get the right to organize.”

One morning around the 100-day mark in Obama’s administration, the president and his top aides gathered for their morning meeting in the Oval Office. As they waited for David Axelrod, who was running late, someone noted the coming milestone and asked Obama what surprised him most since taking office. “The number of people who don’t pay their taxes,” he answered sardonically.

From the start, Obama has been surprised by all sorts of challenges that have made it hard for him to govern — not just the big problems that he knew about, like the economy and the wars, but also the myriad little ones that hindered his progress, like one nominee after another brought down by unpaid taxes. Obama trusted his judgment and seemed to have assumed that impressive people in his own party must have a certain basic sense of integrity — and that impressive people in the other party must want to work with him.

Four of the five presidents previous to Obama were governors who came to Washington vowing to fix it, only to realize that Washington defies the easy, and often hollow, rhetoric of change. While Obama was a senator when he set off on the campaign trail, he made the same pledges and has encountered the same reality. “The story of the first two years is the inherent conflict between a guy who ran from outside to change Washington, gets here and the situation was even worse than we thought it was,” a senior aide told me. “Here’s a guy who ran as an outsider to change Washington who all of a sudden realized that just to deal with these issues, we were going to have to work with Washington to fix that.”

Obama does little to disguise his disdain for Washington and the conventions of modern politics. When he emerges from the Oval Office during the day, aides say, he sometimes pauses before the split-screen television in the outer reception area, soaks in the cable chatter, then shakes his head and walks away. “He’s still never gotten comfortable here,” a top White House official told me. He has little patience for what Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, calls “the inevitable theatrics of Washington.”

But in politics, theater matters, whether it should or not, a lesson Obama keeps relearning, however grudgingly. His decision to redecorate the Oval Office was criticized as an unnecessary luxury in a time of austerity, no matter that it was paid for by private funds. On the campaign trail, he thought it was silly to wear a flag pin, as if that were a measure of his patriotism, until his refusal to wear a flag pin generated distracting criticism and one day he showed up wearing one. Likewise, he thought it was enough to pray in private while living in the White House, and then a poll showed that most Americans weren’t sure he’s Christian; sure enough, a few weeks later, he attended services at St. John’s Church across from Lafayette Square, photographers in tow.

Obama came to office with enormous faith in his own powers of persuasion. He seemed to believe he could overcome divisions if he just sat down with the world’s most recalcitrant figures — whether they be the mullahs in Tehran or the Republicans on Capitol Hill. As it turned out, the candidate who said he would be willing to meet in his first year with some of America’s enemies “without precondition” has met with none of them. And the president who in his State of the Union address this year promised to meet monthly with leaders of both parties in Congress ended up doing so just half as often.

He has yet to fully decide whether he is of Washington or apart from it. During the health care debate, Obama had Emanuel cut deals with the pharmaceutical industry, while Axelrod presented the president as above the old business as usual. “Perhaps we were naïve,” Axelrod told me. “First, he’s always had good relations across party lines. And secondly, I think he believed that in the midst of a crisis you could find partners on the other side of the aisle to help deal with it. I don’t think anyone here expected the degree of partisanship that we confronted.” Emanuel said Republicans adopted a strategy of poisoning the public well. “Part of what they were doing was not just making us grind it out,” he told me. “They were souring the country on the mood of the country.”

Still, Obama plays the partisan game as well. After months of quiet negotiations, some administration officials thought they were close to a package of new financial regulations with Republican support when, to their chagrin, the White House decided to use the issue to wage a high-profile and politically useful battle with Wall Street special interests. At that point, the chances for a deal across party lines collapsed, administration officials said, and Obama was left to rely almost entirely on Democratic votes.

Obama advisers who left the White House recently have been struck how different, and worse, things look from the outside. As he made a round of corporate job interviews after stepping down as White House budget director, Peter Orszag was stunned to discover how deep the gulf between the president and business had become. “I’d thought it was an 8, but it’s more like a 10,” he told me. “And rather than wasting time debating whether it’s legitimate,” he added, referring to his former colleagues, “the key is to recognize that it’s affecting what they do.”

Insulation is a curse of every president, but more than any president since Jimmy Carter, Obama comes across as an introvert, someone who finds extended contact with groups of people outside his immediate circle to be draining. He can rouse a stadium of 80,000 people, but that audience is an impersonal monolith; smaller group settings can be harder for him. Aides have learned that it can be good if he has a few moments after a big East Room event so he can gather his energy again. Unlike Clinton, who never met a rope line he did not want to work, Obama does not relish glad-handing. That’s what he has Vice President Joe Biden for. When Obama addressed the Business Roundtable this year, he left after his speech without much meet-and-greet, leaving his aides frustrated that he had done himself more harm than good. He is not much for chitchat. When he and I sat down, he started our session matter-of-factly: “All right,” he said, “fire away.”

By all accounts, Obama copes with his political troubles with equanimity. “Zen” is the word commonly used in the West Wing. That’s not to say he never loses his temper. He has been known to snap at aides when he feels overscheduled. He cuts off advisers who spout information straight from briefing papers with a testy “I’ve already read that.” He does not like it when aides veer out of their assigned lanes, yet they have learned to show up at meetings with an opinion, because he zeroes in on those who stay silent. He was subdued during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, when he found himself largely powerless. Other presidents took refuge at Camp David, but Michelle Obama has told dinner guests that her husband does not care for it all that much, because he is an urban guy. He blows off steam on the White House basketball court. “Come on, man, you’ve got to make that shot,” he chides aides who play with him.

The most obvious sign of strain is in his hair. “He’ll probably be unhappy with me for saying, but I’ve noticed he’s gotten a little grayer,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told me over the summer. “These kinds of decisions do that to people.” But the stress of the job remains mostly unspoken. “We usually will talk about writing the condolence letters,” Gates added. “But other than that, we don’t dwell on it.” If anything, Obama more often than not bucks up young members of his staff, reminding them that politics, like life, is full of cycles and they will someday be able to tell their children that they were part of something big.

While Clinton made late-night phone calls around Washington to vent or seek advice, Obama rarely reaches outside the tight group of advisers like Emanuel, Axelrod, Rouse, Messina, Plouffe, Gibbs and Jarrett, as well as a handful of personal friends. “He’s opaque even to us,” an aide told me. “Except maybe for a few people in the inner circle, he’s a closed book.” In part because of security, just 15 people have his BlackBerry e-mail address. On long Air Force One flights, he retreats to the conference room and plays spades for hours, maintaining a trash-talking contest all the while, with the same three aides: Reggie Love, his personal assistant; Marvin Nicholson, his trip director; and Pete Souza, his White House photographer. (When I asked if he had an iPad, Obama said, “I have an iReggie, who has my books, my newspapers, my music all in one place.”)

Jarrett attributes Obama’s equilibrium to his upbringing. “He’s really different,” she told me. “It’s rooted in his sense of self and how he grew up with a single mom, living at times on food stamps, working as a community organizer.” As Gibbs put it: “He has a remarkable way of focusing on the big picture and the longer term. It’s not to say that he’s immune from criticism. But he can categorize in his head the difference between what’s a setback, what’s a bump along the way and what’s just noise.”

There is certainly no shortage of noise. But as Obama gets back on the campaign trail, aides have noticed his old spirit again. He particularly enjoys the so-called backyard sessions on the lawns of supporters. “That’s the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time,” an aide said. After one, Obama told the aide, “This reminds me of Iowa on the bus.”

Nostalgia for the good old days of the campaign afflicts any White House in trouble. After all, those were the romantic moments when all was possible, when tens of thousands of people would gather in Grant Park to tear up over the promise of what will be. But in sober moments, Obama understands how selective the memories really are. “The mythology has emerged somehow that we ran this flawless campaign, I never made a mistake, that we were master communicators, everything worked in lock step,” he told me. “And somehow now, as president, things are messy and they don’t always work as planned and people are mad at us. That’s not how I look at stuff, because I remember what the campaign was like. And it was just as messy and just as difficult. And there were all sorts of moments when our supporters lost hope, and it looked like we weren’t going to win. And we’re going through that same period here.”

In covering the last three presidents, I have watched as each has been tested, albeit in very different circumstances — Clinton’s impeachment over false testimony under oath about an affair with a White House intern, Bush’s drive to begin a war that would drag on for years at enormous cost and Obama’s struggle to turn around the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. They are starkly variable crises, but some dynamics are familiar: presidents who live and die by polls insist they are not important when they fall; they argue that they are focused on principle, not politics, when it’s almost always a mixture of both; they acknowledge difficulties but say they will pass; they portray themselves as courageous when flying against public opinion; they complain that the news media distort the situation and fuel division; they blame their opponents for practicing the politics of destruction and obstruction.

Talking with Obama and his aides, it’s eerie to hear echoes of Clinton and Bush. Obama says the easy issues never make it to him, only the hard ones; Bush often said the same thing. Obama says our war with terrorists will never end in a surrender ceremony; Bush often said the same thing. Obama says he does not want to kick problems down the road; Bush often said the same thing. In the days leading up to the 1994 midterm elections, Clinton mocked Republicans for promising to balance the budget while cutting taxes, saying, “They’re not serious.” In our conversation, Obama used some variation of the phrase “they’re not serious” four times in referring to Republican budget plans.

That is not to say the three men are alike; indeed, they are vastly different. But putting ideology aside, Obama at times seems to be a cross between his two predecessors. Like Clinton, he digs into the intellectual underpinnings of a policy decision, studying briefing books and seeking a range of opinions. Some aides express frustration that he can leave decisions unresolved for too long. But like Bush, once he has made a decision, Obama rarely revisits it. And like Bush, he runs a pretty disciplined operation; he started our interview a half-hour ahead of schedule, just as Bush sometimes did. Clinton, on the other hand, still runs on Clinton Standard Time. Just a few weeks ago, he was more than six hours late for a scheduled interview with another journalist. One constant among all three: It took Clinton and Bush some time to really grow into the presidency, until they wore it comfortably.

As Obama looks to the experiences of Clinton and Reagan, who both rebounded from midterm debacles to win re-election, the lessons differ. In Reagan’s case, the House was already in Democratic hands, so during his first two years, he forged coalitions of Republicans and conservative Democrats. After the opposition was strengthened in the 1982 elections, that was no longer viable, and Reagan began working more with Democratic leaders. Clinton likewise changed course after the 1994 elections, emphasizing more incremental, piece-by-piece change rather than sweeping proposals and pursuing goals like welfare reform and balanced budgets when he could agree with Newt Gingrich’s new majority.

Clinton, though, was more instinctively centrist than Obama is, and his revival owed much to other factors, particularly his leadership after the Oklahoma City bombing and his budget standoff with Gingrich during the partial government shutdown. Some argue Obama might be better off with at least one Republican chamber so he too has a foil as Clinton did. But it is unclear if Obama is as agile a politician as Reagan or Clinton. “He’s no Bill Clinton when it comes to having the ability to move and to wiggle,” says Joe Gaylord, a top Gingrich adviser. “I find rigidity in Obama that comes from his life in liberalism.” Ken Duberstein likewise doubts Obama’s capacity for adjustment. “They’re much better at the art of campaigning than the art of governing,” he said.

Perhaps the more important historical pattern to consider is this one: The last four presidents who failed to win a second term were all challenged in their own party. Lyndon Johnson was driven out of the race in 1968 after nearly losing the New Hampshire primary to Eugene McCarthy. Gerald Ford fended off Reagan in 1976 but went on to lose the general election to Carter, who likewise had to beat a primary challenger four years later, Ted Kennedy, before falling to Reagan. And George H. W. Bush had to overcome Patrick Buchanan before losing to Clinton in 1992.

So it is a high priority for Obama to prevent any intraparty fight in 2012, and to date, despite the fire from the left, no serious challenger appears on the horizon. Putting Hillary Clinton in the cabinet may turn out to be one of Obama’s smartest moves, because it not only eliminated her as a would-be challenger, but it also should presumably squelch the will-she-or-won’t-she speculation that otherwise would have played out for months. (Instead, the guessing game has her replacing Biden on the ticket, however fanciful that might be.)

As the first African-American president, Obama is more aware than most of the limits of looking back. But he also has read enough presidential biographies to know he is not the first to encounter rocky times. “History never precisely repeats itself,” Obama told me. “But there is a pattern in American presidencies — at least modern presidencies. You come in with excitement and fanfare. The other party initially, having been beaten, says it wants to cooperate with you. You start implementing your program as you promised during the campaign. The other party pushes back very hard. It causes a lot of consternation and drama in Washington. People who are already cynical and skeptical about Washington generally look at it and say, This is the same old mess we’ve seen before. The president’s poll numbers drop. And you have to then sort of wrestle back the confidence of the people as the programs that you’ve put in place start bearing fruit.”

To better understand history, and his role in it, Obama invited a group of presidential scholars to dinner in May in the living quarters of the White House. Obama was curious about, among other things, the Tea Party movement. Were there precedents for this sort of backlash against the establishment? What sparked them and how did they shape American politics? The historians recalled the Know-Nothings in the 1850s, the Populists in the 1890s and Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930s. “He listened,” the historian H. W. Brands told me. “What he concluded, I don’t know.”

Obama’s conclusions are still being formed. He has learned that “Washington is even more broken than we thought,” as one aide put it. He has trusted his own judgment as he disregarded advisers who told him to scale back health care at various stages. And he has found that his vaunted speaking skills are not enough to change the dynamics of governance. “One of the lessons he has to learn is What is the best form of communication for him with the American people,” the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told me. “He’s so good in front of an audience, and I get the sense that he needs the energy off the audience. And so speaking to television cameras doesn’t really do that.”

As we talked in the Oval Office, Obama acknowledged that the succession of so many costly initiatives, necessary as they may have been, wore on the public. “That accumulation of numbers on the TV screen night in and night out in those first six months I think deeply and legitimately troubled people,” he told me. “They started feeling like: Gosh, here we are tightening our belts, we’re cutting out restaurants, we’re cutting out our gym membership, in some cases we’re not buying new clothes for the kids. And here we’ve got these folks in Washington who just seem to be printing money and spending it like nobody’s business.

“And it reinforced the narrative that the Republicans wanted to promote anyway, which was Obama is not a different kind of Democrat — he’s the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.”

Emanuel told me that the cascading crises in Obama’s early days exacted a lasting toll. “The seeds of his political difficulty today were planted in taking those steps,” he said. White House officials largely agree they should not have let the health care process drag out while waiting for Republican support that would never come. “It’s not what people felt they sent Barack Obama to Washington to do, to be legislator in chief,” a top adviser told me. “It lent itself to the perception that he wasn’t doing anything on the economy.” Plouffe agreed that guilt by association with Democratic lawmakers did not help. “When you swim in those waters, you’re going to be affected by that,” he said. “I do think he’s paid a political price, somewhat, for having to be tied to Congress.”

Still, for all the second-guessing, what you do not hear in the White House is much questioning of the basic elements of the program — Obama aides, liberal and moderate alike, reject complaints from the right that the stimulus did not help the economy or that health care expands government too much, as well as complaints from the left that he should have pushed for a bigger stimulus package or held out for a public health care option. “We asked for more stimulus than we ended up with,” Larry Summers, the outgoing national economics adviser, told me. “But we fought as hard as we could, and I believe we got as much as Congress was ever going to give us at that time.”

And they argue that any mistakes affected things only at the margins. “There’s all this talk in this town — if we had done energy before health care, if we had focused more on small business, if we had done an Oval on the economy instead of Iraq, we would be doing better,” Dan Pfeiffer, the communications director, says. “I don’t believe that. We could always do things differently, and there are plenty of things I wish I had back. But I don’t know they’d change the overall trend.”

Melody Barnes, the president’s domestic-policy adviser, says the biggest problem was that after eight years of Bush, Obama’s supporters were very eager to change everything right away. “The pent-up demand across every issue area — around science, around education, around health care, immigration, you name it — there was a lot of desire to finally get these things done,” she told me. “Every segment of the population had something that was very important to them that they really wanted to put over the finish line.”

Obama is preaching patience in an impatient age. One prominent Democratic lawmaker told me Obama’s problem is that he is not insecure — he always believes he is the smartest person in any room and never feels the sense of panic that makes a good politician run scared all the time, frenetically wooing lawmakers, power brokers, adversaries and voters as if the next election were a week away.

Instead, what you hear Obama aides talking about is that the system is “not on the level.” That’s a phrase commonly used around the West Wing — “it’s not on the level.” By that, they mean the Republicans, the news media, the lobbyists, the whole Washington culture is not serious about solving problems. The challenge, as they see it, is how to rise above a town that can obsess for a week on whether an obscure Agriculture Department official in Georgia should have been fired. At the same time, as Emanuel told me, “We have to play the game.”

As Brands, the historian, put it, “It’ll be really interesting to see if a president who is thinking long term can have an impact on a political system that is almost irredeemably short term in its perspective.”

“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” So Obama told Diane Sawyer of ABC News last January at another low point, just after the Republican Scott Brown captured the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by Ted Kennedy, costing Democrats their filibuster-proof control of the upper chamber and jeopardizing the president’s health care plan.

It’s a good line, but it’s one of those things easier said in the first or second year of a presidency. By the third, it starts to become an actual choice. Forks in the road require a president to decide if he will advance ideas that will genuinely change the country even if deeply unpopular or if he will opt instead for a safer route that does not put re-election at risk. Obama aides like to argue that he has already demonstrated willingness to put aside politics by bailing out the banks and automakers, decisions that he saw as critical to preventing greater economic catastrophe (and that ultimately cost taxpayers far less than initially feared).

But would he jeopardize re-election absent an immediate crisis? The choice may confront him soon after the midterms when his bipartisan fiscal commission reports back by Dec. 1 with plans to tame the national deficit with a politically volatile menu of unpalatable options, like scaling back Medicare and Social Security while raising taxes. Obama also anticipates putting immigration reform, another divisive issue fraught with political danger, back on the table. “If the question is, Over the next two years do I take a pass on tough stuff,” he told me, “the answer is no.”

Obama’s aides say they will most likely set up their re-election campaign around next March, roughly the same as when Bush and Clinton incorporated their incumbent campaign operations. They are more optimistic about 2012 than they are about 2010, believing the Tea Party will re-elect Barack Obama by pulling the Republican nominee to the right. They doubt Sarah Palin will run and figure Mitt Romney cannot get the Republican nomination because he enacted his own health care program in Massachusetts. If they had to guess today, some in the White House say that Obama will find himself running against Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

With that campaign on the horizon, Obama asked Pete Rouse and Jim Messina to begin thinking about the next phase of his presidency, not just personnel but also priorities and message. Never mind that Rouse was among those who wanted to leave — for years, he has been saying he wanted out of politics but never says no to Obama. Indeed, when Rouse told colleagues he wanted to leave the White House by the end of this year, Messina bet him $400 that he would not. “We’ll see what happens,” Rouse told me when I asked about the bet last month. Then Obama made Rouse interim chief of staff. Rouse initially resisted moving into Rahm Emanuel’s corner suite until colleagues threatened to move his files for him. Messina jokes that Rouse will turn off the Oval Office lights after eight years and before assuming his new job, running Obama’s presidential library.

Rouse is managing a slow-motion White House shuffle. By year’s end, there will be a new chief of staff, a new national-economics adviser, a new budget director, a new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and a new national-security adviser, among others. Axelrod and Messina expect to leave by spring to set up Obama’s re-election effort, and Plouffe will almost certainly come into the White House in a senior role.

“There are a lot of lessons learned in the last two years in terms of how we might improve internal communication, encourage greater accountability without discouraging individual initiative,” said one aide familiar with the discussions led by Rouse and Messina. Obama has been aggravated by friction among his advisers. “He’s a little frustrated with the internal dysfunction,” the aide said. “He doesn’t like confrontation.” But his initial choices to fill open slots have been drawn largely from his administration, suggesting more continuity than change.

Rouse and Messina see areas for possible bipartisan agreement, like reauthorizing the nation’s education laws to include reform measures favored by centrists and conservatives, passing long-pending trade pacts and possibly even producing scaled-back energy legislation. “You’ll hear more about exports and less about public spending,” a senior White House official said. “You’ll hear more about initiative and private sector and less about the Department of Energy. You’ll hear more about government as a financier and less about government as a hirer.”

Obama expressed optimism to me that he could make common cause with Republicans after the midterm elections. “It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible,” he said, “either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.”

I asked if there were any Republicans he trusted enough to work with on economic issues. The first name he came up with was Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who initially agreed to serve as Obama’s commerce secretary before changing his mind. But Gregg is retiring. The only other Republican named by Obama was Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who has put together a detailed if politically problematic blueprint for reducing federal spending. The two men are ideologically poles apart, but perhaps Obama sees a bit of himself in a young, substantive policy thinker.

Even if such an alliance emerges, though, the next two years will be mostly about cementing what Obama did in his first two years — and defending it against challenges in Congress and the courts. “Even if I had the exact same Congress, even if we don’t lose a seat in the Senate and we don’t lose a seat in the House, I think the rhythms of the next two years would inevitably be different from the rhythms of the first two years,” Obama told me. “There’s going to be a lot of work in this administration just doing things right and making sure that new laws are stood up in the ways they’re intended.”

As a senior adviser put it, “There’s going to be very little incentive for big things over the next two years unless there’s some sort of crisis.” Yet Obama and his aides still scorn Bill Clinton’s small-bore approach. “It’s fair to assume you’re not going to see school uniforms play a big role in the next two years,” Plouffe told me. “His view is you can’t spend two years playing four-corners.” Before he left, Emanuel told me: “I’m not of the view that you do nothing. I think you’ve got to have an agenda.”

But what sort of agenda? Not as sweeping and not as provocative, say some advisers. “It will have to be limited and focused on the things that are achievable and high priorities for the American people,” Dick Durbin told me. Tom Daschle said Obama would have to reach out to adversaries. “The lessons of the last two years are going to be critical,” he told me. “The key word is ‘inclusion.’ He’s got to find ways to be inclusive.”

Rendell thinks otherwise. “Don’t care so much about bipartisanship if the Republicans continue to refuse to cooperate,” he advised. “Do what you have to do. Fight back.” At the same time, he said, stop moaning about what he inherited: “After the election, I’d say no more pointing back, no more blaming the Bush administration. It’s O.K. to do that during the campaign and then stop. But to do it as much as we do it, it sounds like a broken record. And after two years, you own it.”

Obama will own it for another two years, or six if he can find his way forward. As an author, Obama appreciates the rhythms of a tumultuous story. But who is the protagonist, really? At bottom, this president is still a mystery to many Americans. During the campaign, he sold himself — or the idea of himself — more than any particular policy, and voters filled in the lines as they chose. He was, as he said at the time, the ultimate Rorschach test.

Now the lines are being filled in further. With each choice Obama makes, he further defines himself for better or worse in Americans’ minds. He says he knows where he is going and is gathering momentum despite the hurdles ahead. As he told a group of visitors during the week last spring that Congress passed health care and his administration reached agreement on an arms-control treaty with Russia, “I start slow, but I finish strong.”

He will have to, if the history he is writing is to turn out the way he prefers.

Peter Baker is a White House correspondent for The Times and a contributing writer for the magazine.

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20 State Lawsuit Challenging Obama Health Care

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Pensacola Division Case No.: 3:10-cv-91-RV/EMTSTATE OF FLORIDA, by and through
BILL McCOLLUM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA;
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, by and through
HENRY McMASTER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA;
STATE OF NEBRASKA, by and through
JON BRUNING, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF NEBRASKA;
STATE OF TEXAS, by and through
GREG ABBOTT, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF TEXAS;
STATE OF UTAH, by and through
MARK L. SHURTLEFF, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF UTAH;
STATE OF LOUISIANA, by and through
JAMES D. “BUDDY” CALDWELL, ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA;
STATE OF ALABAMA, by and through
TROY KING, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA;
MICHAEL A. COX, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, ON BEHALF OF
THE PEOPLE OF MICHIGAN;
STATE OF COLORADO, by and through
JOHN W. SUTHERS, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF COLORADO;
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, by
and through THOMAS W. CORBETT, Jr.,
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA;
STATE OF WASHINGTON, by and through
ROBERT M. McKENNA, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON;
STATE OF IDAHO, by and through
LAWRENCE G. WASDEN, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF IDAHO;
STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, by and through
MARTY J. JACKLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA;
STATE OF INDIANA, by and through
GREGORY F. ZOELLER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF INDIANA;
STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, by and through
WAYNE STENEJHEM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
OF THE STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA;
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, by and through
HALEY BARBOUR, GOVERNOR OF
THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI;
STATE OF ARIZONA, by and through JANICE K.
BREWER, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA;
STATE OF NEVADA, by and through JIM GIBBONS,
GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEVADA;
STATE OF GEORGIA, by and through SONNY PERDUE,
GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA;
STATE OF ALASKA, by and through
DANIEL S. SULLIVAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
THE STATE OF ALASKA;
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT
BUSINESS, a California nonprofit mutual benefit
corporation;
MARY BROWN, an individual; and
KAJ AHLBURG, an individual;
Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES;
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, in her official
capacity as the Secretary of the United States
Department of Health and Human Services;
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF
THE TREASURY; TIMOTHY F.
GEITHNER, in his official capacity as the
Secretary of the United States Department
of the Treasury; UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; and HILDA
L. SOLIS, in her official capacity as Secretary
of the United States Department of Labor,
Defendants.
___________________________________________/
AMENDED COMPLAINT
Pursuant to Rule 15(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and paragraph A of the Final Scheduling Order entered by the Court on April 14, 2010, Plaintiffs file this Amended Complaint against Defendants and state: 

NATURE OF THE ACTION
1. This is an action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” P.L. 111-148, as amended by the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010,” P.L. 111-152 (collectively the Act). The Act’s mandate that all citizens and legal residents of the United States maintain qualifying healthcare coverage or pay a penalty (individual mandate) is an unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the Plaintiff States and on the rights of their citizens, including members of Plaintiff National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and individual Plaintiffs Mary Brown and Kaj Ahlburg. By imposing such a mandate, the Act: exceeds the powers of the United States under Article I of the Constitution, particularly the Commerce Clause; violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the Constitution’s principles of federalism and dual sovereignty; and violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. In the alternative, if the penalty required under the Act is a tax, it constitutes an unlawful capitation or direct tax in violation of Article I, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution.

2. The Act further violates the Constitution by forcing the Plaintiff States to operate a wholly refashioned Medicaid program. The Act converts Medicaid from a federal-State partnership to provide a safety net for the needy into a federally-imposed universal healthcare regime, in which the discretion of the Plaintiff States has been removed and new requirements and expenses forced upon them in derogation of their sovereignty. In so doing, the Act violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the Constitution’s principles of federalism.

3. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief against the Act’s operation in order to avoid an unprecedented and unconstitutional intrusion by the federal government into the private affairs of every American and to preserve Plaintiff States’ respective sovereignty, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

4. The Court has subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because this action arises under the Constitution and laws of the United States and further has jurisdiction to render declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2201.

5. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e)(3) because no real property is involved, the district is situated in Florida, and the defendants are agencies of the United States or officers thereof acting in their official capacity.

PARTIES

6. The State of Florida, by and through Bill McCollum, Attorney General of Florida, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

7. The State of South Carolina, by and through Henry McMaster, Attorney General of South Carolina, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

8. The State of Nebraska, by and through Jon Bruning, Attorney General of Nebraska, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

9. The State of Texas, by and through Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

10. The State of Utah, by and through Mark L. Shurtleff, Attorney General of Utah, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

11. The State of Alabama, by and through Troy King, Attorney General of Alabama, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

12. The State of Louisiana, by and through James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, Attorney General of Louisiana, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

13. Michael A. Cox, Attorney General of Michigan, is bringing this action on behalf of the People of Michigan under Mich. Comp. Law § 14.28, which provides that the Michigan Attorney General may “appear for the people of [Michigan] in any other court or tribunal, in any cause or matter, civil or criminal, in which the people of [Michigan] may be a party or interested.” Under Michigan’s constitution, the people are sovereign. Mich. Const. art. I, § 1 (“All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security,. and protection.”).

14. The State of Colorado, by and through John W. Suthers, Attorney General of Colorado, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

15. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by and through Thomas W. Corbett, Jr., Attorney General of Pennsylvania, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

16. The State of Washington, by and through Robert A. McKenna, Attorney General of Washington, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

17. The State of Idaho, by and through Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General of Idaho, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

18. The State of South Dakota, by and through Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General of South Dakota, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

19. The State of Indiana, by and through Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

20. The State of North Dakota, by and through Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General of North Dakota, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

21. The State of Mississippi, by and through Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

22. The State of Arizona, by and through Janice K. Brewer, Governor of Arizona, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

23. The State of Nevada, by and through Jim Gibbons, Governor of Nevada, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

24. The State of Georgia, by and through Sonny Perdue, Governor of Georgia, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

25. The State of Alaska, by and through Daniel S. Sullivan, Attorney General of Alaska, is a sovereign State in the United States of America.

26. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, is the nation’s leading association of small businesses, including individual members, and has a presence in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the rights of its members to own, operate, and earn success in their businesses, in accordance with lawfully-imposed governmental requirements. The NFIB Small Business Legal Center is a nonprofit, public interest law firm established to provide legal resources and be the voice for small businesses in the nation’s courts through representation on issues of public interest affecting small businesses. NFIB’s members include individuals who object to: forced compliance with the Act’s mandate that they obtain qualifying healthcare insurance or pay a penalty; diversion of resources from their businesses that will result from complying with the mandate; and the Act’s overreaching and unconstitutional encroachment on the States’ sovereignty. NFIB joins in those objections on behalf of its members. NFIB’s services to its members include providing information regarding legal and regulatory issues faced by small businesses, including individuals. NFIB will incur additional costs in assisting its members in understanding how the Act applies to them and affects their businesses.

27. Mary Brown is a citizen and resident of the State of Florida and a citizen of the United States. She is self-employed, operating Brown & Dockery, Inc., an automobile repair facility in Panama City, Florida, and is a member of NFIB. Ms. Brown has not had healthcare insurance for the last four years, and devotes her resources to maintaining her business and paying her employees. She does not qualify for Medicaid under the Act or Medicare and does not expect to qualify for them prior to the Act’s individual mandate taking effect. Ms. Brown will be subject to the mandate and objects to being forced to comply with it, and objects to the Act’s unconstitutional overreaching and its encroachment on the States’ sovereignty.

28. Kaj Ahlburg is a citizen and resident of the State of Washington and a citizen of the United States. Mr. Ahlburg has not had healthcare insurance for more than six years, does not have healthcare insurance now, and has no intention or desire to have healthcare insurance in the future. Mr. Ahlburg is and reasonably expects to remain financially able to pay for his own healthcare services if and as needed. He does not qualify for Medicaid under the Act or Medicare and does not expect to qualify for them prior to the Act’s individual mandate taking effect. Mr. Ahlburg will be subject to the mandate and objects to being forced to comply with it, and objects to the Act’s
unconstitutional overreaching and its encroachment on the States’ sovereignty. (Plaintiffs Brown and Ahlburg are referred to as the Individual Plaintiffs.)

29. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is an agency of the United States, and is responsible for administration and enforcement of the Act, through its center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

30. Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of HHS, and is named as a party in her official capacity.

31. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) is an agency of the United States, and is responsible for administration and enforcement of the Act.

32. Timothy F. Geithner is Secretary of the Treasury, and is named as a party in his official capacity.

33. The Department of Labor (DOL) is an agency of the United States, and is responsible for administration and enforcement of the Act.

34. Hilda L. Solis is Secretary of DOL, and is named as a party in her official capacity.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS
The Unprecedented and Unconstitutional Individual Mandate

35. The Act mandates that all persons who are citizens or legal residents of any State within the United States, including NFIB members and the Individual Plaintiffs, must have and maintain qualifying healthcare coverage, regardless of whether they wish to do so, to avoid having to pay a penalty. Many individuals, including NFIB members and the Individual Plaintiffs, will be forced to purchase the required coverage with their own assets, without contribution or subsidy from the federal government. If a person fails to maintain such coverage, the federal government will force that person to pay a penalty, the amount of which will be increased gradually through 2016, reaching 2.5 percent of household income or $695 per year (up to a maximum of three times that amount ($2,085)) per family, whichever is greater. After 2016, the penalty will increase annually based on a cost-of-living adjustment.

36. Exemptions to the penalty apply for individuals with certain religious objections, individuals who belong to certain faith-based healthcare cooperative organizations, American Indians, persons without coverage for less than three months, undocumented immigrants, incarcerated individuals, persons for whom the lowest cost plan option exceeds 8 percent of income, individuals with incomes below the tax filing threshold, and persons with financial hardships. Millions of individuals will be forced to choose between having qualified coverage and paying the penalty.

37. Congress never before has imposed a mandate that all citizens buy something—in this case health insurance—or pay a penalty. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “the imposition of an individual mandate [to buy health insurance] . . . would be unprecedented. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.” THE BUDGETARY TREATMENT OF AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO BUY HEALTH INSURANCE, CBO MEMORANDUM (August 1994), http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/48xx/doc4816/doc38.pdf (last visited May 11, 2010). The CBO added that an individual mandate could “transform the purchase of health insurance from an essentially voluntary private transaction into a compulsory activity mandated by law.” Id.

38. Congress lacks the constitutional authority to enact the individual mandate. The Constitution limits Congress’s authority to the specific powers enumerated in Article I, and thus does not grant unlimited authority to Congress. None of Congress’s enumerated powers includes the authority to force every American to buy a good or service on the private market or face a penalty. For the first time, Congress under the Act is attempting to regulate and penalize Americans for choosing not to engage in economic activity. If Congress can do this much, there will be virtually no sphere of private decision-making beyond the reach of federal power.

Medicaid Program Prior to the Act

39. Medicaid was established by Title XIX of the Social Security Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396 et seq., as the nation’s major healthcare program for low-income persons. The States and the federal government have funded each participating State’s Medicaid program jointly.

40. From the beginning of Medicaid until passage of the Act, the States were given considerable discretion to implement and operate their respective Medicaid programs in accordance with State-specific designs regarding eligibility, enrollment, and administration, so long as the programs met broad federal requirements.

41. At the outset of Medicaid, the States were free to opt in and establish their own State health or welfare plans or to provide no benefits at all. None of the Plaintiff States agreed to become a Medicaid partner of the federal government with an expectation that: a) the terms of its participation would be altered significantly; b) the federal government would increase significantly its own control and reduce significantly that State’s discretion over the Medicaid program; c) the federal government would alter the program’s requirements to expand eligibility for enrollment beyond the State’s ability to fund its participation; d) the federal government would alter the program from requiring that States pay for healthcare services to requiring that States provide such services; or e) the federal government would exercise its control over Medicaid terms and eligibility as part of a coercive scheme to force all citizens and residents of the States to have healthcare coverage.

The Act’s Injurious Impact on the Federal-State Healthcare Partnership

42. The Act greatly alters the federal-State relationship, to the detriment of the Plaintiff States, with respect to Medicaid programs, their insurance regulatory role, and healthcare coverage generally.

43. The Act transforms Medicaid from federal-State partnerships into a broad federally-controlled program that deprives the States of the ability to define healthcare program eligibility and attributes, and eliminates States’ historic flexibility to make cost-saving and other adjustments to their respective Medicaid programs. The Act also sets new increased Medicaid rates for primary-care practitioners’ reimbursements, which States must substantially fund, and changes the manner in which drug rebates are allocated between the federal government and States in a manner that financially benefits the federal government at the States’ expense.

44. The Act requires each State to expand massively its Medicaid program and to create a statewide exchange, which must be either a State governmental agency or a nonprofit entity established by the State for this purpose, through which the citizens and residents of that State can purchase healthcare insurance. If a State does not satisfy federal requirements to progress toward creation of an intrastate insurance exchange between now and the end of 2012, or chooses not to operate an exchange, the federal government (or its contractor) will establish and administer an intrastate exchange within that State. This action would displace State authority over a substantial segment of intrastate insurance regulation (e.g., licensing and regulation of intrastate insurers, plans, quality ratings, coordination with Medicaid and other State programs, and marketing) that the States have always possessed under the police powers provided in the Constitution, and subject the States to possible exchange-related penalties.

45. Participation in the Act will force the States to expand their Medicaid coverage to include all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government will fund much of the cost initially, but States’ coverage burdens will increase significantly after 2016, both in actual dollars and in proportion to the contributions of the federal government.

46. The Act further requires that States provide healthcare services to enrollees, a significant new obligation that goes far beyond the States’ pre-Act responsibility for funding healthcare services under their respective Medicaid programs. This obligation will expose the States to significant increased litigation risks and costs.

47. The federal government will not provide full funding or resources to the States to administer the Act. Each State must oversee the newly-created intrastate insurance market by instituting regulations, consumer protections, rate reviews, solvency and reserve fund requirements, and premium taxes. Each State also must enroll all of the newly-eligible Medicaid beneficiaries (many of whom will be subject to a penalty if they fail to enroll), coordinate enrollment with the new intrastate insurance exchange, and implement other specified changes. The Act further requires each State to establish a reinsurance program by 2014, to administer a premium review process, and to cover costs associated with State-mandated insurance benefit requirements that States previously could impose without assuming a cost.

48. In addition, the Act imposes new requirements on the Plaintiff States that interfere with their ability to perform governmental functions. Effective in 2014, the Plaintiff States, as large employers, must automatically enroll employees working 30 or more hours a week into health insurance plans, without regard for current State practice, policy preferences, or financial constraints. The Act’s individual mandate effectively will force many more State employees into State insurance plans than the Plaintiff States now allow, at a significant added cost to the States. Moreover, the States will be subject to substantial penalties and taxes prescribed by the Act, at a cost of thousands of dollars per employee, for State employees who obtain subsidized insurance from an exchange instead of from a State plan, or if the State plan offers coverage that is either too little or too generous as determined by the federal government. New tax reporting requirements prescribed by the Act also will burden the Plaintiff States’ ability to source goods and services as necessary to carry out governmental functions.

The Act’s Injurious Impact on Plaintiffs

49. The Act will have a profound and injurious impact on all Plaintiff States. Florida’s circumstances, as described below, are not identical to the circumstances in all of the Plaintiff States, but fairly represent the nature of the burdens the Act imposes on the Plaintiff States.

50. Based on United States Census Bureau statistics from 2008, Florida has 3,641,933 uninsured persons living in the State. Of those persons, 1,259,378 are below 133 percent of the federal poverty line; therefore, the Act requires that Florida add them to its Medicaid rolls.

51. Even before passage of the Act, the Medicaid program imposed a heavy cost on Florida, consuming 26 percent of its annual budget. For fiscal year 2009-2010 alone, Florida will spend more than $18 billion on Medicaid, servicing more than 2.7 million persons. Florida’s Medicaid contributions and burdens, from the implementation of its Medicaid program in 1970 to the present, have gradually increased to the point where it would be infeasible for Florida to cease its participation in Medicaid before the Act takes effect and make alternate arrangements for a traditional Medicaid-like program.

52. The federal government currently contributes 67.64 percent of every dollar Florida spends on Medicaid, a percentage that is temporarily inflated because of federal stimulus outlays. Under the current pre-Act program, after this year, the percentage of Florida’s Medicaid expenses covered by the federal government would decline, and by 2011 would reach 55.45 percent, a level that is closer to the recent average. The federal government’s contribution under the Act, though providing more aid for newly-eligible persons, will not fully compensate Florida for the dramatic increase to its Medicaid rolls, increased reimbursement rates for primary-care practitioners, and other substantial costs that it must bear under the Act.

53. Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) estimates that at least 80 percent of persons who have some form of health insurance but fall below 133 percent of the federal poverty level will drop their current plans and enroll in Medicaid, because they are newly eligible under the Act. The Act does not provide full funding for the States’ cost of covering these already-covered persons. These persons represent a significant additional cost to Florida under the Act.

54. The Act also makes a large new class of persons eligible for Medicaid in Florida. Prior to passage of the Act, only certain specified low-income individuals and families qualified for Medicaid. Moreover, the qualifying income level set by Florida was generally much lower than the level of 133 percent of the federal poverty line set by the federal government under the Act. Now, Florida also must add to its Medicaid rolls every childless adult whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, consistent with the Act’s fundamental change in Medicaid from a federal-State partnership to provide a safety net for the needy into a federally-imposed regime for universal healthcare coverage.

55. Prior to passage of the Act, AHCA was Florida’s designated State Medicaid agency tasked with developing and carrying out policies related to the Medicaid program. The Act will strip away much of the State’s authority to establish and execute policies, transferring that authority to the federal government. Indeed, the Act renders AHCA and other Florida agencies mere arms of the federal government and commandeers and forces AHCA employees to administer what now is essentially a federal universal healthcare program.

56. AHCA projects a cost to Florida in the billions of dollars between now and 2019, stemming from Medicaid-related portions of the Act. The annual cost will continue to grow in succeeding years. AHCA’s projections, moreover, understate the Act’s adverse impact on Florida. They do not include estimated costs to be borne by Florida to administer the Act or to prepare for the Act’s implementation. Such costs will include hiring and training new staff, creating new information technology infrastructures, developing an adequate provider base, creating a scheme for accountability and quality assurance, and incurring many other expenses.

57. The Act requires that Florida immediately begin to devote funds and other resources to implement sweeping changes across multiple agencies of government. Such implementation burdens include, but are not limited to: a) enforcing the Act’s immediately-effective terms; b) determining gaps between current resources in State government and the Act’s requirements; c) evaluating infrastructure to consider how new programs and substantial expansion of existing programs will be implemented (e.g., new agencies, offices, etc.); d) developing a strategic plan and coordinating common issues across State agencies; e) initiating legislative and regulatory processes, while at the same time monitoring and engaging the substantial federal regulatory processes to ensure that State interests are protected; f) electing whether to participate in optional programs set forth in the Act; g) satisfying the Act’s interim targets; and h) developing a communications structure and plan to disseminate new information regarding changes brought about by the Act to the many affected persons and entities.

58. The Act further requires Florida to enroll in healthcare insurance plans categories of State employees not previously covered by State-funded healthcare insurance plans. The Act subjects the State to penalties, depending upon the coverage decisions made by its employees, and limits the State’s ability to determine coverage. If the State’s plan for its employees is deemed inadequate by the federal government, the State will be subject to penalties. If the State’s plan is deemed too generous or expansive by the federal government, the State will be subject to a distinct federal tax liability.

59. The Act also requires that Florida be responsible for providing healthcare services for all Medicaid enrollees in the expanded program, a significant change from Florida’s responsibility for providing payment for such services. This added responsibility and resulting new legal liabilities further contribute to the Act’s substantial and costly impact on Florida’s fisc, and will force the State to ignore other critical needs, including education, corrections, law enforcement, and more.

60. In sum, as demonstrated through the effects on Florida, the Act infringes on the Plaintiff States’ constitutional status as sovereigns, entitled to cooperate with but not to be controlled by the federal government under the Medicaid program.

61. In addition, the Act will have a profound and injurious impact on the Plaintiff States’ citizens and residents, a significant number of whom are or will be subject to the Act’s mandate to obtain qualifying healthcare coverage or pay a penalty.

62. The Act further will have a profound and injurious impact on NFIB’s individual members and its uninsured small business owners, including Ms. Brown, who are and will continue to be subject to the Act’s mandate to obtain qualifying healthcare coverage or pay a penalty. Because of the mandate, these members will be forced to divert resources from their business endeavors, or otherwise to reorder their economic circumstances, in order to obtain qualifying healthcare coverage, regardless of their own conclusions on whether or not obtaining and maintaining such coverage for themselves and their dependents is a worthwhile cost of doing business. The added costs of the mandate will threaten the members’ ability to maintain their own, independent businesses.

63. An important service offered by NFIB to its membership is the provision of information and assistance regarding legal and regulatory compliance issues faced by small businesses, as well as questions involving healthcare insurance and benefits. In order fully to serve the needs and interests of its membership, NFIB now will be forced to devote its own scarce resources to assisting members in understanding how the Act, including the mandate to obtain qualifying coverage or pay a penalty, applies to them, how it will affect their businesses, and what they must do to comply.

64. The Act also will injure Mr. Ahlburg, who will be subject to the Act’s mandate to obtain qualifying healthcare coverage or pay a penalty.

The Act’s Requirements and Effects on the Plaintiff States Cannot Be Avoided

65. Plaintiff States cannot avoid the Act’s requirements. Neither the Act nor current federal Medicaid provisions prescribe a mechanism for a State to opt out of the Act’s new Medicaid requirements, to opt out of Medicaid generally, or to transition to another program that provides only traditional Medicaid services.

66. Moreover, if they were to end their longstanding participation in Medicaid, Plaintiff States would desert millions of their residents, leaving them without access to the healthcare services they have depended on for decades under Medicaid. Thus, Plaintiff States are forced to accept the harmful effects of the Act on their fiscs and their sovereignty.

67. Prior to passage of the Act, Medicaid and its corresponding law, regulations, guidance, policies, and framework had been well-established, subject to occasional limited modifications, for more than four decades. During that time, participating States developed their respective Medicaid programs in reliance on Medicaid continuing to be a partnership with the federal government.

68. Presently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the federal agency with chief responsibility for administering Medicaid for the federal government, will terminate a State’s federal funding for Medicaid unless the State complies with the Act’s requirements. In addition, Medicaid requirements are linked to other federal programs, and the benefits of those programs to a State and its citizens and residents would be in jeopardy if the federal government were to terminate the State’s participation in Medicaid.

CAUSES OF ACTION COUNT ONE UNCONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE THAT ALL INDIVIDUALS HAVE HEALTHCARE INSURANCE COVERAGE OR PAY A PENALTY
(Const. art. I & amend. IX, X)

69. Plaintiffs reallege, adopt, and incorporate by reference paragraphs 1 through 68 above as though fully set forth herein.

70. The Act forces all Americans, including NFIB members and the Individual Plaintiffs, regardless of whether they want healthcare coverage, to obtain and maintain a federally-approved level of coverage or pay a penalty. The Act thus compels all Americans to perform an affirmative act or incur a penalty, simply on the basis that they exist and reside within any of the United States. In so doing, the Act purports to exercise the very type of general police power the Constitution reserves to the States and denies to the federal government.

71. The Act is directed to a lack of, or failure to engage in, activity that is driven by the choices of individual Americans. Such inactivity by its nature cannot be deemed to be in commerce or to have such an effect on commerce, whether interstate or otherwise, as to be subject to Congress’s powers under the Commerce Clause, Const. art. I, § 8. Nor does the Act regulate (directly or indirectly) any properly regulable interstate or foreign market or other commerce, any instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce, or the actual flow of goods, services, and human beings among the States. As a result, the Act cannot be upheld under the Commerce Clause.

72. The Act infringes upon Plaintiff States’ sovereign interests by coercing many persons to enroll in an expanded Medicaid program at a substantial cost to Plaintiff States, or to obtain coverage from intrastate exchanges that States must establish to avoid loss of substantial regulatory authority. The Act also denies Plaintiff States their sovereign ability to confer rights upon their citizens and residents to make healthcare decisions without government interference, including the decision not to participate in any healthcare insurance program or scheme, in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution and the constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty on which this Nation was founded.

73. The Act’s penalty on uninsured persons unlawfully coerces persons to obtain healthcare coverage without purposing to raise revenue and injures the Plaintiff States’ fiscs, because many persons will be compelled to enroll in Medicaid at a substantial cost to Plaintiff States or to get coverage from intrastate exchanges that Plaintiff States must establish to avoid loss of substantial regulatory authority. As a result, the Act cannot be upheld under the Taxing and Spending Clause, Const. art. I, § 8.

74. By requiring and coercing citizens and residents of the Plaintiff States to have healthcare coverage, the Act exceeds Congress’s limited powers enumerated in Article I of the Constitution, and cannot be upheld under any other provision of the Constitution.

75. By requiring and coercing citizens and residents of the Plaintiff States to have healthcare coverage, the Act deprives those citizens and residents, and NFIB members and the Individual Plaintiffs, of their rights under State law to make personal healthcare decisions without governmental interference, and violates the rights of the States as sovereigns to confer and define such rights in their constitutions or by statute, in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution and the constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty on which this Nation was founded.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court:
A. Declare the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, to be unconstitutional;
B. Declare that the individual mandate exceeds Congress’s authority under Article I of the Constitution and violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments;
C. Enjoin Defendants and any other agency or employee acting on behalf of the United States from enforcing the Act against the Plaintiff States, including their agencies, officials, and employees; the citizens and residents of the Plaintiff States; NFIB members and small business owners; and the Individual Plaintiffs, and to take such actions as are necessary and proper to remedy their violations deriving from any such actual or attempted enforcement; and
D. Award Plaintiffs their costs and grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

COUNT TWO UNCONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE THAT ALL INDIVIDUALS HAVE HEALTHCARE INSURANCE COVERAGE OR PAY A PENALTY
(Const. amend. V)

76. Plaintiffs reallege, adopt, and incorporate by reference paragraphs 1 through 68 above as though fully set forth herein.

77. The Act forces citizens and residents of the Plaintiff States, including NFIB members and the Individual Plaintiffs, to obtain and maintain a federally-approved level of health coverage for themselves and their dependents, regardless of whether they want or need that coverage, or pay a penalty.

78. By requiring and coercing NFIB’s members and the Individual Plaintiffs to obtain and maintain such healthcare coverage, the Act deprives them of their right to be free of unwarranted and unlawful federal government compulsion in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court:
A. Declare the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, to be unconstitutional;
B. Declare Defendants to have violated the rights of NFIB members and small business owners and the Individual Plaintiffs under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment;
C. Enjoin Defendants and any other agency or employee acting on behalf of the United States from enforcing the Act against NFIB members and small business owners and the Individual Plaintiffs, and to take such actions as are necessary and proper to remedy their violations deriving from any such actual or attempted enforcement; and
D. Award NFIB and the Individual Plaintiffs their costs and grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

COUNT THREE VIOLATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL PROHIBITION OF
UNAPPORTIONED CAPITATION OR DIRECT TAX
(Const. art. I, §§ 2, 9 & amends. IX, X)

79. Plaintiffs reallege, adopt, and incorporate by reference paragraphs 1 through 68 above as though fully set forth herein.

80. Alternatively, the penalty on uninsured persons under the Act constitutes a capitation and a direct tax that is not apportioned among the States according to census data, thereby injuring the sovereign interests of Plaintiff States and the interests of all citizens and residents of the Plaintiff States and of the United States.

81. The tax applies without regard to property, profession, or any other circumstance, and is unrelated to any taxable event or activity. It is to be levied upon persons for their failure or refusal to do anything other than to exist and reside in any of the States comprising the United States.

82. The tax violates article I, sections 2 and 9 of, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to, the Constitution. The Act’s imposition of the tax, and the resulting coercion of many persons either to enroll in an expanded Medicaid program at a substantial cost to the Plaintiff States or to get coverage from intrastate exchanges that States must establish to avoid loss of substantial regulatory authority, injures Plaintiff States’ sovereign interests and violates the States’ constitutional protection against unapportioned capitation taxes or direct taxation. The tax also infringes on the right of NFIB members and the Individual Plaintiffs to be free from unconstitutional taxation. The tax is unconstitutional on its face and cannot be applied constitutionally.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court:
A. Declare the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, to be unconstitutional;
B. Declare Defendants to have violated the Plaintiff States’ constitutional protection against unapportioned capitation taxes or direct taxation, and to have violated the rights of all citizens and residents of the Plaintiff States and of the United States, including NFIB members and small business owners and the Individual Plaintiffs, to be free from unconstitutional taxation;
C. Enjoin Defendants and any other agency or employee acting on behalf of the United States from enforcing the Act against the Plaintiff States, including their agencies, officials, and employees; the citizens and residents of the Plaintiff States; NFIB members and small business owners; and the Individual Plaintiffs, and to take such actions as are necessary and proper to remedy their violations deriving from any such actual or attempted enforcement; and
D. Award Plaintiffs their costs and grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

COUNT FOUR COERCION AND COMMANDEERING AS TO MEDICAID
(Const. art. I & amends. IX, X)

83. Plaintiffs reallege, adopt, and incorporate by reference paragraphs 1 through 68 above as though fully set forth herein.

84. Plaintiff States cannot afford the unfunded costs of participating under the Act, but effectively have no choice other than to participate.

85. The Act exceeds Congress’s powers under Article I of the Constitution, and cannot be upheld under the Commerce Clause, Const. art. I, §8; the Taxing and Spending Clause, id.; or any other provision of the Constitution.

86. By using Medicaid to reach universal healthcare coverage goals and forcing fundamental changes in the nature and scope of the Medicaid program upon the Plaintiff States, by denying Plaintiff States any choice with respect to new Medicaid requirements and denying them flexibility to limit the fiscal impact of those changes, by effectively co-opting Plaintiff States’ control over their budgetary processes and legislative agendas through compelling them to assume costs they cannot afford, by forcing Plaintiff States to become responsible for providing healthcare services for all Medicaid enrollees, by requiring Plaintiff States to carry out insurance mandates and establish intrastate insurance programs and regulations for federal purposes, by interfering in the Plaintiff States’ relationships with their employees with respect to healthcare coverage, by commandeering the Plaintiff States and their employees as agents of the federal government’s regulatory scheme at the States’ own cost, and by interfering in the Plaintiff States’ sovereignty, the Act violates Article IV, section 4 of the Constitution, depriving Plaintiff States of their sovereignty and their right to a republican form of government; violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments; and violates the constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty on which this Nation was founded.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff States respectfully request that the Court:
A. Declare the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, to be unconstitutional;
B. Declare that the Act exceeds Congress’ powers under Article I of the Constitution and interferes in the Plaintiff States’ sovereignty in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty;
C. Enjoin Defendants and any other agency or employee acting on behalf of the United States from enforcing the Act against the Plaintiff States, their citizens and residents, and any of their agencies or officials or employees, and to take such actions as are necessary and proper to remedy their violations deriving from any such actual or attempted enforcement; and
D. Award Plaintiff States their costs and grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

COUNT FIVE COERCION AND COMMANDEERING AS TO HEALTHCARE INSURANCE
(Const. art. I & amends. IX, X)

87. Plaintiffs reallege, adopt, and incorporate by reference paragraphs 1 through 68 above as though fully set forth herein.

88. By requiring the Plaintiff States to carry out insurance mandates and establish intrastate insurance programs for federal purposes under threat of removing or significantly curtailing their long-held regulatory authority as to intrastate insurance, and by commandeering the Plaintiff States and their employees as agents of the federal government’s regulatory scheme at the States’ own cost, the Act exceeds Congress’s powers under Article I of the Constitution, and interferes in the Plaintiff States’ sovereignty in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty on which this Nation was founded.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff States respectfully request that the Court:
A. Declare the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, to be unconstitutional;
B. Declare that the Act exceeds Congress’ powers under Article I of the Constitution and interferes in the Plaintiff States’ sovereignty in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty;
C. Enjoin Defendants and any other agency or employee acting on behalf of the United States from enforcing the Act against the Plaintiff States, their citizens and residents, and any of their agencies or officials or employees, and to take such actions as are necessary and proper to remedy their violations deriving from any such actual or attempted enforcement; and
D. Award Plaintiff States their costs and grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

COUNT SIX INTERFERENCE WITH THE STATES’ SOVEREIGNTY AS EMPLOYERS AND PERFORMANCE OF GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTIONS
(Const. art. I & amends. IX, X)

89. Plaintiffs reallege, adopt, and incorporate by reference paragraphs 1 through 68 above as though fully set forth herein.

90. By imposing new employer healthcare insurance mandates on the Plaintiff States, by requiring that they automatically enroll and continue enrollment of employees in healthcare plans, by subjecting States to penalties and taxes depending upon plan attributes and individual employee coverage decisions, and by burdening the States’ ability to procure goods and services and to carry out governmental functions, the Act exceeds Congress’s powers under Article I of the Constitution, and interferes in the Plaintiff States’ sovereignty in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty on which this Nation was founded.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff States respectfully request that the Court:
A. Declare the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, to be unconstitutional;
B. Declare that the Act exceeds Congress’s powers under Article I of the Constitution, and interferes in the Plaintiff States’ sovereignty in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty;
C. Enjoin Defendants and any other agency or employee acting on behalf of the United States from enforcing the Act against the Plaintiff States, their citizens and residents, and any of their agencies or officials or employees, and to take such actions as are necessary and proper to remedy their violations deriving from any such actual or attempted enforcement; and
D. Award Plaintiff States their costs and grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Respectfully submitted,
BILL MCCOLLUM
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF FLORIDA
HENRY McMASTER
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF SOUTH
CAROLINA;
JON BRUNING
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
NEBRASKA;
GREG ABBOTT
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS;
MARK L. SHURTLEFF
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF UTAH;
JAMES D. “BUDDY” CALDWELL
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
LOUISIANA;
TROY KING
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ALABAMA;
MICHAEL A. COX
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
MICHIGAN;
JOHN W. SUTHERS
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
COLORADO;
THOMAS W. CORBETT, Jr.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
PENNSYLVANIA;
ROBERT M. McKENNA
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
WASHINGTON;
LAWRENCE G. WASDEN
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF IDAHO
MARTY J. JACKLEY
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF SOUTH
DAKOTA
GREGORY F. ZOELLER
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
WAYNE STENEHJEM
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NORTH
DAKOTA
HALEY BARBOUR
GOVERNOR OF MISSISSIPPI
JANICE K. BREWER
GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA
JIM GIBBONS
GOVERNOR OF NEVADA
SONNY PERDUE
GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA
DANIEL S. SULLIVAN
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ALASKA
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
INDEPENDENT BUSINESS
MARY BROWN
KAJ AHLBURG
/s/ Blaine H. Winship
Blaine H. Winship (Fla. Bar No. 0356913)
Assistant Attorney General
Joseph W. Jacquot (Fla. Bar No. 189715)
Deputy Attorney General
Scott D. Makar (Fla. Bar No. 709697)
Solicitor General
Louis F. Hubener (Fla. Bar No. 0140084)
Timothy D. Osterhaus (Fla. Bar No.
0133728)
Charles B. Upton II (Fla. Bar No. 0037241)
Deputy Solicitors General
Office of the Attorney General of Florida
The Capitol, Suite PL-01
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050
Telephone: (850) 414-3300
Facsimile: (850) 488-4872
Email: blaine.winship@myfloridalegal.com
Attorneys for Plaintiff States
David B. Rivkin (D.C. Bar No. 394446)
Lee A. Casey (D.C. Bar No. 447443)
Baker & Hostetler LLP
1050 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 861-1731
Facsimile: (202) 861-1783
Attorneys for Plaintiff States, National
Federation of Independent Business, Mary
Brown, and Kaj Ahlburg
Katherine J. Spohn
Special Counsel to the Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General of Nebraska
2115 State Capitol Building
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Telephone: (402) 471-2834
Facsimile: (402) 471-1929
Email: katie.spohn@nebraska.gov
Attorneys for Plaintiff the State of Nebraska
Karen R. Harned William J. Cobb III
Executive Director Special Assistant and Senior Counsel
National Federation of Independent to the Attorney General
Business Office of the Attorney General of Texas
Small Business Legal Center P.O. Box 12548, Capitol Station
1201 F Street, N.W., Suite 200 Austin, Texas 78711-2548
Washington, DC 20004 Telephone: (512) 475-0131
Telephone: (202) 314-2061 Facsimile: (512) 936-0545
Facsimile: (202) 554-5572 Email: bill.cobb@oag.state.tx.us
Of counsel for Plaintiff National Attorneys for Plaintiff the State of Texas
Federation of Independent Business
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that, on this 14th day of May, 2010, a copy of the foregoing Amended Complaint was served on counsel of record for all Defendants through the Court’s Notice of Electronic Filing system.
/s/ Blaine H. Winship
Blaine H. Winship
Assistant Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General of Florida

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Obamatax

President Obama pledged during his 2008 campaign that middle-class families would not see a tax increase of any kind.

Democrats want Americans to believe that by letting tax rates rise they have discovered religion as deficit cutters. But after a two-year assault on the federal trough in which Congress passed the notoriously wasteful stimulus and added a new health care entitlement, few Americans are even bothering to listen. In reality, the harm this tax increase will inflict on jobs and gross domestic product will strongly outweigh any presumed boost in tax revenues.

American businesses are sitting on top of a record $2 trillion in cash — money that could be spent hiring more workers, funding new projects or paying out dividends to investors. But right now these dollars remain stuck on the sidelines.

Already grappling with weak demand for goods and services, businesses of all sizes have five main costs and expenses that impact their bottom lines. Thanks to the agenda in Washington, all are going up, turning the White House’s much-touted “Recovery Summer” into the “Summer of Uncertainty.” Here’s a look:

•Taxes will jump next year on everything from ordinary income, capital gains, dividends and estates. And with our national debt soaring, the prospect of even more tax increases in the future seems more likely.

•Health-care costs are growing as a result of Obamacare’s mandates and inflationary impact on premiums.

•Energy costs remain in limbo as leading Democrats, led by Sen. John Kerry, float the idea of passing cap-and-trade during the lame-duck session of Congress.

•Credit is becoming more expensive and is increasingly out of reach for most small businesses, partly because the 2,300-plus page financial regulatory bill encourages banks to horde their capital rather than lend it.

•Labor costs also threaten to climb higher as labor unions dig in their heels and gear up for another push to pass card check.

Critics repeatedly have accused Obama of violating that pledge and with the Bush tax cuts set to expire unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, a look back at the administration’s statements shows a gradual softening in their tax rhetoric. The president in February went so far as to say he’s “agnostic” on the issue in the context of closing the deficit. The White House, though, is still pressing for a continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class.

In just 120 days, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2011:
First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief
In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families. These will all expire on January 1, 2011:
Personal income tax rates will rise. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:
– The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
– The 25% bracket rises to 28%
– The 28% bracket rises to 31%
– The 33% bracket rises to 36%
– The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%
Higher taxes on marriage and family. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care tax credit will be cut.
The return of the Death Tax. This year, there is no death tax. For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million. A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.
Higher tax rates on savers and investors. The top capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011. The top dividends tax rate will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011. These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.

Second Wave: Obamacare
There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare. Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011. They include:
The Tanning Tax. This went into effect on July 1st of this year. It imposes a new, 10% excise tax on getting a tan at a tanning salon. There is no exemption for tanners making less than $250,000 per year.
The “Medicine Cabinet Tax” Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike. This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.
Brand Name Drug Tax. Starting next year, there will be a multi-billion dollar tax assessment imposed on name-brand drug manufacturers. This tax, like all excise taxes, will raise the price of medicine, hurting everyone.
Economic Substance Doctrine. The IRS is now empowered to disallow perfectly-legal tax deductions and maneuvers merely because it judges that the deduction or action lacks “economic substance.” This is obviously an arbitrary empowerment of IRS agents.
Employer Reporting of Health Insurance Costs on a W-2. This will start for W-2s in the 2011 tax year. While not a tax increase in itself, it makes it very easy for Congress to tax employer-provided healthcare benefits later.

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes
When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired The major items include:
The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million. These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level. The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.
Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear. Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or “depreciate”) equipment purchases up to $250,000. This will be cut all the way down to $25,000. Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment. In January of 2011, all of it will have to be “depreciated.”
Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses. There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place. The biggest is the loss of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” but there are many, many others. Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.
Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced. The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available. Tax credits for education will be limited. Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses. Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut. Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed. The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.
Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed. Until this year, a retired person with an IRA could contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA. This contribution also counts toward an annual “required minimum distribution.” This ability will no longer be there.

The following is a review of the evolution of the administration’s tax platform:

Sept. 12, 2008: Speaking before a New Hampshire crowd, Obama promised to shield middle-class families from a tax increase.

“And I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase,” he said. “Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

June 28, 2009: In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod was asked whether Obama would veto any health care bill with a tax increase for those making less than $250,000 a year. Axelrod said Obama’s plan would keep with his tax promise but he would not directly answer the question, which concerned a Senate proposal to cap deductions.

“One of the problems we’ve had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don’t get anything done,” he said “(Obama) is very cognizant of protecting people — middle-class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy. And he will continue to represent them in these talks. But they’re also dealing with punishing health care costs, and that’s something that we have to deal with.”

June 29, 2009: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to clarify Axelrod’s comments when asked repeatedly about them at the press briefing.

“The good news is we’re making significant progress, and all those people are still sitting at the table. We haven’t drawn a lot of bright lines,” Gibbs said. “We’re going to allow that process to continue … in order to make progress.”

Aug. 2, 2009: In an interview on “This Week,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was asked about Obama’s tax pledge and whether he’d be able to keep it in light of the need to reduce the deficit.

“We can’t make these judgments yet about what exactly it’s going to take and we’re going to get there,” Geithner said. “I think what the country needs to do is understand we’re going to have to do what it takes, we’re going to do what’s necessary.”

Aug. 2, 2009: In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” White House economic adviser Larry Summers also left the door open on the tax question.

“There is a lot that can happen over time,” Summers said.”It is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out, no matter what.”

Aug. 3, 2009: In damage control mode, Gibbs restated and stood by Obama’s tax pledge when asked about Summers’ and Geithner’s comments.

“The president’s clear commitment is not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year,” Gibbs said. “I am reiterating the president’s clear commitment in the clearest terms possible, that he’s not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year.”

Sept. 20, 2009: Obama got in a spat with host George Stephanopoulos during an interview on “This Week” Stephanopoulos suggested that the proposed fines against those who don’t purchase health insurance as required by the new health care package amount to a tax on the middle class. Obama disputed that point.

“It’s still a tax increase,” Stephanopoulos said.

“No. That’s not true,” said Obama. “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. … You can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.”

Stephanopoulos then read aloud the dictionary definition of “tax” to the president of the United States.

Obama responded: “George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now.”

“But you reject that it’s a tax increase?” the host asked.

“I absolutely reject that notion,” Obama said.

Nov. 1, 2009: In another “This Week” interview, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was asked whether Obama would veto any health care package that violates the tax pledge, in reference to one proposal that would tax high-value insurance plans.

“Let’s hold off prejudging what it’s going to do. But the president has been clear, he does not want to impose a tax on the middle class,” she said.

Pressed again, Jarrett said: “What I’m saying is that he is confident that a bill that’s going to be passed is going to be consistent with his parameters.”

Feb. 9, 2010: Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek that he could be “agnostic” on raising middle-class taxes. He was referring to a newly formed commission tasked with examining ways to bring down the deficit.

“The whole point of it is to make sure that all ideas are on the table,” Obama said. “So what I want to do is to be completely agnostic, in terms of solutions.”

He added: “What I can’t do is to set the thing up where a whole bunch of things are off the table. … Some would say we can’t look at entitlements. There are going to be some that say we can’t look at taxes, and pretty soon, you just can’t solve the problem.”

July 27, 2010: Gibbs said at his daily press briefing that the issue of the Bush tax cuts came up during a meeting with congressional leaders. He repeated Obama’s pledge.

“The president said that, as he had committed to in the campaign, he would not allow the tax cuts for the middle class to expire,” Gibbs said. He explained that Obama is not arguing for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy but wants the middle-class cuts to be “preserved.”

“I believe the president believes that raising taxes on the middle class during this economic time would not make a lot of economic sense,” he said. “And I think if you go back to the campaign, the president made that pledge not simply to make that pledge, but to make that pledge because for years and years and years we’d watched jobs being shed, wages either flat or declining, and that now is neither the time nor the place to raise taxes on them.”

Sept. 8, 2010: As the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts heated up, Obama used an economic speech in Ohio to accuse Republicans of holding the middle class “hostage” by demanding an extension of all the Bush tax cuts.

“Now, I believe we ought to make the tax cuts for the middle class permanent,” Obama said. “But the Republican leader of the House doesn’t want to stop there. Make no mistake — He and his party believe we should also give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. … We should not hold middle-class tax cuts hostage any longer. We are ready, this week, if they want, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less.”

Sept. 9, 2010: Obama was asked during an ABC News interview whether he would support a two-year extension of all the Bush tax cuts — representing a compromise with Republicans. Without answering directly, the president suggested that would not be a “smart thing” for the economy. Asked again, Obama said the reason the tax cut package hasn’t passed is because “we haven’t seen compromise from the other side.”

The president then repeatedly declined to answer the question of whether he would veto such a short-term extension of all tax cuts.

Sept. 30, 2010: Congress adjourned without a vote on the Bush tax cuts. The same day, Gibbs said at his daily press briefing that, even though dozens of House Democrats pushed for an across-the-board extension, the reason the House never took up a tax cut bill was “because the Republicans said they weren’t going to do it.”

The Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis has estimated the impacts of the Obama tax hikes and found they would: 1) decrease inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.1 trillion by 2020; 2) decrease business investment by $33 billion a year; 3) decrease personal savings by $38 billion in 2011 alone; 4) decrease consumer spending by $706 billion through 2020; and 5) kill an average of 693,000 jobs a year through 2020.

The CDA has even broken down these impacts by state and congressional district. You can find the state-by-state and district-by-district results here (in the right hand column). West Virginians will see their individual income taxes rise by $1.6 billion. Nevadans will lose $2,697 per household in disposable income. And Wisconsin will lose 14,083 jobs annually. The stakes are high. Click through and find out How the Obama Tax Hikes Affect You.

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