Attorneys general for 13 states have written a letter warning congressional leaders they must remove Nebraska’s “special dispensation” from new taxes under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care bill or face legal action, according to a copy provided to The Associated Press last week.
“We believe this provision is constitutionally flawed,” South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and the 12 other attorneys general wrote in the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Reid.
“As chief legal officers of our states we are contemplating a legal challenge to this provision and we ask you to take action to render this challenge unnecessary by striking that provision,” they wrote.
In a rare Christmas Eve vote, Senate Democrats pushed the crushing new regulations to the brink of Senate passage. The 60-39 vote marked the third time in as many days Democrats posted the supermajority needed to advance the legislation. The capitulation of Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson — who had previously claimed to be opposed based on the measure’s plan to use tax dollars to fund abortions — gave the majority its crucial 60th vote.
To win Sen. Nelson’s vote, Sen. Reid agreed to have the federal government forever pay full freight for Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion, mandated by the bill. Every other state gets only three years of full federal coverage under the plan. After that, every state but Nebraska will be required take on huge, new, unfunded Medicaid burdens. Nevada’s alone will be at least $600 million per year.
A conference committee will begin meeting in the new year to work out a compromise between House and Senate versions of the bill. Mr. McMaster says if the bill goes through with the benefit for Nebraska, taxpayers in the other 49 states will have to cover their own unfunded mandates in addition to Nebraska’s share.
The 13 attorneys general signing the letter are all Republicans. But the danger of such a precedent, once set, is surely not limited to states adhering to one party. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto should join the action on Nevadans’ behalf.
Some will hold that unlikely, since it might be seen as a challenge to Sen. Reid, the presumed godfather of Nevada Democrats.
The question is, does Ms. Masto represent the Nevadans who will have to pay “more than their share” under Sen. Reid’s Nebraska payoff scheme … or someone else?