The political spin behind the health care lawsuit
***PROGRAMING NOTE: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be my live guest Tuesday on NBC12 First at 4. First at 4 can be seen on NBC12- TV and streamed live at nbc12.com.
It was a big win for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The Republican learned Monday that Federal Judge Henry Hudson ruled in favor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, by rejecting a motion to dismiss the controversial challenge to the Health Care Reform Act.
The general details of today’s ruling can be found in my story on NBC12.com.
But while both sides involved the legal effort made their statements expressly based in the law, make no mistake this is a fierce political battle. A battle that both sides are waging in an almost underground fashion.
Here are two examples.
Is it a tax or not?
For Republicans this is a story they have been subtly pushing for several weeks. A key tenant to the Justice Department’s argument is that the commerce clause allows the Federal Government to collect a “tax”. Therefore the feds are well within their purview to render a “penalty” to those who don’t buy health insurance.
Mandating the purchase of health insurance is the very argument Ken Cuccinelli is fighting against. He calls a dramatic overreach of government power. The Justice Department lawyers say not so fast. The Federal Government has long had the right to collect funds from its citizens. Whether it is a “tax” or a “penalty” is immaterial. The Justice Department lawyer arguing the case called it “two sides of the same coin”.
But Republicans have been reminding reporters that in their sales pitch to the American public, Democrats stated emphatically that the penalty was a penalty it had nothing to do with raising taxes. They often point to President Obama’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. In the interview Mister Obama said the following:
“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.”
Monday during his press event, Cuccinelli reminded reporters once again of that change in the administration’s tune:
So is it a tax or not?
Cuccinelli and Hudson:
While Republicans spin the tax yarn, Democrats are connecting an intricate set of dots to tie Ken Cuccinelli to the presiding Judge in the case Henry Hudson.
As reported in the Huffington Post, right around the same time the decision came down, Hudson has an investment in a Republican consulting firm that has Cuccinelli as a client. Hudson’s minor investment has turned into a significant return and Democrats pushed that connection back to the Attorney General. According to financial disclosure statements, Hudson has stock worth between $15,000 and $50,000 from Campaign Solutions Inc. It’s founder has ties to major GOP dealmakers. Cuccinelli has spent around $9,000 with Campaign Solutions.
For his part, Cuccinelli said he was unaware of the tie and in his mind, it or Hudson’s Republican background have nothing to do with the way he decides cases.
So is there a tie? Will it have anything to do with the credibility of the case moving forward?
Both sides are spinning. Which one will you buy? And more importantly, will it have any impact on the outcome of the case?