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US: Administration asks judge to toss House health care suit

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Administration asks judge to toss House health care suit
By ERICA WERNER

WASHINGTON (AP) — A skeptical federal judge grilled Obama administration lawyers Thursday over the House GOP's health care lawsuit, sounding unlikely to side with the president and dismiss the case.

"You don't really think that, do you?" U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer asked Justice Department attorney Joel McElvain in the opening moments of his argument, as he tried to assert that the House hadn't suffered a particular injury from Obama's health care law and therefore lacks a basis for suing.

"I have a very hard time taking that statement seriously," Collyer said. At other points she chided McElvain for his responses, saying "You are dodging my question" and "You may disagree with me but I happen to be the judge."

At issue in the case is some $175 billion the administration is paying health insurance companies over a decade to reimburse them for offering lowered rates for poor people. The House argues that Congress never specifically appropriated that money, and indeed denied an administration request for it, but that the administration is paying it anyway.

The House says this amounts to unconstitutionally co-opting Congress' power of the purse. The administration insists it is relying on an existing pot of money that it is allowed to use.

Thursday's hearing focused on whether the House has legal standing to bring the suit at all. The administration says it doesn't, arguing the House has not been injured and is just advancing abstract complaints about the implementation of the law. The administration argues the House has many other remedies available, such as passing a new law.

"The House cannot sue the executive branch over the implementation of existing federal law," McElvain insisted, adding later, "Nothing limits the right to come back and enact new legislation."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, arguing for the House, vehemently disagreed.

"We believe we have established what can only be viewed as a concrete injury," Turley said, at one point brandishing a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. "I find it astonishing that this can be viewed as an abstraction."

Frustrated House Republicans authorized the lawsuit over Democratic objections last summer, in the run-up to the congressional midterm elections. They had already voted dozens of times to repeal all or parts of the law known as Obamacare, but as long as President Barack Obama is in the White House they have no legislative solution.

Thursday's hearing, the first in the case, comes as the Obama administration and lawmakers of both parties anxiously await a Supreme Court ruling on a different lawsuit that challenges other portions of the health law and threatens insurance subsidies for millions of Americans.

It's not clear whether the House suit will make it that far. Previous attempts by members of Congress to sue past administrations have been tossed out, although the House health lawsuit is the first by the full House against a sitting president.

Turley took the case after two previous attorneys retained by the House GOP ended up bowing out. As of March 31 he had been paid $92,875 in taxpayer money for his work.

Collyer, a 2003 appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, gave the House side reason to be hopeful with her aggressive sparring with the Justice Department's McElvain. She will rule at a later date, telling both parties as the hearing ended: "I have lots of ideas. I just haven't decided yet."

In addition to the issue over appropriations, the House lawsuit accused the administration of acting unconstitutionally in delaying deadlines in the law for employers to offer coverage. That appears to be a weaker claim and was not discussed in court Thursday.

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-- (c) Associated Press 2015-05-29

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Strange. Weird argument the administrations' lawyer is using. Pretty easy just to look at the constitution to see who holds the purse strings.

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

Geeze. All spending has increased over time, period. However, it would perhaps be insightful to realise entitlement spending (yes health care is part of this even BEFORE ACA) is the big enchilada when it comes to federal spending. Entitlement spending has simply exploded. Insight can be gleaned from many sources, perhaps one can begin to focus on the historical overall spending on the two major 'buckets' discretionary and mandatory. One insightful read can be found by googling "Mandatory Spending Since 1962". After the reading, the argument then turns to 'yea, but the government is supposed to take care of me'...geeze...

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

"Silly suits"?

Since this is the first time in the history of the US that the full House of Representatives has brought suit against a sitting President, it could hardly be called silly.

This one makes the grand total of one in the last 239 years.

You further seem concerned that the legal costs for the attorney representing the House have risen to a sum of $92,875.

Let's put that astonishing amount in its proper perspective.

With a requested expenditure for fiscal 2015 in the amount of $3.9 Trillion, the federal government is costing the taxpayers $123,668 PER SECOND.

Total attorney fees are therefore equivalent to 0.7510 of one second of operating costs.

That part of your argument is what is "silly".

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

"Silly suits"?

Since this is the first time in the history of the US that the full House of Representatives has brought suit against a sitting President, it could hardly be called silly.

This one makes the grand total of one in the last 239 years.

You further seem concerned that the legal costs for the attorney representing the House have risen to a sum of $92,875.

Let's put that astonishing amount in its proper perspective.

With a requested expenditure for fiscal 2015 in the amount of $3.9 Trillion, the federal government is costing the taxpayers $123,668 PER SECOND.

Total attorney fees are therefore equivalent to 0.7510 of one second of operating costs.

That part of your argument is what is "silly".

I wonder if it's such a solid case, why 2 attorneys already thanked for the job.

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

"Silly suits"?

Since this is the first time in the history of the US that the full House of Representatives has brought suit against a sitting President, it could hardly be called silly.

This one makes the grand total of one in the last 239 years.

You further seem concerned that the legal costs for the attorney representing the House have risen to a sum of $92,875.

Let's put that astonishing amount in its proper perspective.

With a requested expenditure for fiscal 2015 in the amount of $3.9 Trillion, the federal government is costing the taxpayers $123,668 PER SECOND.

Total attorney fees are therefore equivalent to 0.7510 of one second of operating costs.

That part of your argument is what is "silly".

I wonder if it's such a solid case, why 2 attorneys already thanked for the job.

Ask them. I have no idea nor do I care.

Edit in: After you do that you might want to show me where I claimed the case was "solid".

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

"Silly suits"?

Since this is the first time in the history of the US that the full House of Representatives has brought suit against a sitting President, it could hardly be called silly.

This one makes the grand total of one in the last 239 years.

You further seem concerned that the legal costs for the attorney representing the House have risen to a sum of $92,875.

Let's put that astonishing amount in its proper perspective.

With a requested expenditure for fiscal 2015 in the amount of $3.9 Trillion, the federal government is costing the taxpayers $123,668 PER SECOND.

Total attorney fees are therefore equivalent to 0.7510 of one second of operating costs.

That part of your argument is what is "silly".

I wonder if it's such a solid case, why 2 attorneys already thanked for the job.

Ask them. I have no idea nor do I care.

Edit in: After you do that you might want to show me where I claimed the case was "solid".

I thought you were very much involved in it, since you claimed that it for sure wasn't a silly case.

My understnding is that if 2 attorneys consider that it's a waste of time to proceed with a case, it may well be considered a silly case.

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"Silly suits"?

Since this is the first time in the history of the US that the full House of Representatives has brought suit against a sitting President, it could hardly be called silly.

This one makes the grand total of one in the last 239 years.

You further seem concerned that the legal costs for the attorney representing the House have risen to a sum of $92,875.

Let's put that astonishing amount in its proper perspective.

With a requested expenditure for fiscal 2015 in the amount of $3.9 Trillion, the federal government is costing the taxpayers $123,668 PER SECOND.

Total attorney fees are therefore equivalent to 0.7510 of one second of operating costs.

That part of your argument is what is "silly".

I wonder if it's such a solid case, why 2 attorneys already thanked for the job.

Ask them. I have no idea nor do I care.

Edit in: After you do that you might want to show me where I claimed the case was "solid".

I thought you were very much involved in it, since you claimed that it for sure wasn't a silly case.

My understnding is that if 2 attorneys consider that it's a waste of time to proceed with a case, it may well be considered a silly case.

Just because you disagree with the suit does not make it "silly".

Do you even understand what the suit is about? The OP makes this statement...

--------------------------------------------------------------------

"At issue in the case is some $175 billion the administration is paying health insurance companies over a decade to reimburse them for offering lowered rates for poor people. The House argues that Congress never specifically appropriated that money, and indeed denied an administration request for it, but that the administration is paying it anyway.

The House says this amounts to unconstitutionally co-opting Congress' power of the purse. The administration insists it is relying on an existing pot of money that it is allowed to use.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

The administration wants to pay insurance companies that have given lowered rates to "poor people" some $175 Billion so the insurance companies won't lose any profit.

The House failed to appropriate the funds to compensate insurance companies.

Obama is doing it anyway.

If Congress is given standing in this suit, it could put a stop to spending $175 Billion of federal funds over the next decade.

I consider this a good thing so, yes, I don't think the suit is "silly".

You have a problem with paying an attorney $92,875 but seemingly have no problem with the Obama administration making insurance companies whole against loss of revenue by paying them $175 Billion over a decade.
By the way, the attorney's fees represent 0.0000005307% of $175 Billion.

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Ask them. I have no idea nor do I care.

Edit in: After you do that you might want to show me where I claimed the case was "solid".

I thought you were very much involved in it, since you claimed that it for sure wasn't a silly case.

My understnding is that if 2 attorneys consider that it's a waste of time to proceed with a case, it may well be considered a silly case.

Just because you disagree with the suit does not make it "silly".

Do you even understand what the suit is about? The OP makes this statement...

--------------------------------------------------------------------

"At issue in the case is some $175 billion the administration is paying health insurance companies over a decade to reimburse them for offering lowered rates for poor people. The House argues that Congress never specifically appropriated that money, and indeed denied an administration request for it, but that the administration is paying it anyway.

The House says this amounts to unconstitutionally co-opting Congress' power of the purse. The administration insists it is relying on an existing pot of money that it is allowed to use.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

The administration wants to pay insurance companies that have given lowered rates to "poor people" some $175 Billion so the insurance companies won't lose any profit.

The House failed to appropriate the funds to compensate insurance companies.

Obama is doing it anyway.

If Congress is given standing in this suit, it could put a stop to spending $175 Billion of federal funds over the next decade.

I consider this a good thing so, yes, I don't think the suit is "silly".

You have a problem with paying an attorney $92,875 but seemingly have no problem with the Obama administration making insurance companies whole against loss of revenue by paying them $175 Billion over a decade.
By the way, the attorney's fees represent 0.0000005307% of $175 Billion.

The definition of a silly court case is not what you or me think of it, but if it makes a chance in court or not.

I assume that the 2 attorneys that thanked for the job have much more knowledge about the case than anyone on this forum, including you and me.

If they thanked for the job, i read in it that they saw no point in the case, and considered it a waste of time as they didn't see a chance to declare a victory in court.

So if one starts a court case that is deemed lost beforehand, it is a silly court case, and the attorneys fees even if they were only 100$ are a waste of taxpayers money.

This is by the way not the only court case, there are probably hundreds of which most Americans are even not aware of the existence of them.

Over and out for me. Bye

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My last word will be rhetorical in nature.

If one attorney refuses to take a suit, is it silly?

If two attorneys refusing to take a case makes it "silly", what would the case be if three or more refuse to take it?

Finally, if no attorney's refuse to take a case, does that make it an iron clad winning case?

...and with those thoughts, I bid you a fond farewell.

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

Can't go in the Koch pockets more like.

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An adverse decision by Collyer will be appealed while ACA continues to operate.

An adverse decision by the Court of Appeals will be appealed to the Supreme Court while ACA continues to operate.

Courts can expedite decisions if there is a matter of "lfe and death". But in this case a ruling against the Obama admininstration will cut off millions from affordable healthcare insurance with no alternatives offered by the Republicans. So any long delays in hearing appeals are likely. That will only play politically to the Democratic Party in the upcoming 2016 Presidential elections.

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An adverse decision by Collyer will be appealed while ACA continues to operate.

An adverse decision by the Court of Appeals will be appealed to the Supreme Court while ACA continues to operate.

Courts can expedite decisions if there is a matter of "lfe and death". But in this case a ruling against the Obama admininstration will cut off millions from affordable healthcare insurance with no alternatives offered by the Republicans. So any long delays in hearing appeals are likely. That will only play politically to the Democratic Party in the upcoming 2016 Presidential elections.

The Democrats wrote the bill, passed the bill in both Houses of Congress and it was signed into law by a Democratic President.

Not one single Republican voted for it or had any input into the wording of the law.

If it is found unconstitutional because it was poorly written, I would think only the Democrats would be blamed.

Democrats will think otherwise, of course.

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They should have GOP cough up the money for silly lawsuits by themselves, instead of from taxpayers money, unless they win their silly suits.

Guess they would file much less of them.

Of course their reasoning for the court case is that all money spend on healthcare can't go in the military budget.

Why do you say silly lawsuit? The lawsuit was brought about because the law is poorly written. You assume that spending $92000 to save taxpayers $175 billion is a waste? And not all lawyers want every case. Do you have info to show why they chose not to take it?

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