Chat With The Eye: health-care reform, Virginia Thomas and the Tea Party and White House vs. Supreme Court
Highlights of Tuesday's Post Politics Hour, which included several queries about the health-care reform endgame, the White House vs. Supreme Court spat and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas:
Richmond, Va.: Do I have the right to be a little worried about the hostility between the judiciary and the executive branch? The fact is, I am NOT enjoying the back and forth between the WH and the Supreme Count (I do not think either should be commenting on the other) --and now, with Justice Thomas' wife weighing in on the Tea Party, I feel that there is an escalation (and a kind of precedent) that does not bode well for the dignified (not to mention the constitutional-setting) balance of power.
Ed O'Keefe: The justice's wife is free to do whatever she wants with her free time. She's not the first spouse of a political figure to go chart her own political or activist path.
But the escalation of tensions -- both on a procedural, ideological and personal level -- does seem stunning. And with reports by my colleague Scott Wilson that they're likely to continue in the coming months, it seems the tension won't subside anytime soon.
Here's a question: Which is more detrimental right now: The tension between the U.S. and the Israelis or the tension between the White House and Supreme Court?
Wappingers Falls, New York: Is deem-and-pass legal? Can it go right to the Supreme Court? It seems as though Pelosi and Obama are breaking laws, how can we the people be protected?
Ed O'Keefe: The process is legal -- at least that's the general consensus among nonpartisan observers.
As my colleagues Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane report today, the "self-executing rule" or "deem and pass" has been commonly used, but never on something as momentous as health-care reform.
Pelosi said on Monday that she's considering the tactic, and prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure.
Kettering, Ohio: Your column today highlights a remarkable statistic, with so many complaints about fraud in the stimulus spending. Do you suppose Washington still wonders why no one trusts it much further than they can throw it?
Ed O'Keefe: Actually the statistic is on par for the percentage of complaints versus actual investigations referred to inspectors general at federal agencies.
So far federal prosecutors are investigating 43 of the 1,771 allegations, a small percentage of the complaints.
Ask watchdogs and they'll tell you that some of complaints they receive aren't really serious complaints at all -- it might be someone who misunderstands how the money is getting spent and it might also be someone trying to make life difficult for someone who received funding (perhaps a rival company who didn't get the contract).
It will take months, if not years for these cases and prosecutions to surface publicly, since major cases take a long time to investigate. Stay tuned.
San Diego CA: So if the House passes the Senate bill via deem and pass, the bill that goes to the President would be the Senate bill, not the fixer bill used as the vehicle for deem and pass? Pelosi's tactics seem to get more and more unseemly by the day...
Ed O'Keefe: From The Post's Congressional correspondent/expert Paul Kane:
The only option for health-care reform since the arrival of Scott Brown, has been passing the Senate bill.
That gets signed into law.
Then, a week or so later, the Senate sends him the fixer bill. Which then gets signed into law also.
Read the full chat here.
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