South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, one of 15 state prosecutors challenging the Senate health care bill’s special deal for Nebraska, on Wednesday characterized his effort as an “uphill battle” that nonetheless is worth fighting and winnable.
McMaster, speaking at an American Spectator Newsmaker event, said that the bill violates the Constitution by providing the Cornhusker state with extra Medicaid money to secure the Sen. Ben Nelson’s vote.
The prosecutor, who is running for governor of South Carolina, said there are several problems with the deal. It isn’t based on any clear standard such as demographics, poverty levels, or so forth. And unlike military bases which may create jobs in a given state but end up serving a purpose for the nation as a whole, the Medicaid deal benefits Nebraska only. The spending was completely arbitrary, he said, and doled out for no other reason than to secure a vote — in violation of the parts of the Constitution that dictate how Congress can spend its money.
McMaster said that they will be seeking an injunction, but the case would be over if the provision gets dropped. However, he said that there were other elements of the bill that could be challenged. This includes the individual mandate, which would extend Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce to a case in which individuals are not purchasing something, and the measure that would force states to establish health insurance exchanges, which would be an instance of the federal government “commandeering” a state function.
When asked, McMaster acknowledged that courts have had a tendency to be deferential to Congressional power.
“It’s an uphill battle,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fought. And it doesn’t mean it can’t be won.”