LA Times: Outrage over Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst isn’t dying down — Joe Wilson Video — Joe Wilson is Under Attack- Stand with Joe Today Video — CBS New: Does Joe Wilson Have A Case On Health Care, Illegal Aliens? — Newsweek: A Defense of Joe Wilson: The Democratic Right to Dissent
Although President Obama accepted the Republican congressman’s apology for his ‘You lie’ remark, Democrats are calling for a public mea culpa and using the incident in fundraising appeals.
Reporting from Washington – The congressman who heckled President Obama during a televised address found that while the president accepted his apology Thursday, the furor over his outburst did not let up. “I’m a big believer that we all make mistakes,” Obama said in acknowledging the apology from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). The lawmaker’s shout of “You lie!” during the president’s speech on healthcare was a significant break in decorum.
“I do think that, as I said last night, we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling, without the assumption of the worst of other people’s motives,” Obama said. Still, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, a Democrat from Wilson’s home state, said that he planned to push for a resolution expressing disapproval of the incident unless Wilson issued a public apology on the House floor.
And Rob Miller — the Democratic challenger for Wilson’s House seat — raked in 14,000-plus contributions totaling more than $500,000 since the Wednesday night outburst, according to the House Democratic Campaign Committee. The committee also has cited the shout-out in a fundraising appeal: “Calling the president of the United States a liar in front of the nation is a new low even for House Republicans.”
Wilson spokesman Ryan Murphy said that the lawmaker had “apologized to the president sincerely, and the president accepted and said let’s move on and have a civil discourse. And the congressman agrees.” Wilson’s outburst came in response to Obama’s statement that a healthcare overhaul would not directly benefit illegal immigrants. “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants,” the president said. “This too is false — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” On Thursday, some people said Wilson was right in challenging Obama’s statement.
“It is a real shame that the rest of Congress was not on their feet pointing out the president’s lie about illegal aliens in his healthcare plans,” said William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration, a political action committee. The healthcare bills developed by House Democrats and by the Senate’s health committee explicitly prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving federal subsidies for insurance. However, the House Republican leadership has complained that there is no provision to enforce the prohibition. GOP House leaders also complain that Democrats rejected their amendment to require applicants for federally subsidized healthcare to verify their legal status.
Republican leaders said the furor over Wilson had distracted them from their efforts to talk about healthcare and Obama’s speech. They described their colleague’s prompt apology as adequate. “I think all of us who know Joe Wilson know that he did the right thing in apologizing to this White House,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). “I don’t think anyone accepts the type of outburst and the lack of decorum in the House chamber.”
… There have been many examples of the breakdown in civility on Capitol Hill over the years, including Vice President Dick Cheney directing an obscenity at a senator on the Senate floor in 2004. In 1856, a South Carolina House member, Preston Brooks, entered the Senate chamber and severely beat abolitionist Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts over the head with a cane.
Even so, according to the Office of the House Historian, “the rules and precedents of the House do not allow insulting language or personal attacks, or even the public questioning of the sincerity of a member.”
Joe Wilson is Under Attack- Stand with Joe Today
Today, I need your help more than ever before. I’ve been under attack by the liberals for months and they’ve done everything they can to quiet my very vocal opposition to more government interference in Americans’ lives. Now, it’s gotten even worse, but I will not stop fighting against their policies that will only lead to more government interference, more spending, and higher deficits.
I should not have disrespected the President during his speech. But I am not sorry for fighting back against the dangerous policies of liberal Democrats. I will not back down.
Will you stand with me today and help me fight back against liberal attacks by making a donation to my campaign?
CBS News, Posted by Declan McCullagh
Rep. Joe Wilson, who shouted “You lie!” at President Obama last night, may have been rude. But was he right?
Let’s look at the facts. CBS News has posted the transcript of the president’s speech, which says: “There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”
What the Obama administration is proposing is something of a moving target — just look at the varying opinions about whether last night’s speech abandoned the “public option” — but the White House health care page offers a reasonable summary. Nowhere does it talk about illegal immigrants.
In an interview in July with CBS News, Obama said he didn’t want to include illegal immigrants but indicated that American taxpayers could be required to pick up some health care bills for their children. That’s not the same as all illegal immigrants, which is what Wilson, the South Carolina Republican, was talking about.
So that brings us to to the House Democrats’ proposal, aka H.R. 3200. It’s true that one portion, Section 246, limits “federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.” But H.R. 3200 is a large and complex bill and Section 246 is limited in scope; the overall bill contains far more moving parts than just affordability credits.
The Congressional Research Service, the legislative branch’s research arm, took a close look at H.R. 3200 in a report dated August 25. It concludes that the bill’s individual mandate to have health insurance (with tax penalties for non-compliance) would apply to legal residents and illegal aliens alike…
If Democrats wanted to eliminate allegations such as Joe Wilson’s, they could simply rewrite H.R. 3200 to say: No illegal immigrant can shop at the Health Insurance Exchange.
Rep. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, offered precisely that amendment during a House Ways and Means committee vote in July. It said that to “utilize the public health insurance option, an individual must have had his or her eligibility determined and approved” through two existing verification programs already used by the federal government. One is called SAVE, and checks immigration status, and the other is called IEVS, which is used in conjunction with Social Security.
In a party line vote, Democrats rejected Heller’s amendment. After the vote, Heller said in a statement that: “If the majority party insists on moving forward with government-run healthcare plan, Congress should do everything within its power to curb abuse. Requiring citizenship verification for enrollment would ensure only citizens and legal residents receive taxpayer funded healthcare.” (Here’s a YouTube video of Heller.)
One likely reason why Democrats shot down Heller is that they’re under pressure from the left to include — or at least not explicitly exclude — illegal immigrants. That would mean rejecting any requirement that applicants’ eligibility as citizens or legal immigrants be verified…
Which is why pointing only to H.R. 3200’s section 246 — which groups such as Factcheck.org have done — is a bit misleading. Even the generally pro-immigration Los Angeles Times warned last month that: “The prospect of subsidized health benefits would raise the incentive for illegal border crossings. That’s one reason insurance coverage for illegal immigrants should be addressed in the context of comprehensive immigration reform, not an overhaul of the healthcare system.”
At least in Washington circles, this became a relatively high-profile debate last month, which is probably why Obama felt the need to respond to it yesterday. One example: Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican, wrote an opinion article for The Hill newspaper saying the National Council of La Raza and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were responsible for blocking the verification amendment. “The Democrats’ bill in the House, H.R. 3200, contains gaping loopholes that will allow illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded benefits. And these loopholes are no accident,” Smith wrote.
Republicans also pointed out over the summer that House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats killed a GOP proposal requiring states to keep illegal aliens off of Medicaid. Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia said afterwards that the “reason for the amendment is that the underlying bill would require millions of people to be automatically enrolled in Medicaid without any guarantees that these new enrollees are United States citizens or legal residents.”
The Congressional Research Service says that as of early 2008, there were approximately 37.3 million foreign-born persons in the United States, including legal and illegal immigrants. The foreign-born population was divided into about 15.1 million naturalized U.S. citizens and 22.2 million non-citizens. Some estimates put the number of illegal non-citizens at 11 million; Texas estimates illegal immigrants cost its hospitals $1.3 billion in 2006, and California put the figure at $1.4 billion in 2004…
This brings us back to Obama’s speech last night. It’s true that the Democrats haven’t explicitly called for illegal immigrants to be covered by H.R. 3200, but by voting down two amendments that would have verified participants’ legal status, they seem to have implicitly allowed it. It’s no crime in Washington to say one thing and do another, especially when you’re under pressure from influential special interest groups, but it should still be a bit embarrassing for politicians discovered to be doing it.
So while Joe Wilson may not have chosen the best way to express it, he did have a point. As the president might have said, the Republican politico’s outburst has turned into one of those teachable moments.
Newsweek, By John Barry
Am I alone in thinking that Rep. Joe Wilson’s shouted comment to President Obama in the middle of his address to a joint session of Congress last night was a healthy sign? Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, reportedly approached two senior Republicans immediately after the speech and said: “No president has ever had that happen. Ever. My advice is that he apologize immediately. You know my number.” Congressman Wilson (R-S.C.), chastened or perhaps merely pressured, did make the call, and later issued a public apology. But why?
OK, Wilson’s comments were way outside the bounds of civil debate. “You lie” would have got Wilson thrown out of any legislative chamber in the Western world. And whoever shouted “Not true” would also have suffered instant “suspension.” But other Republican shouts of dissent during Obama’s speech—“It’s true,” “Read the Bill,” and “Shame”—would have been reckoned fair comment. Yet here they have been greeted with shock and horror: evidence of “the insolence of House Republicans,” as Dana Milbank put it.
The notion that dissent, temperately voiced, was in principle out of place seems to me odd. This wasn’t a church service. It wasn’t a ceremonial occasion to celebrate some event inspiring or requiring national unity. It was a highly political address about a passionately contentious topic. It was laden with sentences carefully crafted to elicit applause from Democrats, while the TV cameras could show the Republicans sitting in surly silence. Why is silence thought the only proper means of dissent?
…The episode, trivial in itself, perfectly illustrates what I think has become a real source of damage to American democracy: a confusion between the president’s two roles. More precisely, our failure to figure out a way to cope with them. The Founding Fathers saw the president as an aloof figure, above the turmoil of the two chambers of the legislature. George Washington, the father of the nation, was such a protean figure. But the role of the president has evolved beyond anything the Founding Fathers ever envisaged. Now, he is head of a vast and vastly powerful executive branch. He is, and is expected to be, an activist head of government—a prime minister as well as head of state.
So when does our head of government answer to questioning by the legislature? Unless he’s impeached, the answer is never. (The only real questioning the president ever faces is when he chooses to call a White House press conference. Even these have become such stage-managed events that their inquisitorial value is close to zero.) Increasingly, the president’s most powerful officials are similarly aloof from inquiry. Consider Obama’s bevy of “czars” and “presidential envoys” to handle multiple areas of domestic and foreign policy. As White House officials, they are beyond the reach of Congressional questioning. But why? What purpose is served by grilling some cabinet secretary, when the administration has already made it clear that real power lies with the czar above them? To adapt an old and vulgar proverb: why question the monkey if the organ grinder remains out of reach?
The debacles of the past decade surely show how damaging is this inability to require America’s head of government to explain and defend his actions, at the time, to the legislature. Suppose President Bush had been forced to answer tough questions back in spring 2003 about his arguments for invading Iraq? Or his decision to set up Guantánamo and fill it with detainees scarfed up from faraway battlefields? Or his decision to allow the methods of interrogation that he did? The questions he never had seriously to address quickly mount up. Had President Bush been required to come before Congress, on regular and frequent occasions, to explain and defend his decisions, the outcomes might have been no different. I suspect they would have been. What’s certain is that national debate would have been more informed, more searching, more inclusive—more democratic.
So, back to last night’s address to Congress. The debate over President Obama’s desire to change America’s health-care system would surely have been less beset by angry fantasies, less in thrall to paranoid conspiracy theories about “death panels,” if the head of government had been required, over these past months, to face Congress at intervals and answer questions about what he had in mind? It’s an axiom of American civic life that open government is the best government. In an age when the frenzies of cable-TV and talk-radio demagogues command the audiences they do, it’s time to wonder whether open government—the chief executive forced to explain and defend what he intends, and why he intends it—might be our best hope of keeping our national debates within the bounds of rationality and, yes, civility that the Founding Fathers hoped.
Washington Post Votes Database: Joe Wilson
Politico: Joe Wilson’s rallying cry
Huffington Post: Joe Wilson Apologizes For Shouting “You Lie!” At Obama
Real Clear: FOX’s Sean Hannity interviews Congressman Joe Wilson (Video)
Updated Link: MSNBC: WH on health care, illegal immigrants
Updated YouTube Video Link: ‘Go Home!’: DC Crowd Drowns Out CNN Reporter During Live Report