Caricature of Lamar Alexander
Lamar Alexander
Congressional Republicans long ago promised that, while they might not actually get any legislating done on the "replace" part of "repeal and replace Obamacare," they'd work on the repeal part and do so with investigations. They think they found a hot new scandal in the news that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has solicited private donations from health industry executives to help make up funding congressional Republicans have denied.

Cue the outrage from House Republicans, who have launched a probe in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and from Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has asked the GAO to investigate, and who's lost himself in hyperbole by saying that Sebelius's fundraising was a much bigger scandal than Reagan's Iran-Contra clandestine war.

"The reason I used the analogy to Iran-Contra scandal is this administration’s persistent thumbing of its nose at Article 1 of the Constitution because that made it very clear that the purpose of creating Congress is to curb executive power. [...]

"This is arguably an even bigger issue because, in Iran-Contra, you had $30 million that was spent by Oliver North through private organizations for a purpose congress refused to authorize, in support of the rebels. Here, you’re wanting to spend millions more in support of private organizations to do something that Congress has refused."

The executive waging a clandestine war specifically prohibited by Congress and arming death squads versus getting affordable health insurance for Americans. Yeah, obviously the latter is a much more extreme abuse by the executive branch. What makes this particularly rich, however, is that it comes from Lamar Alexander. That would be the same Lamar Alexander who served as education secretary under George H.W. Bush and who solicited private funds for education reform while he was secretary.
Alexander crisscrossed the country to sell the initiative on behalf of the administration after Congress failed to approve Bush’s education funding request. The president announced formation of the nonprofit New American Schools Development Corp. and tasked it with raising $200 million to design new school models that communities can adopt, even planning a special meeting with businesses at Camp David to drum up support for more donations. [...]

The administration continued to fundraise for the effort, with Alexander himself making a pitch. Responding to a Associated Press report from August of 1991, which noted that businesses are hesitant to commit additional dollars to new causes during the recession, Alexander said, “In my opinion, the more you ask for the more you get. We’ve been very timid about asking American businesses to support elementary and secondary education, tiptoeing around the edges,” he added. “We shouldn’t do that. This is a big, rich generous country and we’ve got plenty of money for all the innovations, especially innovations in excellence.”

Prerequisite for being a Republican serving in Congress? A very short and very selective memory.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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