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COMMUNITY VOICE

Long needs to allow discussion on Obamacare bill or tell us why not

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 12:01 am

Driving across town before the election and observing the bumper crop of political signs, I thought to myself: If this were a marketing contest, David Long would win hands down.

His signs were everywhere, and large, too, dwarfing all the other candidates. No content, just his name in letters two feet high. Strange, I mused, are these signs a subtle reminder of his power or a desperate need for name recognition?

My gosh, David’s been in the Statehouse for 25 years!

Later in my office, I stumbled onto the Vote Smart site (www.votesmart.org) and out of curiosity began to examine the senator’s campaign. His list of hefty donors would make Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina jealous, and his voting record is impressive. Really impressive.

But then, under the “Issues Positions” heading, I learned that David Long had repeatedly refused to “tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2012 Political Courage Test .”

Hmmm. He’s playing it safe, I thought, giving my old friend the benefit of the doubt.

I remember when he visited our citizens’ awareness group and assured us he was one of us. And yet as I turned off my laptop that evening, I couldn’t help but wonder, why wouldn’t David stand up and be counted and answer the questionnaire? Are we being “played”? See, I’m one of those old-fashioned Americans — suspicious of all politicians, especially entrenched ones.

Well now the election’s over, and Long doesn’t need my vote anymore, and sure enough my misgivings have been confirmed as informed voters throughout the state begin to call Long the Benedict Arnold of Indiana.

You may have heard of “Nullification,” a big word that simply means that according to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, states have the right to void a federal law within their boundaries if they deem it to be unconstitutional. Currently 14 states have passed legislation declaring Obamacare null and void within their state. Indiana could join that elite group and become number 15, boosting the momentum.

But Sen. Long, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, steadfastly refuses to allow any discussion of Senate Bill 230 (nullifying Obamacare in Indiana), and without that discussion there will be no vote. This important legislation will die in committee, even though there are now 11 co-sponsors, strong support in the House as well as the Senate, and positive signals from our past and current governors.

It’s a pretty unbelievable situation — the kind of political shenanigan we’ve come to expect from Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi, not David Long. Think about it. How can one man, I don’t care if he is the Senate President Pro Tempore, prohibit a public conversation at the statehouse on the hottest issue of the day? Nobody made Long king!

There’s wisdom to be found in a public debate about the dangers of a menacing federal dictatorship, which could prove to be very instructive indeed.

After all, this attempt to nullify could well be the last hurrah, our final chance to dismantle this ugly mandate that will change the landscape of the United States forever! Public polls have demonstrated it time and time again. We don’t like Obamacare, and we want to see something done about it. Why not allow the debate, then?

If, indeed, Long thinks nullification would only entangle Indiana in an expensive, unwinnable lawsuit, then let him voice that concern in a public forum now instead of hiding behind procedure. And if he dares to assert that re-writing the United States Constitution is the only solution to federal overreach, then God help us all!

Thomas Jefferson warned, “States should be watchful to note every material usurpation of their rights: Denounce them as they occur in the most peremptory terms, to protest against them as wrongs to which our present submission shall be considered, not as acknowledgments or precedents of right.”

And so I’m watching my old friend, rooting for his leadership of yesteryear and hoping against hope that Sen. Long’s first loyalty is to our Constitution, not some image, higher office or influential insider cabal.

I encourage you to contact him at 800-382-9467 or 317-232-9400. Tell Sen. Long to let the hearing commence and the robust debate begin, but do it soon. The deadline for committee reports is Feb. 21.

Connie Kovas Moreno is a resident of Fort Wayne.