Gelber blasts McCollum for AG's attack on health care bill

Perhaps jealous that it was State Senator Carey Baker getting some national play in the New York Times for his proposal to put a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot that would allow Florida to opt-out of any national health care legislation,  Attorney General Bill McCollum yesterday questioned the constitutionality of the legislation, earning him his own feature story in the country's paper of record today.

On a conference call with state reporters yesterday, the GOP gubernatorial candidate called the mandate in the legislation that requires individuals to buy health insurance or pay a fine as an "affront to our nation's principles" and "a tax on the living" which he says could be illegal.

As the Times reports, this position puts McCollum in sync with over ten attorney generals across the country who have threatened to sue over the legislation, though many are contemplating a lawsuit over the slick deal that Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson was able to procure for his Senate vote that allow Nebraska to get an exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion, a carve out that is expected to cost the federal government $100 million over 10 years.

On various social media sites, as well as on his blog, the man who aspires to replace McCollum as AG, Miami Beach State Senator Dan Gelber, blasted McCollum, writing:

We live in a state with a full-blown health care crisis. No state (other than Texas) has a higher percentage of uninsured with over 4 million (including 800,000 children) in our state lacking care. And we have yet to hear a squeak from the AG’s office about this failure even though there are plenty of AG’s across the country that weigh into the issue in their home states.

And later in the same post, Gelber writes:

General McCollum's decision to use his office to investigate ways to block health insurance reform is exactly why we need new leadership in the Attorney General's office. I wish McCollum was as concerned about solving Florida's health care crisis as he was about stopping the solving of the health care crisis.

Gelber is engaged in a fierce (but so far respectable) primary race against his State Senate colleague Dave Aronberg.  Both are far more animated in conversation on how they would transform their office from what they say has occurred under McCollum's watch, than they have to say about one another.  Which makes sense, since the two are relatively close on the issues as opposed to the current AG, who has a long and extensive record - one that they believe is too conservative and puts him out of the mainstream of the average Floridian.

Getting back to McCollum's complaint.  As the Times reports, he's actually jumping onto a bandwagon of conservative thought (like this report from the Heritage Foundation) that has articulated the notion that mandating health insurance coverage is (as opposed to mandating car insurance) unconstitutional.

And McCollum's position is also shared by hard core liberals who don't dig the mandate -none more vocal than MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann's position was attacked by fellow progressive Mike Madden in Salon the day after his fusillade.

I've even heard some conservatives say they're putting their faith in stopping the health care bill in the hands of John Roberts and the U.S. Supreme Court.  We'll  have to wait and see on that - since we still have more fun left in observing the negotiations between the House and Senate next month on reconciling their two versions of the legislation.

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