- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kickback campaign

South Carolina’s Republican attorney general and gubernatorial contender Henry McMaster says there are plenty of ways for other attorneys like him, citizens and coalitions to fight health care legislation moving through Congress.

But for now Mr. McMaster is focusing his efforts on fighting what he calls the “cornhusker kickback” that exempts Nebraska residents from paying for expanded Medicaid services required in the legislation.

And he is not alone. So far, he has persuaded a dozen other state attorneys general, including Oklahoma Democrat Attorney General Drew Edmondson, to sign a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, warning of a challenge to that provision if it’s not removed from the final version of the bill.

The attorneys general argue in the letter that giving Nebraskans special treatment amounts to “arbitrary and capricious” spending.

Mr. McMaster spoke to conservative-leaning writers at a roundtable hosted by Americans for Tax Reform on Wednesday, saying, “There has to be some reason, called a distinction, and the only reason for this is that Sen. Nelson’s vote was needed for cloture.”

During his talk he also made it clear the “cornhusker kickback” wasn’t the only item in the bill open to legal challenges. Several conservatives have talked about fighting provisions requiring Americans to purchase health care and states to set up health care exchanges and Mr. McMaster appeared to encourage those efforts, too.

“There are plenty of targets of opportunity,” he said

Those “opportunities,” however, have been interpreted as opportunistic by some of his critics who argue Mr. McMaster is using the “cornhusker kickback” to increase his standing in the GOP and gubernatorial prospects. And, he didn’t do much to bat down the notion he wouldn’t be talking about this on the campaign trail.

“This is not a campaign issue,” Mr. McMaster said when asked about whether he planned on using this for political benefit. But, he was quick to walk that back. “I mean, it can be a campaign issue, but not in the legal context,” he clarified.

Bye-bye Natalie

Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines, who caused a ruckus by publicly criticizing President George W. Bush during a 2003 concert in England, has quit the country girl group.

Country Music Television reported the Texas singer will not be included in the new Dixie Chicks album that will be coming out later this year.

Although she hasnt given any reason for her departure publicly, the comments Ms. Maines made about the Republican president — just days before the invasion of Iraq — caused lots of heartburn among country music fans. At the time, she said, “We do not want this war, this violence, and were ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”

Cafferty’s jabs

CNN commentator Jack Cafferty isn’t mincing any words when it comes to what he thinks about Capitol Hill’s most powerful woman.

During a recent broadcast of the “Situation Room,” he twice called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, a “horrible woman.”

What incensed him was a CBS News report that at least 20 members of Congress attended the Copenhagen summit on climate change last month on the taxpayer’s dime while the nation’s unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent.

And he laid the blame on Mrs. Pelosi for leading the delegation that spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for flights on both military and commercial jets, rooms at a five-star Marriott Hotel in Copenhagen, and tens of thousands of dollars more for meals and other entertainment expenses, according to the CBS report.

“What a horrible woman she is,” he concluded at the end of his segment.

“Jack, you have got to tell us how you really feel about Nancy Pelosi,” chided “Situation Room” host Wolf Blitzer.

Mr. Cafferty was happy to repeat it. “She’s a horrible woman,” he said again.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at [email protected]

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