"Cornhusker Kickback" vote by Nelson under scrutiny

South Carolina Atty General Henry McMastersSouth Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster says the deal Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson struck with congressional leaders in exchange for his vote on health care reform “smacks of corruption.” McMaster is one of 10 Republican state attorneys general who are questioning the constitutionality of the Medicaid deal which would exempt Nebraska from paying its share of the program’s expansion in the state. McMaster is calling it the “Cornhusker Kickback.”

“Although the spending power in the Congress is very broad, it is not unlimited,” McMaster says. “The case law under the Constitution has said that where you have distinctions or different treatment in a general law, that distinction must be based on a reason. Some kind of reason, like in this case, population, poverty, health facilities or something. I can’t be based on just buying a vote. That is not a good reason under the Constitution.”
Reports say the cost of Nebraska’s share of the expansion of the Medicaid program would be an estimated $100 million over 10 years. McMaster says it is quite evident the deal was struck only to gain a vote in order to get a piece of legislation passed in the Senate.
“This is an unprecedented thing where hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent in Nebraska if this becomes law at the expense of the other states,” McMaster says. “There’s not even a pretense of a reason being given for it, no reason for the special treatment other than the fact it was to buy a senator’s vote.”
McMaster says he and the other Republican state attorneys general are not playing politics, they are seriously expressing their concern about the constitutionality of the deal with the state of Nebraska.
“We believe that it reflects a culture of corruption that is going on in Washington. It ought to stop. Somebody needs to do something,” McMaster says. “When you have over 20-percent of the states’ attorneys general have voiced serious legal concern, I think there’s a real problem. What we hope, of course, is that the conference committee will just delete this thing from the bill and that we won’t have to consider bringing a lawsuit.”
McMaster made his comments on MSNBC.
Thanks to Ashley Byrd at the South Carolina Radio Network