Video: McConnell to HHS: Call off the speech police

posted at 10:55 am on September 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

On Monday, we noted that the Obama administration had begun a probe into Humana’s attempts to communicate with its customers on ObamaCare. Humana told customers that the proposed changes would result in reduced benefits for its members on their Medicare Advantage plans, and the White House accused them of spreading faslehoods. Of course, the CBO now says exactly what Humana argued all along, but even absent that, the Obama administration has no business investigating the exercise of free speech.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scolded the Obama administration on the Senate floor for its arrogance and overreach. In this conclusion to his remarks, McConnell says the politicians attempting to infringe on free speech should be the ones getting warned:

“I would remind my colleagues that I have spent my career defending the First Amendment rights of people to criticize their elected officials, including me. I would make the same argument if this were a company based in San Francisco or Helena or Chicago.

“The right to free speech is at the core of our democracy. Free citizens have a First Amendment right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. This gag order on companies like Humana and those in all our states, in my view, is a clear violation of that right. It’s wrong.

“Employers that warn their customers about the effects of legislation aren’t the ones who should be getting warnings here. Senators who threaten Americans’ First Amendment rights are.”

And McConnell makes this rather telling comparison:

“Is this how citizens and companies can expect to be treated if health reform passes? That any health provider that disagrees with a powerful Senator will be subject to an investigation and a gag order?

“How is this any different than what the Washington Post and New York Times have done in lobbying for a reporter shield law? Would we stand by if the Judiciary Committee asked the FBI to investigate the media for taking positions on pending legislation we don’t agree with? Of course not.”

It’s no different at all. The Times and the Post have every right to communicate with their customers on political issues, including those that directly impact themselves. Humana has that same right. Only an administration that thinks of American citizens as children would think that we cannot weigh the facts and come to our own conclusions. Arrogance is a mild term indeed for this incident, especially given Douglas Elmendorf’s testimony that completely corroborated Humana’s mailers.

Full speech here:

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President for life-gosh didn’t see that coming.

texanpride on September 23, 2009 at 2:12 PM

So can you keep your doctor under Obamacare. The simple way to find out.

highhopes on September 23, 2009 at 2:15 PM

highhopes on September 23, 2009 at 2:15 PM

And that’s only if he decides to keep practicing when he’s losing money on your visit.

When keeping his doors opening and paying his staff, isn’t possible because the government reimbursement is set too low, by people (like Barack Obama) who don’t know what they’re doing.

But he can make it up in volume! – Barack Obama

NoDonkey on September 23, 2009 at 2:36 PM


I really appreciate the fact that you supplement your videos with text. Providing transcriptions which can be read so much faster than watched, and which can easily be excerpted by others, is a truly valuable public service.

Thank you!

JM Hanes on September 23, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Idi Obama Da Da president for life. See how the sons of Africa have led that great continent to a higher standard of living./s
Name one sub-sahara or other country on that continent that prospered after Europeans were thrown out. Name one that was prosperous before they came.

This is an example of despots coming to and maintaining power. Shut up any criticism or truth that may shine light on wrong.

wepeople on September 23, 2009 at 6:33 PM

President Obama has never concerned himself with the rule of law. That’s been our problem all along. We actually think “well he’s the President so of course he’ll respect the rule of law.” I swear I’ve been challenged on this since his inauguration as to whether or not he even knows or, at the very least, comprehends the constitution. And I don’t blame him for his blatant arrogance with regard to the constitution. He’s never had any intention to follow such a thing or learn about it. What is embarrassing to our entire nation is that McConnell has to actually come to the floor of the Senate and explain to it’s members a constitutional principle that has been around for over 200 years. Where are the boobs on the left reminding (or maybe even sitting down and teaching ) the President about the constitution. All of this is a clear signal to me that those people in power have got to be shown the door next november.

ranzofola on September 23, 2009 at 6:38 PM

Scene: Middle School Auditorium, American children lined up on the stage. A communist volunteer from ACORN is teaching them to perform the following chant:

Barack Hussein Obama … Is Pres-i-dent for life.
Mmmm … Mmmm … Mmmm
Barack Hussein Obama … He Prohi-bits social stife.
Mmmm … Mmmm … Mmmm
Barack Hussein Obama … He pulled us from the brink.
Mmmm … Mmmm … Mmmm
Barack Hussein Obama … He threw Hum-an-a in the klink.
Mmmm … Mmmm … Mmmm

Meanwhile, the children’s parents have no idea, nor do they care what their children are learning at school. They also have no clue what is happening RIGHT NOW to their country.

cavman on September 25, 2009 at 12:11 PM