The three Republican candidates for governor say Iowa’s governor and attorney general should launch a legal challenge of the new, national health care reform plan President Obama will sign into law tomorrow.  Governor Culver and Attorney General Tom Miller are Democrats, however, and neither plans to file such a lawsuit. 

Two of the three Republican candidates for governor say the State of Iowa should invoke the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution and assert state sovereignty to avoid having the national health care plan go into effect in Iowa. Bob Vander Plaats says the U.S. Constitution doesn’t give the federal government authority to run the health care system.

“Why not leave our Medicare and Medicaid dollars here?  Don’t take ’em to D.C. — that would be novel idea — and let us run the system so we can reward our physicians better,” Vander Plaats said earlier today in Atlantic.  “But then let’s really have personal responsibility.  Let’s have medical savings accounts and true medical liability reform so we stop suing the pants off our medical community.” 

Vander Plaats, a business consultant from Sioux City, called the health care reform plan that cleared congress Sunday night a “monstrosity” that will unleash thousands of I.R.S. agents on American businesses to see whether health care coverage is in place, and imposing new penalties. “We’re competing in an international climate today and you’re handcuffing us,” Vander Plaats said.  “You’re handcuffing and saying, ‘You can’t compete.'” 

Vander Plaats suggested Democrats will rue the day they ignored the will of the people. “I think you have individual moms and dads, citizens, business owners (who) probably never took an interest in politics before who’re saying, ‘Stop the train,'” Vander Plaats said. “‘I want my country back.  I want my freedom back.'”

Rod Roberts, a state representative from Carroll who is also competing for the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination, agrees. “People are paying attention. They’re very engaged in this and there’s more than just passing interest,” Roberts said during a statehouse interview with Radio Iowa.  “I mean I think the public’s captivated and there’s a lot of resentment and a lot of anger that has welled up and I think in 2010 you’re going to see the voters express that at the ballot box in ways that I think will surprise a lot of people.” 

This may be the final week of the 2010 session and Roberts has authored two amendments on two bills to try to force the entire legislature to take a stand on the idea of opting out of the national health care reform legislation. “People are aware and engaged in a way I’ve never seen people pay attention and be informed in my adult life and I think, before we adjourn, we ought to take the question up,” Roberts said. 

Roberts called the national health care reform plan a federal “power grab” and he said the federal governmen thas no business forcing Iowans to buy health insurance.  “I think the legislature ought to take a position,” Roberts said, “and certainly as governor of the State of Iowa, I would sure be looking at that state sovereignty ideal in the 10th amendment  by which you could challenge the federal government.”

Former Governor Branstad, the third candidate seeking the G.O.P.’s 2010 nomination for governor. issued a written statement today, saying legal challenges of the new national health care plan are “timely and appropriate.”  A spokesman for Branstad said there are a “number of different constitutional avenues” that could be pursued beyond a challenged based solely on the 10th Amendment. 

Read more about what the three G.O.P. candidates are saying on this issue here. 

President Obama, by the way, plans to be in Iowa City on Thursday, returning to the place where he launched his health care reform ideas in 2007, when Obama was a candidate for president.

(Additional reporting by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)