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Monday, January 4, 2010
Kapact's Rant: Don't Tread on We The People
There is nothing in the Constitution that specifically gives Congress the power to require that people purchase a good or service. Insurance is a state concern, and therefore doesn't come in under the laws regulating
interstate commerce, nor is it connected to the authority that Congress once exercised to regulate the speed limit. And our liberal congress members seem to think that they can grant themselves this power. They forget that their power does not come from themselves, or any bills that they propose. Their power comes from We The People. If you'd like to see an example of this shocking mix of ignorance and arrogance, consider that at least two (in fact, many more) Congressional leaders cannot or will not explain where in the Constitution they are given the power to require that people purchase insurance. I have here information from CNSNews.com, quoting, amongst other places, the Conservative Action Project. Here is the information, which really speaks for itself:
Aside from constitutional questions about Sen. Ben Nelson's deal with Democrats on behalf of Nebraskans, conservatives are eyeing the bill's individual mandate the requirement that every American citizen must
purchase health insurance."Mandating that individuals must obtain health insurance, and imposing any
penalty, civil or criminal, on any private citizen for not purchasing health insurance is not authorized by any provision of the U.S. Constitution," says The Conservative Action Project, a group of prominent conservative activists. "As such, [the bill] is unconstitutional, and should not survive a court challenge on that issue." Supporters of the Democrats' health care bill have incorrectly contended that the individual mandate is authorized by the Commerce Clause, the General Welfare Clause, or the Taxing and Spending Clause, the Conservative Action Project said. But since the federal government has limited jurisdiction having only
enumerated powers, unless a specific provision of the Constitution empowers a particular law, then that law is unconstitutional. There is no authorization for the individual mandate, the group said. The Commerce Clause, which allows the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, does not apply to the health care bill, "because there is no interstate commerce when private citizens do not purchase health insurance," The Conservative Action Project said. The Commerce Clause covers only those matters where citizens engage in voluntary economic activity. "Government can only regulate economic action; it cannot coerce action on the part of private citizens who do not wish to participate in commerce," the conservative group said. Nor is the bill's individual mandate authorized under the General Welfare Clause, which applies only to congressional spending. "It applies to money going out from the government; it does not confer or concern any government power to take in money, such as would happen with the individual mandate. Therefore the mandate is outside the scope of the General Welfare Clause." And finally, the Conservative Action Project says the individual mandate is not authorized under the Taxing and Spending Clause or Income Tax. The
Constitution only allows certain types of taxation from the federal government, and the health care bill does fall in those categories.
As for the argument that the health care bill's individual mandate can be compared to laws requiring auto insurance an argument President Obama has made such arguments are invalid: "Only state governments can require people to get car insurance," the Conservative Action Project said. "While the federal government is limited to the powers enumerated in the Constitution, the states have a general police power. The police power enables state governments to pass laws for public safety and public health. The federal government has no general police power, and therefore could not require car insurance." Moreover, states require auto insurance only as a condition for those people who voluntarily choose to drive on the public roads. "If a person chooses to use public transportation, or use a bicycle instead of a car, or operate a car only on their own property, they are not required to have car insurance, and cannot be penalized for lacking insurance."
'Where in the Constitution...?"
In recent months, CNSNews.com has asked various members of Congress where specifically the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate. Many had no idea.
(CNSNews.com) Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would not say what part of the Constitution grants Congress the power to force every American to buy health insurance--as all of the health care overhaul bills currently do. Leahy, whose committee is responsible for vetting Supreme Court nominees, was asked by CNSNews.com where in the Constitution Congress is specifically granted the authority to require that every American purchase health insurance. Leahy answered by saying that "nobody questions" Congress' authority for such an action.
CNSNews.com: "Where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?"
Sen. Leahy: "We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority?"
CNSNews.com: "I'm asking--"
Sen. Leahy: "Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there's no question there's authority. Nobody questions that."
When CNSNews.com again attempted to ask which provision of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to force Americans to purchase health insurance, Leahy compared the mandate to the government's ability to set speed limits on interstate highways--before turning and walking away.
CNSNews.com: "But where, I mean, which"
Sen. Leahy: "Where do we have the authority to set speed limits on an interstate highway?
CNSNews.com: "The states do that."
Sen. Leahy: "No. The federal government does that on federal highways."
Prior to 1995, the federal government mandated a speed limit of 55 miles an hour on all four-lane highways. The limit was repealed in 1995 and the authority to set speed limits reverted back to the states Technically, the law that established the 55 mile-an-hour limit--the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act of 1974--withheld federal highway funds from states that did not comply with it. The law rested on the
Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce, and Congress' authority to dole out federal tax revenue. Someone who does not buy health insurance, critics have argued, is not by that ommission engaged in interstate commerce and thus there is no act of interstate commerce for Congress to regulate in this situation. All versions of the health care bill currently being considered in Congress mandate that individuals buy heatlh insurance. Americans who don't would be subject to a financial penalty.
Attorney David Rivkin Jr., who worked in the Justice Department under both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said that Sen. Leahy's response about the constitutional authority to mandate the purchase of health insurance "is wrong."
"None of Congress' enumerated powers support an individual purchase mandate," said Rivkin. "We have made this case in considerable detail in our recent articles in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Indeed, the Congressional Research Service, an entity that is usually deferential to Congress' prerogatives and prone to take an expansive view of congressional powers, when asked by the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus about the constitutionality of individual purchase mandates could only say that this is a 'novel question.'"
"This mandate can only be based upon a view that Congress can exercise general police powers, a view profoundly at odds with the Framers' vision of the federal government as one of limited and enumerated powers," he said. "If the federal government can mandate an individual insurance purchase mandate, it can also mandate an unlimited array of other mandates and prescriptions, including the mandate to buy health club memberships or even to purchase a given quantity of fruits and vegetables."
"This state of affairs would completely warp our constitutional fabric, vitiate any autonomous role for the states and eviscerate individual liberty," said Rivkin. "It is profoundly un-American."
This is not the first time Congress has considered forcing Americans to buy health insurance. In 193-94, an individual mandate was a key component of then-President Bill Clinton's health care reform proposal.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in a 1994 report that for federal government to order Americans to buy health insurance would be "unprecedented," adding that the government had "never required" Americans to purchase anything. "A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action," CBO found. "The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States," said the CBO report.
"An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government." Although Sen. Leahy said that "nobody" questions that Congress has the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee did question whether Congress had that authority when the health-care bill was being debated in their committee. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) tried to offer an amendment that would expedite judicial review of the bill were it enacted, but Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D.-Mont.) ruled that Hatch's amendment was out of order.
(CNSNews.com) When CNSNews.com asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday where the Constitution authorized Congress to order Americans to buy health insurance--a mandate included in both the House and Senate versions of the health care bill--Pelosi dismissed the question by saying:
"Are you serious? Are you serious?"
Pelosi's press secretary later responded to written follow-up questions from CNSNews.com by emailing CNSNews.com a press release on the "Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform," that argues that Congress derives the authority to mandate that people purchase health insurance from its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. The exchange with Speaker Pelosi on Thursday occurred as follows:
CNSNews.com: "Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?"
Pelosi: "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
CNSNews.com: "Yes, yes I am."
Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told CNSNews.com that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandated that individual Americans buy health insurance as not a "serious question." "You can put this on the record," said Elshami. "That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question."
Later on Thursday, CNSNews.com followed up on the question, e-mailing written queries for the speaker to her Spokesman Elshami."Where specifically does the Constitution authorize Congress to force Americans to purchase a particular good or service such as health insurance?" CNSNews.com asked the speaker's office.
While you can buy votes in Congress (something that once would have shocked even the worst of them), you can't buy them from We The People. This arrogance... this hubris demonstrated by what has got to be the most corrupt government this country has ever known, is not only an embarrasment, it's dangerous. Because while they are waving this smelly (and very expensive) bottle of snake oil under our tortured nose, our enemies are working, and very hard. It doesn't pull our president home from vacation (heck, it didn't
warrant a response for three days!), but it is war, and it is real. If you understand that the Cold War was in fact World War Three, then what we have now, that doesn't interrupt Mister Obama's golf game, is World War Four. Sorry to say (because I try to see the best in everybody), but Mister Obama would react quicker to losing his socialist takeover of the government than he did to someone trying to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day.