The Danger of the Individual Mandate

Georgetown University Law Professor Randy Barnett provides a succinct explanation of what’s wrong with the Obamacare individual mandate:

Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine that I tell you 100 things that you may not do tomorrow. For example, you cannot run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. While your liberty would be restricted, there would still be an infinite number of things you may still do.

Now suppose I tell you 100 things that you must do tomorrow. You must run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. These 100 mandates could potentially occupy all your time and consume all your financial resources.

You can see why economic mandates such as the individual mandate in Obamacare are so much more onerous than either economic regulations or prohibitions, and why so dangerous an unwritten congressional power should not be implied.


Be sure to read the whole thing.

The Health Insurance Mandate and the Constitution

 

One of the more controversial provisions of the recently-enacted health insurance reform bill is the mandate for all individuals to purchase health insurance. But as Randy Barnett points out in a op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, the mandate isn’t likely to pass constitutional muster:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) includes what it calls an “individual responsibility requirement” that all persons buy health insurance from a private company. Congress justified this mandate under its power to regulate commerce among the several states: “The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section,” the law says, “. . . is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce, as a result of the effects described in paragraph (2).” Paragraph (2) then begins: “The requirement regulates activity that is commercial and economic in nature: economic and financial decisions about how and when health care is paid for, and when health insurance is purchased.”

In this way, the statute speciously tries to convert inactivity into the “activity” of making a “decision.” By this reasoning, your “decision” not to take a job, not to sell your house, or not to buy a Chevrolet is an “activity that is commercial and economic in nature” that can be mandated by Congress.

It is true that the Supreme Court has interpreted the Commerce Clause broadly enough to reach wholly intrastate economic “activity” that substantially affects interstate commerce. But the Court has never upheld a requirement that
individuals who are doing nothing must engage in economic activity by entering
into a contractual relationship with a private company. Such a claim of power is
literally unprecedented.

Professor Barnett also co-authored a more detail analysis of the individual mandate found here. He also wrote an excellent analysis on the constitutionality of the legislation here.
 
ObamaCare was passed with little regard for the constitutionality of its provisions. Although there is a popular move to repeal the bill the more likely dismantling of the law will come through the courts. With Justice Stevens retiring, the President’s Supreme Court nominee takes on a new importance.

Digging My Grave

This has to be one of the most clever anti-Obamacare ads I have seen yet:

Source

Goodbye, Freedom

If government healthcare reform passes, then we can kiss our freedoms goodbye according to Judge Andrew Napolitano:

Congress recognizes no limits on its power. It doesn’t care about the Constitution, it doesn’t care about your inalienable rights. If this health care bill becomes law, America, life as you have known it, freedom as you have exercised it, and privacy as you have enjoyed it will cease to be.

Last week the House of Representatives voted on a 2,000 page bill to give the federal government the power to micromanage the health care of every single American. The bill will raise your taxes, steal your freedom, invade your privacy, and ration your health care. Even the Republicans have introduced their version of Obamacare Lite. It, too, if passed, will compel employers to provide coverage, bribe the states to change their court rules, and tell insurance companies whom to insure.

We do not have two political parties in this country, America. We have one party; called the Big Government Party. The Republican wing likes deficits, war, and assaults on civil liberties. The Democratic wing likes wealth transfer, taxes, and assaults on commercial liberties. Both parties like power; and neither is interested in your freedoms.

Think about it. Government is the negation of freedom. Freedom is your power and ability to follow your own free will and your own conscience. The government wants you to follow the will of some faceless bureaucrat.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Flu Vaccine Shortages and Government Healthcare

A new ad will begin to run nationally today that makes the case that the government has no business getting any further into running healthcare given how they’ve handled the H1N1 flu vaccine shortage (as well as sending vaccine to Gitmo detainees before American citizens) (hat tip: Michael Goldfarb):

It’s a great ad and makes a very salient point. For all the talk about how widespread the H1N1 pandemic was supposed to be, the government sure seems to have been caught woefully unprepared in developing sufficient supplies of the vaccine. The ad reinforces what we already know: everything government does is going to be far less efficient and far more costly than they say it will be.

Two Different Views of Healthcare Reform

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi insists that she is going to get a vote on healthcare reform over the weekend but one has to wonder what she thinks she is going to accomplish. According to the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, there are some Democrats who are questioning the wisdom in pushing ahead especially in light of Tuesday’s election results:

It’s one thing to be serene under fire, it’s another to be delusional.

More than a few Democrats in Congress are perplexed and worried that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is insisting on ramming through a 1,900-page health care bill on Saturday, just days after her party took heavy losses in Tuesday’s elections. “It reminds me of Major Nicholson, the obsessed British major in the film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai,'” one Democrat told me. “She is fixated on finishing her health care bridge even as she’s lost sight of where it’s going and what damage it could cause to her own troops.”

Indeed, the Speaker’s take on Tuesday’s off-year elections struck some of her own members as delusive “happy talk.” “From our perspective, we won last night,” a cheerful Ms. Pelosi told reporters, citing her party’s pick-up of a single House seat in a New York special election and retention of another strongly Democratic seat in California.

That’s not how many of her own troops see it. Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama told Politico.com that members are “very, very sensitive” to the fact that the agenda being pushed by party leaders has “the potential to cost some of our front-line members their seats”

On health care, added New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell: “People who had weak knees before are going to have weaker knees now.”

Meanwhile, Republicans have outlined their own common sense and no-cost reform proposals that actually reform the health insurance system rather than turning the whole thing into another gigantic government bureaucracy.

Speaker Pelosi might just get her wish and see her bill pass the House. Chances are that even if she succeeds to keep enough Democrats together to pass it the bill will undergo vast changes in the Senate. More importantly, passage of a massively complex healthcare bill may fufill Democrats’ dreams of government healthcare but it will likely cause so many of their members to lose seats that they could be in the minority for many years to come. The key question will be how many Democrats are willing to risk political suicide for the sake of passing this bill. My guess is not many.

Responding to Obama’s Health Care Speech

I had been working on a lengthy post responding to the President’s health care speech and then ran across this column by Shikha Dalmia that makes my case better than I could so I’ll just encourage you to read it instead.

Healthcare Reform Hypocrisy On End Of Life

Ever since former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made her “death panel” remarks on Facebook, President Obama has repeated as often as he can that the government in the proposed health care reform plan would not “pull the plug on granny”.

However, there is one agency responsible for healthcare of a certain segment of the population¬† whose actions directly contradict the President’s rhetoric (Hat tip: The Corner):

If President Obama wants to better understand why America’s discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA’s National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, “Your Life, Your Choices.” It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA’s preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated “Your Life, Your Choices.”

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

“Your Life, Your Choices” presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political “push poll.” For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be “not worth living.”

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to “shake the blues.” There is a section which provocatively asks, “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug’?” There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as “I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family” and that the vet’s situation “causes severe emotional burden for my family.”

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

This just goes to show in judging where the President stands on different aspects of health care reform that it might be better to pay more attention to his actions than his words.

White House Sending Unsolicited E-Mails – Is That A Problem?

Things got a little testy at today’s White House press briefing when Fox News’ correspondent Major Garrett asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about unsolicited e-mails being sent to people who about healthcare reform:

The e-mail itself is not problematic. The White House is using this means of communication to get its message out to concerned voters. But the problem is somehow the White House is getting a hold of people’s e-mail addresses. I don’t have any idea how David Axelrod got my e-mail address. I don’t publish the address anywhere on purpose. I don’t want just anybody to have access to my e-mail address. I’ve never e-mailed the White House or sent anything to their flag@whitehouse.gov address because I don’t want to give that information to them. But it appears they managed to get it somehow anyway.

The irony here is that if David Axelrod paid any attention to anything I’ve read so far about healthcare reform he would quickly figure out that I am opposed to the President’s proposals.

So the question remains: how is the White House getting folks e-mail addresses and is the privacy of individuals being violated? Just how much information does the White House have and, more importantly, what are they going to do with it?

Where We’re Heading in the Healthcare Debate

I agree with Glenn Beck that we haven’t reached the point where eugenics is being implemented as a matter of policy. However, when you look back at history, you understand the dangers that lie ahead in the health care debate. Click on the video below to see the whole story:

Healthcare Reform Is Coming! No, Wait, It Isn’t!

Two different headlines from the same day illustrate the fundamental issues of the healthcare reform debate:

Blue Dog Democrats Announce Deal on Healthcare Reform


Key Senate Aide: Healthcare Reform Deal Not Imminent

The real reason that there is no quick solution coming is threefold: no one can agree on what exactly needs to be reformed, no one can agree on a solution, and the government is trying to provide the solution.

First, what needs to be reformed? It all depends on who you ask. Talk to a liberal Democrat and they will tell you that we need to have universal health insurance. Or that we need to do something about the uninsured. Or that we need to reduce the influence that insurance companies have over medical decisions.

Talk to a conservative Republican and they’ll tell you we need to get the government out of the business of providing health insurance (or at least streamline the current programs). They’ll tell you that we need to eliminate waste in Medicare. They’ll also talk about reducing overall costs.

Who’s right? There’s an element of truth in both sides of the argument. But there is no consensus on exactly what issue(s) need to be reformed thus the wide disagreement on how to solve the problems.

This brings us to the second point which is that without agreement on the problems you can’t find consensus on solutions.

To make matters worse, President Obama is running around pitching a plan without specifics. No one really knows what his proposed solution might be or what he thinks the extent of the problem really is because he doesn’t come right out and tell anyone. He’s been acting as if people will just do what he wishes because he asks them to. Perhaps he would be better served to slow down, listen to all sides in this debate, and figure out what the right steps are to take rather than trying to cram his agenda down the throats of voters. If polls are any indication, voters do not like what they are hearing from the President.

Finally, there is the issue of government involvement in the delivery of health care. Despite the fact that it has been proven repeatedly that government cannot fix every problem, Democrats still want to have government take over health care. Voters do not like that idea and understand what a disaster such a system would be. Most of the proposals so far make the government bureau overseeing health care look like the Office of Circumlocution from Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit:

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving–HOW NOT TO DO IT.

While the news channels may drone on about how healthcare reform is about to be passed it doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon. The longer the debate drags on the better as it is far better to stick with the current system we have no matter how flawed it may be rather than to rush through a package that will only make the situation far, far worse.