With the passage of the “Health Care Reform” bill (HCR), a number of states have filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the bill. The basic claim is that the federal government is forcing private citizens to buy a product (insurance) from corporations. Forcing this type of personal behavior lies outside the powers allotted to the federal government by the constitution … so the claims go. I think perhaps the we should be Socratic in handling this one.
Can the federal government pass a law that requires me to buy a product from another private individual ? (Sure, they can pass the law – but is it within the bounds of the constitution?) If you say “no” to this, then let me ask you another question. Suppose the product in question costs $1000 even. Can the federal government charge me a $1000 tax every year, and use that money to buy the product and give it to me? It’s hard to see how this is any different than the former condition, the money just follows a different path. We must conclude that the path is irrelevant and the answer here must also be “no”.
Fine, well what if the federal government taxes the citizens in varying degrees (by age, income, relative health, birth month, height … you name it) and then pays out $1000 to a private vendor to provide a product to every citizen? Is this unconstitutional? If the first and second conditions are unconstitutional, it is hard to see how varying rates of taxation now make this within the powers ascribed to the federal government in the constitution.
What if there was no product involved at all? What if the federal government were to tax the populace in varying degrees (maybe this time by shoe size) and payout $1000 to every individual? Constitutional? Nothing new here that would suggest so. What if the payouts were not equal to all people, but varied (perhaps by alphabetical order of last name when written in pig-Latin). Constitutional? Why would this be more within the bounds of the constitution? It’s not a hard document to read – you should try it some time.
The ugly truth: ALL federal payout schemes to the citizens are UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The federal government is not expressly given the right to take from one and give to another by the constitution. Welfare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, and so much more – all extra-constitutional, all outside the bounds of powers expressly designated to the federal government.
Now, a side note is in order. You may argue that these are good programs. Fine. We won’t address that in this post. Maybe they are. The question isn’t about merit or morality, but whether or not they are consistent with the constitution. They are not. If you want them to be then we have very clearly defined mechanisms for AMENDING the constitution.
So, why have all of these programs been given a pass? Well, to quote a famous president, “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”. The progressive-packed supreme court has claimed for years that a small phrase in the constitution – “to promote the general welfare” – is a blank check for the federal government to do whatever it wants. As long as a reasonable claim can be made that the law intends to “promote the general welfare” then it gets a pass. This is utter drivel and nonsense. This is how fascism rises. “Hey, we’re doing it for your good” – yeah right.
So, I’m very glad to see state-level lawsuits over this issue. The states are right (not that I expect the court to give any hearing to their case). I’d hope that these lawsuits open the flood gates. That states demand exemption from “unfunded” federal mandates. That states demand the federal government stop taxing state residents to pay benefits to residents of other states (or pork-projects in other states). I only wish the states had woken up decades ago. Those of us who prefer freedom and the rule of law have been crying foul for some time. Maybe our day has come.