Obama’s Version is Not Your Father’s Constitution

Since the President and the Democrats kicked off the healthcare debate in early 2009 the political left and the establishment media have sneered dismissively at those of us who insisted the Constitution did not authorize Congress or the Executive to assume the new powers in ObamaCare.

We won’t know for sure until June, but based on the reaction of Supreme Court justices to oral arguments last week it now appears a bit more likely than not that the Court will rule that the individual mandate is Unconstitutional and may even void the entire law.  Predictably there is outrage from the Left.  President Obama made some remarks to the Press that some have interpreted as an attempt to intimidate the Justices.  He began:

The justices should understand that in the absence of the individual mandate you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people wit a pre-existing condition can actually get health care.

This is simply not so.  There are mechanisms in place and people who are currently uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions do receive health care every day.  There are government programs including Medicaid.  Federal law requires all hospitals to treat anyone who shows up, without regard to their insurance or ability to pay.  Finally, there still is what used to work pretty well before the politics made the federal government the dominant force in health care, medical services provided to the needy and the uninsurable by churches and charities.

For example, The Shriners Hospitals for Children where some of the most intractable and expensive childhood maladies are treated without charge and without any government assistance are entirely funded by donations.  Families are not billed for services to their children.  They voluntarily donate whatever they feel they can afford, which sometimes is nothing and rarely is more than a tiny fraction of the actual cost of the care their children receive.

There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the American health care status quo to be sure.  Almost everyone wants it to be reformed in some way.  But the streets are not littered with sick and injured people unable to access care.

The President continued with his remarks directed at the Justices of the Supreme Court:

There’s not only an economic element to this and a legal element to this but a human element to this and I hope that is not forgotten in this political debate.

Actually, this is no longer a “political debate,” or at least it shouldn’t be.  The Court’s job is to rule on Constitutionality.  Be assured he won’t call it “political” if the Court rules in his favor.

Obama’s term “Human element” refers only to the humans he intends to be direct beneficiaries of his health care leviathan with the expectation that they will forever vote Democrat.  When he says “human element” he is not thinking about:

  • the humans who will lose their employer-provided health plans, the plans he promised at least 100 times they could keep.
  • the humans who will  be forced to close their small businesses, due to the costs and requirements of ObamaCare
  • the humans who will lose their jobs and/or be unable to find jobs because employers are hesitant to risk capital with the threat of yet unknown healthcare costs and mandates.
  • the humans who will be paying a higher cost for health insurance in order to fund new, unwanted mandates cooked up by Obama’s political appointees in the bureaucracy.
  • human physicians who will lose their autonomy and become subject to new restrictions and bureaucratic controls.

President Obama continued:

Ultimately I’m confident that this supreme court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.

Well, the first time the Supreme Court overturned a law passed by Congress on Constitutional grounds was in 1803.  Since then the Court has ruled that scores of laws were Unconstitutional and overturned them.  By claiming that overturning his health care law would be unprecedented Obama shows either that he is appallingly ignorant or he believes we are.

His term “strong majority” indicates that either his memory is failing or he thinks ours is.  In 2010 Democrats had huge majority in the House of Representatives, one of the largest ever.  Yet ObamaCare passed by only seven votes, 219 – 212.  Every Republican and 97 Democrats voted against the measure.  In the Senate ObamaCare got 60 votes, the minimum required to pass.  Some of those Senate votes were openly bought and paid for with special concessions and kick-backs to certain Senators’ home states that were not given to other states.

The day after these remarks the President was challenged by a reporter’s question:

Mr. President, you said yesterday that it would be ‘unprecedented’ for a Supreme Court to overturn laws passed by an elected Congress. But that is exactly what the court’s done during its entire existence. If the court were to overturn the individual mandate, what would you do, or propose to do, for the 30 million people who wouldn’t have health care after that ruling?”

Obama answered very slowly and haltingly, seeming to find it difficult to put his thoughts into words:

We have not seen a court overturn [pause] a [pause] law that was passed [pause] by Congress on [pause] a [pause] economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce. A law like that has not been overturned [pause] at least since Lochner, right? So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal.

Lochner was a New York State labor law that was brought to the Supreme Court and overturned as Unconstitutional.  It was not a federal law and is thus irrelevant to the current controversy.

“The point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws and all of us have to respect it.  But its precisely because of that extraordinary power that the court has traditionally shown restraint … so the burden is on those who would over turn a law like this.

So is he saying that because the court has the authority to declare a law Unconstitutional it should not do so?  Actually, the “burden” is on those who would defy the Constitution with the claim that it grants Congress and the President, in Nancy Pelosi’s words, “unlimited power” over every American’s health insurance and access to health care.

The very idea of unlimited power was repugnant to the authors of the Constitution.  Unlimited power was exactly the outcome they sought to prevent.  If the court upholds ObamaCare, if the Justices agree Congress has the authority to compel every person to purchase a health plan whose terms and coverages are dictated by the Executive Branch then the 236 year American era of individual freedom under a government of limited powers will have ended.

2 Comments so far

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