It turns out that Senator Ben Nelson isn’t merely a vote-peddling roundheel. He is also profoundly ignorant about the Constitution. When asked which part of the that document authorizes the individual insurance mandate, he delivered himself of the following:
Well, you know … probably the same place that states have the authority to require, mandate if you will, compulsory auto insurance liability insurance.
Well, as it happens, the Constitution grants states the “authority to require” drivers to buy liability insurance in the “same place” it circumscribes the authority of Congress. Congress, a every school child was once taught, is limited to specific “enumerated” powers:
A bedrock principal of the American republic is that … the national government is limited to the enumerated powers “herein granted” to it by the Constitution. Thus, states may craft numerous regulations for the protection of their citizens which are beyond Congress’s power.
Someone needs to tell the Nebraska Senator that the founders deliberately limited the powers of the national legislature for the explicit purpose of protecting us against people like him. As to the auto insurance analogy, there are at least three other reasons why it doesn’t work:
Automobile insurance requirements impose a condition on the voluntary activity of driving; a health insurance mandate imposes a condition on life itself.
State auto insurance requirements are limited to those who drive on public roads. The public roads are mostly constructed, owned, and maintained by the government.
States require drivers to maintain auto insurance only to cover injuries to others. This mandate does not require drivers to insure themselves.
So, Nelson is as ignorant on the constitutionality of mandates as he is of basic ethics. Not that Nelson or his Democrat accomplices in the Senate care about any of this. They are no more interested in the the Constitution than they are in the will of the voters. They just want your money.