Last week, while presiding over a hearing in which attorneys representing Florida and nineteen other states challenged Obamacare’s individual mandate as unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson asked government lawyer Ian Gershengorn the following question about congressional power:
If they decided everybody needs to eat broccoli because broccoli makes us healthy, they could mandate that everybody has to eat broccoli each week?
Gershengorn told the judge that the health care market has special qualities that somehow necessitate the mandate: “It is not shoes, it is not cars, it is not broccoli.” However, as I point out in my latest piece for the American Spectator:
This answer manifestly failed, of course, to address the point. The judge wasn’t inquiring about economics or the dynamics of any particular market. He was trying to get Gershengorn to talk about constitutional limits on the power of the central government.
The hapless Mr. Gershengorn is by no means the only progressive who fails to understand what these lawsuits are about. Over at the Health Affairs blog, William Pewen has similar difficulties grasping what is really at stake here:
While strict constructionists claim the individual mandate ‚Äúregulates inactivity,‚Ä? their assertion is disconnected from the reality of the health care market … How many individuals are born at home without medical care, never receive an immunization or medication, and die without so much as an ambulance trip to an emergency room?
Again, the number of people who receive immunizations or go to the ER has absolutely nothing to do with the central question raised by the Florida and Virginia lawsuits. The question is as follows: How much power does the federal government have over our daily lives? Can it order us to buy things?
The perversity of the contemporary progressive never fails to amaze me. During the 1990s, these very people were cheering on a government jihad against a for-profit corporation with stockholders and and board‚ÄĒ-Microsoft. Today they want the goverment to deliver us into the clutches of Aetna.
And¬†it isn’t merely a “claim” that the mandate regulates inactivity.¬†¬†There is not a single¬†precedent in which the Supreme Court has¬†upheld¬†Congress’¬†interpretation of¬†the commerce clause.¬†That’s why the¬†DOJ has had to¬†resort to precedents in which people have been prohibited from engaging in ACTUAL activities.
As to the “reality of the health care market,” anyone remotely literate in economics should be able to see that ObamaCare¬†will raise costs, reduce access and lower quality. That will remain true regardless of whether the Supreme Court acquiesces in the crime against democracy known as the individual mandate.