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Universal Health Care: Trampling the Constitution

November 1, 2009
 by Austin Raynor


Legislation providing for universal health care is clearly unconstitutional, but those in office seem unconcerned with this reality.

Last week Nancy Pelosi was asked by CNSNews.com, a conservative blog, “where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?” Ms. Pelosi inexplicably replied, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” Immediately afterwards, Nadeam Elshami, Pelosi’s press spokesman, told CNSNews, “That is not a serious question.”

Sadly, it is undeniable that our representatives do not take such questions seriously. Most federal programs and laws currently in effect are unconstitutional. In Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution, the powers of Congress are specifically enumerated. Most of these powers constitute general categories of action rather than specific legislative duties, but none of them even vaguely authorize any program remotely like national health care.

The Tenth Amendment ensures that the enumerated powers are the only powers that Congress shall have, stating explicitly, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

One of the enumerated powers often cited by statists (those who believe in concentrating economic power in the state) to justify unlimited governmental expansion is what is called the commerce clause. This piece of Article VIII reads: “The Congress shall have power…to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

Ms. Pelosi’s office, in defense of the constitutionality of the Speaker’s health care agenda, issued a press release stating that Congress has “broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce. Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life, from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production.” This contention clearly refers to the commerce clause.

However, the Speaker’s claim is made laughable when one considers the fact that health insurance may not legally be sold across state lines. The commerce clause explicitly does not apply to the sale of a product within a single state, which is universally the case with health insurance.

The other clause of Section VIII that statists inevitably make reference to is the portion that reads, “Congress shall have power to…provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” In this case specifically the statists contend that universal health care is part of the general welfare.

But this simplistic reading of the Constitution is untenable; if this clause were intended to allow for unlimited government expansion it would be useless to have a Constitution at all. In 1791, Thomas Jefferson, wary of this interpretation, wrote, “They (Congress) are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare.”

To place all one’s emphasis on this specific clause, while ignoring the rest of the Constitution, would, Jefferson argued, “reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please ... Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them.”

Jefferson concluded, “Let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” With this command, which speaks so pertinently to our current situation, Jefferson surely foresaw the dangers awaiting. But he also diagnosed a problem which many pro-government Americans seem too naïve to consider: that bureaucrats and leaders are just as apt to engage in “mischief” as anyone else is.

Statists often harp on the greediness of the capitalist in calling for greater government intervention. In this case, government is needed to save us from the knavery of the insurance companies. But these citizens forget that those in power are humans like anyone else, and, if anything, the acknowledgement of man’s tendency towards ill-will is an argument for decentralization, and the rule of law, rather than concentration of monopolistic power.

The problem with government is that its power is sustained by brute force. A capitalist may only hold power over people by convincing them to purchase his products. But a bureaucrat holds power at the point of a gun. In the words of George Washington, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” Contempt for the constitution, which amounts to contempt for the rule of law, is a road that has often been tread and which has never led to anything short of tyranny.

Related Content:

A Tax on Business is a Tax on Consumers - Nick Coons
Health Care Debate Rages On - Richard Sutton
Un-American Attacks on Health Care Reform - Nick Coons

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I dont see how Fairtax can work as advertised. I wish it could. For one thing — Fairtax is a tax on the fdearel government, by the fdearel government.This just isn't some novel book keeping technique - Fairtax actually depends on collecting about 300 billion in tax, from the fdearel government, to pay for the fdearel government. Boortz writes the fdearel government itself becomes a major taxpayer Page 148.The fdearel government a major taxpayer? To itself?. That's like the guy who decides he needs to make some big money. So he pays himself 10,000 dollars a day to cut his own grass.Yes, he could write himself a check every day for 10,000 dollars. He can even deposit the check in his own account. But at the end of the month, he won't have 300,000 dollars..Incredibly, Fairtax thinks they will have 300,000. Well — they pretend they have 300 billion. But they won't.For example, when the Fairtax makes the US Navy pay 4 billion in sales tax on a 12 billion dollar aircraft carrier — the Navy can write the check, The Treasury can even deposit the check.But the Treasury isnt 4 billion dollars ahead. The treasury had to issue the money to cover the check it cashed. But Fairtax thinks they are getting that 4 billion -- plus 296 other billions - from making the fdearel goverment a major taxpayer. Because the Fairtax would collect 300 billion less in tax revenue -- it would have to raise the tax rates -- probably to about 35-38%.If that was the ONLY fallacy of the Fairtax -- it would be enough to ruin the idea. But there are more fallacies -- of even greater impact.Another major fallacy — Fairtax pretends it will be able to tax health care. Fairtax looks to tax the 2 trillion dollar health care industry — to the tune of getting people to cough up 460 Billion in taxes on their health care. Will health care patients just pay this 460 billion? If Fair tax CAN NOT collect this tax, — they lose 460 Billion more in revenue, and the tax rate has to go up to 50-50% percent.You decide if people will pay the US government 460 billion dollars in taxes, on their health care. What will a cancer patient do, when just ONE patient gets a tax bill of 40,000 dollars on their surgery, chemo, and hospital bill?What about when 15 million cancer patients open up all their medical bills, and see a 35-40% sales tax on there? Forget the percentages -- when they see 10,000 - 50,000 tax bills, on TOP of their 30,000- 150,000 medical bills?What do you think nursing-home patient will say, or the famlies they see a 25,000 tax, per year, on their nursing home care?What would the parents of an 8 year old leukemia victim say, when they see a sales tax bill of 70,000 dollars, on their effort to keep their child alive?. Suppose further that the parents only make 35,000 a year.Its not like the hospital can waive the sales tax. Its not like insurance is going to pay it.What will people say when they see their bills — second opinions are taxed — lab tests — taxed — ER visits — taxed. Dental care -taxed. Doctor visits — taxed. Knee replacement — taxed. Child birth — taxed. The outcry from these folks will be like nothing US history has ever seen before. Congress would quickly exempt health care expenses from a high sales tax. If any Congressman dared to suggest the parents of a cancer victim should pay a sales tax — they wont be a congressmen very long. So the rate would have to be adjusted up — from 35-40%, to 55-60%My point is — you wont be ABLE to tax health care. The Congerss would exempt it. So thats 460 Billion the Fairtax budget is shy, just from that. And 300 billion shy, just from not being able to tax fdearel government either.Now — what would RENTERS say when they have to pay this 40-60% sales tax, on THEIR RENT?? Of the 40 million renters in the USA - I bet not 12 individual renters know their taxes would skyrocket the moment this bill is passed. And wow, will they have a few words.I could go on — car makers, new home builders, there would be major problems in all markets that are hit by this absurd tax.Fairtax would come up over a trillion dollars SHORT on collecting 2.3 Trillion. It won't work. Im sorry.

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