Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why Health Care Reform Is Constitutional

Richard Cordray and Tom Miller, Iowa and Ohio Attorney Generals, had contributed an article to Politico explaining why they won't follow the lead of numerous other Republican attorney generals and file states' rights suits against the federal government for health care reform.
Congress has the authority to regulate anything that affects interstate commerce “among the several States.” This is bolstered by the supremacy clause, which explicitly makes the Constitution and the laws of the United States “the supreme Law of the Land” for all Americans.

For Congress to have the power to pass this legislation, therefore, the health care problem need only affect interstate commerce. It clearly does.

Health care now accounts for one-sixth of our gross domestic product. The costs of health insurance pose fundamental economic challenges to the competitiveness of our American common market.

We need only look at the existing Medicaid and Medicare programs to see that this issue is national in scope. If the commerce clause authorizes Congress to prohibit the cultivation of marijuana for personal medical use because it has economic effects, as the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich, then surely it authorizes Congress to regulate health care.

The “individual mandate” now drawing so much attention mimics a law already on the books in Massachusetts — a law broadly accepted and never invalidated by the courts.

And there is a good reason for that requirement. When an uninsured person ends up in an emergency room needing urgent and expensive treatment, someone has to pay for it — through either higher premiums or higher taxes — and “we” are that someone.

That is also why state laws require many millions of Americans to have car insurance — a few irresponsible citizens should not be allowed to heap the costs of their behavior on the rest of us.

For those who contend that the states alone can address these kinds of insurance problems, their logic condemns us, forever, to an unsatisfactory “patchwork quilt” of conflicting provisions and mixed results.

Yet this is why our Founding Fathers rejected the anemic Articles of Confederation as inadequate and authorized Congress to legislate on matters of interstate commerce — and then made the laws supreme, despite any state laws to the contrary.

We live under mandates every day. Without them, society as we know it would disintegrate. Every criminal law tells us what we cannot do.

And sometimes the law tells us what we must do. Congress can require young Americans to register for the draft to serve in the military, for example, or can require us all to pay taxes for programs like Social Security and Medicare.

We can — and do — argue about what shape these laws should take, without claiming that our leaders are constitutionally barred from dealing with our most pressing problems.

Instead of pursuing lawsuits, we should work to find ways to improve the lives of the American people and protect our four most fundamental freedoms: of speech, of religion, from want and from fear.
I thought this article to be easy to digest. I found their example involving car insurance to be relevant (I have used the same argument previously), and I thought the reference to President Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech was well placed. I was just thinking of this speech yesterday when I was in a record shop and saw an album containing famous speeches of the century.

Conservatives claim to be fiscally responsible, yet they would like to sit on a broken system that encompasses a large portion of our economy and then waste state resources fighting something they deem wrong, when their fights are politically motivated to begin with, and with no legal basis, other then some quotes from the Constitution taken out of context. Every time I hear Republicans or teabaggers complain about the constitutionality of the legislation, I get the feeling that they would be happier with the Articles of Confederation, which I was glad to see Cordray and Miller bring up in their piece.

This legislation is here to stay, so maybe conservatives should concern themselves with better things, like not sticking their heads in the sand and coming up with solutions to America's problems.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts and experiences in relation to this post. Remember to be respectful in your posting. Comments that that are deemed inappropriate will be deleted.