As the summer wears on, this will become the first in a series of posts detailing the administration’s legal arguments (hopefully, in plain English), explaining why the government believes Obamacare is constitutional.
On March 23, the State of Virginia filled suit against the federal government alleging that the law is unconstitutional because Obamacare violated a previously enacted Virginia law which said that no resident of Virginia could be compelled to purchase insurance. On May 24, the federal government filed its initial legal arguments in support of Obamacare.
Beginning on page 30 of the government’s memorandum you will find a remarkably circular argument that appears to define virtually everything this administration does. It goes like this.
Congress, under its power to regulate interstate commerce, has the power to regulate the provisions of insurance policies sold nationwide. Thus, Congress has the power to mandate that all insurance policies insure anyone who applies, regardless of their physical condition, and, at a premium no greater than a healthy person of the same age would be charged. According to the government, this is the:
[a]ct’s larger effort to regulate the interstate business of insurance”. (See, page 30)
From that stepping off point, the government next argues that because insurance companies will now be required to accept “all comers”, many people will postpone the decision to purchase insurance until they become sick. (See, Massachusetts) Thus, to prevent this from happening, the government must also mandate that all Americans purchase insurance, or pay a tax. (Yes, it’s now called a tax, not a penalty.)
So, Congress creates the dilemma of far more people than now “freeloading” until they become sick, and then solves the self-imposed dilemma by mandating that all buy health insurance.
This is akin to your child breaking a window in your house while playing baseball, and then demanding a bigger allowance in order to pay for the broken window.
I’d hate to have to be the one arguing that point before a federal judge.