Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Purchase Your Boccoli

The LA Times argues here that the Obamacare individual mandate is constitutional. Let us dissect the argument.

LA: The Constitution's commerce clause doesn't give Congress the power to force people to buy something against their will...That may be a fine boundary to set for lawmakers...but....

Me: Actually it is a fine boundary, already set. Thank you to our founders.

LA: Congress did not cross that line in the Affordable Care Act. That's because the mandate isn't merely an attempt to regulate the purchase of insurance. It's a vital part of a larger scheme to overhaul the healthcare industry, including the way medical services are delivered and paid for.

Me: So as long as an unconstitutional law is part of a "larger scheme," the requirements of our constitution no longer apply? Really, don't you folks at the LA Times have anyone capable of producing a better argument? Can I be required to purchase broccoli so long as it is only a mere part of a "larger scheme" to overhaul the food industry?

LA: There's no question that healthcare is a form of interstate commerce subject to regulation by Congress. Nor is there any question that the adults subject to the individual mandate participate in that market, whether it be buying aspirin at a drugstore, visiting a doctor for a checkup or rushing to an emergency room for treatment.... The individual mandate affects how people pay for the care they consume, but it doesn't force them into the healthcare market — they're already there.

Me: Well, you are already in the news and opinion business. Would you hold such a view if you were mandated to pay dues to the John Birch Society as part of a "larger scheme" to regulate the news business? On a more serious note, it is true that health insurance is a subset of the health business. But so are breast implants and sex reassignment surgery. Would it be OK to mandate prepayments for those services? You name the product and I will rationalize the forced purchase of said product as part of a "larger scheme." Is there anything our government can't force us to purchase, according to your reading of the constitution? The power to force purchases is the power to destroy is it not?

LA: In that sense, what's at stake isn't Americans' cherished "right to be let alone." It's whether they'll continue to be stuck in a system in which millions of uninsured people force those with insurance to pick up at least part of the tab for their visits to the emergency room and for the untreated diseases that they spread.

Me: So a system in which people are forcibly required by government to purchase health insurance and thereby pick up a part of the tab for others is better than a system where health care consumers pick up the tab for the uninsured. Why is that better? A wash at best.

LA: Shut up.

Me: No you shut up.


Anonymous said...

no, U shut up denis.

Sean Cranley said...

I know it's not Con protocol, but let's start with an accurate and honest description of the "mandate". It does NOT require anyone to purchase insurance. It taxes you for a portion of the public's cost for your future healthcare if you don't act responsibily and choose to insure yourself. Last time I checked, Congress was within it's constitutional perogative to levy taxes. By all means Denis, keep talking.

Denis Navratil said...

Well, I will admit that I haven't read the 2700 page monstrosity known as Obamacare, but I am reasonably sure that the bill itself did not describe the penalty for not buying insurance as a tax. And I am 100% certain that President Obama insisted, during George Stephenapolous interview, that it was not a tax. If you, like the administration, now want to claim it IS a tax, then be sure to admit that President Obama was lying during the GS interview.

And your assertion that Congress has the power to levy taxes is true. However, when only those who do not purchase a particular product are "taxed", well, it looks to most individuals to be a penalty. Is there a difference between a penalty and a tax Sean? If so, can you explain the difference to me? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

shouldn't all government mandates be banned then, like mandated auto insurance?

Anonymous said...

President's lying....omg, let's go back to the previous administration, that's a good place to start rattling off untruths....

Denis Navratil said...

There is no federal mandate to purchase auto insurance and your second point is not relevant to the question of whether or not President Obama lied about Obamacare.

Anonymous said...

The state of wisconsin mandated auto insurance for all registered vehicles in the state of wisconsin. It is illegal to drive in the state of wisconsin without auto insurance.

How is this not a government mandate?

Sean Cranley said...

Denis asked, "Is there a difference between a penalty and a tax Sean?"

Is a fine a penalty? Yes. Is it a tax? No. At least it shouldn't be, but tell that to the police who've been known to use tickets and confiscation as a funding source.

Is a special tax on cigarettes or alcohol (gasoline?) a tax? Yes. Is it a penalty for using a dangerous product? I suppose so. It's a tax/penalty that can be avoided by taking responsibility for one's own potential/avoidable healthcare costs.

Is the money you have to pay if you don't get health insurance a tax? Yes. Is it a penalty? I suppose so. It's a tax/penalty that can be avoided by taking responsibility for one's own potential/unavoidable healthcare costs.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, I like the Socratic method also. How is it that you don't understand the difference between a state and a federal mandate, or apparently its significance to this discussion?

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, yours is a truly frightening misunderstanding of our constitution. Truly according to you there would be no limits whatsoever on what the government could force us to do if they can tax whatever activity, and now, inactivity, that they want. The inactivity being taxed here of course is the decision not to purchase health insurance. Of course then the government could tax the non-reading of books, the non-purchase and consumption of broccoli, the decision not to donate money to the ACLU, or the decision not to abort a child. Of course this taxish penalty hybrid of yours could be avoided if we act in lock step with the demands of our betters. So much for freedom but clearly you never cared much for that anyway.

Sean Cranley said...

Denis, you refer to the government as "they". Who are "they"?

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, why do you ask questions when the answers are obvious? Government is comprised of a small percentage of elected individuals and a large percentage of unelected appointees, bureaucrats etc...
And your point is?

Sean Cranley said...

My point is obvious. It's not "THE" government, it's "OUR" fricken government!

If our supposed "democratic-republican" form of government does not represent We The People, then how are we fricken "free" and what good to us is the Constitution?!

You know the whole informed-self-determination thing.

And by the way, don't you dare speak the lie that I don't care about freedom and think yourself a moral actor. It's your twisted, selfish, everyman-for-himself concoction of "freedom" that's the lie.

Obama and the dems were freely and fairly elected with a mandate for the platform to, FINALLY after all this time, reform our broken healthcare system. They constructed a better (yet imperfect
) solution than the corporatist GOPsters who have NO PLAN, but to pander to the profiteers.

Two judges have ruled the mandate portion to be "constitutional" and one, not. We'll see how that small part of the measure shakes out with the robed reactionary political Hactivists on the SCROTUS (supreme court reationaries of the united atates).

But reagardless, the rest of obamacare (as you call it) is major progress.

But perhaps Boner and McChinless want to stand before the American people an argue for the return of privateer death pansl exclusions for the pre-existing conditions of our children. Family values? Heh.

RepubliCon values disgust me! These aren't the values you're looking for. Come away from the darkside.

Anonymous said...

well said sean.