On Tuesday the House voted on whether to attach to a small business jobs bill an amendment that would have repealed the wholly unconstitutional “individual mandate” portion of the Democrats’ health care law. The individual mandate, in short, legally forces every American to buy health insurance from private companies, under threat of a government fine.
Aside from the harmful effects such a measure will have on small businesses, employer-based health insurance, and the economy as a whole, the individual mandate is fundamentally unconstitutional, for two reasons.
- Even under a loose interpretation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, Congress cannot legitimately punish you for not engaging in private commerce! If you don’t buy health insurance you can’t afford or simply don’t want to buy, there is no commerce. With no commerce, there is nothing for Congress to regulate.
- The “fine” you have to pay for not buying insurance is collected by the IRS. In other words, it is a tax, imposed on the basis of an unconstitutional requirement (per our first point above). Such abuse of the citizen cannot stand. As Reagan Justice officials David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey point out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “a tax that is so clearly a penalty for failing to comply with requirements otherwise beyond Congress’s constitutional power will present the question whether there are any limits on Congress’s power to regulate individual Americans.”
Twenty-one (largely Southern) House Democrats joined with all House Republicans save one to pass this measure and uphold the law. Sadly, our own John Hall was not among these twenty-one brave Democrats. The repeal effort was defeated, 187-230, and the Constitution – and you – lost out to John Hall and Nancy Pelosi.
Watch the video to hear Nan’s personal take: