Noxious Greenhouse Gases on Federal Power and Obamacare



Over at Opinionator, Linda Greenhouse of the NYT has a post expressing bewilderment at how anyone could urge the repeal of the individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act. At base she avers that those arguing against the constitutionality of the individual mandate are neo-Confederates who forget that, in her words, “the Civil War is over.”

Greenhouse offers this glimpse into her thought process:

I have a confession to make. I can describe the legal arguments and judicial conclusions, but on a fundamental level, I just don’t get the attack on the federal law. . . . I don’t get the moral compass of the owner of a fancy car the other day that sported the bumper sticker “Repeal Obamacare,” I suppose the self-satisfied and oh-so-secure car owner never met anyone like the healthy 27-year old man profiled the other day in USA Today who was denied health insurance in the private market because his doctor four years ago had ordered a particular heart-monitoring test–which found nothing wrong with his heart. . . .

She further scoffs at the idea that Virginia should have been allowed access to federal court to litigate the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, which declares that no resident of the state should be required to purchase health insurance.

Greenhouse and her leftist colleagues have no conception that government power can be a dangerous thing–especially national government power that is far removed from the people. Greenhouse might want to think about the national government’s treatment of the American Indian, Japanese internment in WWII, free-speech rights in wartime (e.g., the Sedition Acts), and all the “collateral damage” to civilian populations in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are but a few examples of egregious and wide-spread tyranny of national actions.

But, by focusing on these, maybe she can see where opponents of Obamacare are coming from. If the national government is granted the unprecedented power to make Americans purchase a commodity, what will be off limits?? Will there be any constitutional barrier left for the people to point to and say “Congress, here you must stop and go no further”? Perhaps this is the concern of the “self-satisfied” man in the “fancy car.” (Linda, did you ever stop to think that this man might have studied and worked hard and actually earned this vehicle that you begrudge him driving?? Or is your perfect world one in which we all drive Trabis with a DDR sticker on the back?)

Greenhouse is correct that the North won the Civil War and that the the national government’s power, via the 14th Amendment, was augmented. However, the 14th amendment has zero impact on the Commerce Clause, which means the same thing today as it did in 1787. Greenhouse obviously does not like it, but the national government remains one of enumerated powers. Unless Congress can point to a specific power in Article I, section 8, it cannot act. This is hardly as neo-Confederate position, but one embraced by the advocates (North and South) of ratification of the Constitution.

Dear readers, next time you peruse a Greenhouse article on some decision of the Supreme Court, keep in mind her “confession.” You’ll have no trouble parsing her language to discern exactly what she wants you to think about federal power.

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