The Seattle Times is one of the most liberal news outlets in the country, so when it runs an editorial supporting Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna’s challenge of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, you know the public relations gambit for Obama’s most significant piece of legislation is not going so well:
The main challenge here is on one point — whether the federal government can require people to buy a private product: health insurance.
The argument centers on the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause, which gives Congress the power “to regulate Commerce … among the several States … ” The lawsuit argues that requiring a citizen to buy insurance goes beyond regulating commerce. It is, says McKenna, “forcing people into the stream of commerce.”
The law calls its mandate a tax. But if you comply, your money goes to the insurance company. You pay the government only if you don’t comply — which means, McKenna says, “It’s not a tax. It’s a fine.”
We think McKenna has a good case, and one the progressives who condemn him ought to appreciate.
The Seattle Times editorial board is absolutely right to highlight that last point. Progressives like the idea of a federal mandate right now because a progressive congress and president are issuing it. However, if the federal government has the power to force you to buy health insurance, it has the power to force you to buy anything it chooses. Progressives need to consider how they will feel when that power is in the hands of a conservative congress and president, which just might be the case come January, 2013.
I especially appreciate that the Times criticize progressives for supporting ObamaCare on purely political grounds:
These critics are so often right about the dangers of corporate power, and particularly the rapacity of insurance companies.But if it’s federal power, and it’s for a social purpose, and Barack Obama is presiding over it, they set their judgment aside. They accept a 2,000-page bill on its label only. They accept its promise, almost surely vacant, of cost savings. They overlook the deals cut with the insurance and pharmaceutical interests. They shrug off the “cornhusker kickback.” And to those who invoke the Constitution, they become shrill.
This page supported Obama, and we still like him. But we also support checks and balances on federal power, and review of this law by the Supreme Court.
The Seattle Times is hopefully the first several more liberal news outlet to write honestly about the dangerous precedent ObamaCare’s mandate set.
The folks at iOwntheWorld are optimistic that ObamaCare can be overturned in court, and if you look at the law and the Constitution objectively and honestly, the only conclusion you can come to is that the mandate is clearly unconstitutional. The problem the AGs will run into, however, is the make up of the various courts as the case moves through the court system. A progressive judge who supports universal health care will turn himself inside out to find an argument that the Constitution supports the mandate. History bears this out. Take abortion as an example. The Constitution does not say anything about a right to privacy, but Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the opinion for Roe v. Wade, said he found it in the “emanations” and “penumbras” of the Bill of Rights. If you are wondering what emanations and penumbras are, you’re not the only one.
Even though the seven justices who ruled for Roe v. Wade could not find specific language in the Constitution supporting the right to abortion, they wanted there to be a right to abortion and that was all that mattered.
Cross posted at KimPriestap