Over the weekend, George Will brought up an interesting point on ObamaCare: under the principles and Constitutional rationalizations of the Affordable Care Act, are there any limitations on the government’s power over the individual? The rationales put forth by the backers are twofold:
1) The decision of whether or not to have private health insurance affects interstate commerce, and so justifies federal interference. Indeed, the decision to NOT have it is, in and of itself, a form of interstate commerce and inaction is a form of action.
2) Because uninsured people may end up needing very expensive care that they may not be able to afford on their own and will be needing public assistance, the rest of us — through the government — has the right to protect ourselves from this potential liability by compelling everyone to carry health insurance.
This raises some very troubling questions. Under these principles, pretty much any kind of behavior can be banned — or compelled — regardless of the wishes of the individuals. It demands both negative and positive controls — not only does it tell us what we can not do, but compels us to do other things.
Under these rules, there are literally no limits to what the government can do — as long as enough people get together to get Congress to pass it.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Will’s example is a good one — overweight people must sign up for Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. This is perfectly in line with ObamaCare, as it coerces individuals to engage in an act of private commerce in the interests of decreasing health care costs for the rest of us.
Women on welfare — they’ve already demonstrated that they cannot support themselves financially. They have an obligation to the rest of us to not increase the financial burdens they impose on us? Mandatory birth control as a condition of receiving public assistance.
Fast food restaurants — we’re already seeing this. Apparently offering the public what they want is a bad, bad thing. Giving people the choice of quick, convenient, but not overly healthy food is tantamount to kidnapping people and forcing them to eat poison.Why can’t we just ban foods that don’t meet certain health standards?
Smokers — it’s far overdue to get rid of all tobacco products. The costs they impose on all of us is simply more than we should bear. (This will also put a huge dent in government spending, which every year makes a huge killing (no pun intended) on tobacco taxes, but It’s For The Common Good.)
Gun ownership — crime is a real problem. We all have not only the right, but the duty, to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and our property. Therefore, we all should be required to own at least one gun. And, naturally, we will all have to undergo proper training and be certified in gun safety.
There are just a few. Anyone else want to toss out other ways that the government can, using the principles behind ObamaCare, demand anything that it wishes of individuals?
Or, alternately, explain why ObamaCare is constitutional, but my above examples are not?