Obamacare individual mandate could be like how you must pay into Social Security

On Tuesday, March 27, 2012, the United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments regarding the health care bill passed by the current administration.  The individual mandate has been given intense scrutiny so far, but will it be enough?  Some in the United States Supreme Court seem to have different views regarding the role of Government than others.

For instance, Justice Scalia compared the United States Government forcing people to buy health insurance to the United States Government forcing people to buy a certain type of food:

“Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli,” Scalia said”

This writer recognized that some people like broccoli, but this writer is not one of those people.  Regardless of the health aspects of broccoli, this writer tends not to purchase it at the market.  Do you?

Chief Justice Roberts has compared being forced to buy health insurance to being forced to buy a cell phone:

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, the same, it seems to me, would be true say for the market in emergency services: police, fire, ambulance, roadside assistance, whatever.  You don’t know when you’re going to need it; you’re not sure that you will. But the same is true for health care. You don’t know if you’re going to need a heart transplant or if you ever will. So there is a market there. To — in some extent, we all participate in it. So can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services? You can just dial 911 no matter where you are?

GENERAL VERRILLI: No, Mr. Chief Justice. think that’s different. It’s — We — I don’t think we think of that as a market. This is a market. This is market regulation. And in addition, you have a situation in this market not only where people enter involuntarily as to when they enter and won’t be able to control what they need when they enter but when they –

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: It seems to me that’s the same as in my hypothetical. You don’t know when you’re going to need police assistance. You can’t predict the extent to emergency response that you’ll need. But when you do, and the government provides it.

One wonders what else the United States Government could force its citizens to buy.  There are just and moral arguments to this discussion, but the fact remains there are people who will refuse to be forced to buy anything.

One wonders how many people argued when the United States Government forced people to contribute to Social Security.  Despite the growing number of people who consider Social Security to be a Ponzi scheme, many now rely on it.  The fact remains the United States Government now considers it regular practice to take money from your paycheck to pay someone down the street who is over a certain age. The United States Government promises to do the same for you when you reach that age.  Government sanctioned theft was fought when it reached the United States Supreme Court in 1937.  Ken Schortgen, another Examiner points out:

In the now famous Helvering v. Davis Supreme Court case, which centered on the governments right to impose a tax on businesses that was not strictly enumerated in the Constitution as a power granted to Congress, the IRS intervened to stand in for the Edison Electric Illuminating company against a shareholder who argued that the government did not have the power granted to take equity from a business, thus affecting his shareholder value.

On May 24th, 1937, the Supreme Court ruled on Helvering and two other cases and for the first time, soldified the power of the Federal government to impose legislation and taxation on businesses and individuals under the Constitutional umbrella of providing for the ‘General Welfare’ of the citizenry.

In other words:

These three rulings, with Helvering v. Davis primarily leading the way, opened the door for future Federal government mandates upon states, businesses, and individuals under the guise of providing for the general welfare.  The court implied that only the Federal government, and not the states themselves, have the capacity to take care of the citizenry as a whole in providing widespread programs that can be construed as meeting the requirements of the general welfare clause.

Despite rumors that a loss here would be good politically for the Democrats, this health care debate is extremely important on a deeper level.  If the United States Government can force you to purchase health care, what else can they force you to purchase for your own good?  There is an obesity epidemic and broccoli is healthy…

6 thoughts on “Obamacare individual mandate could be like how you must pay into Social Security”

  1. Depending on how Obamacare is struck down it will have a huge impact on government behavior and its relationship with citizens. It might even drive a wedge under the political third rail of Social Security, but that rail will not be so easily affected.
    Social Security fits better in the Car Insurance category than the Health insurance category. We are mandated to purchase car insurance IF we drive. We are mandated to pay into Social Security and Medicare IF we have re portable income. Whereas with health care we would be mandated to pay for it BECAUSE we exist.

    It is a great point though that Obamacare would probably be completely unthinkable today if we had not been living under Social Security for so many decades. If Obamacare stands we can expect more government overreaches in the future once we have become complacent enough to have forgotten that the government is in fact overreaching.

  2. Many, like Ken Cuccinelli (Virginia’s Attorney General and the first to file a lawsuit against Obama Care), are explaining that if the government can make you buy health insurance, it can make you buy anything.

    That doesn’t really capture the situation.

    If Obama Care’s individual mandate is constitutional, THE GOVERMENT CAN *MAKE* YOU DO ANYTHING. The legal analysis for why the individual mandate is said to be constitutional is that your decision to *NOT* buy health insurance may have an EFFECT on interstate commerce, even though it is not in and of itself interstate commerce. Furthermore,

    So the government can *MAKE* you DO anything that the Congress CLAIMS will have an effect on interstate commerce. Note that if Congress writes “findings” (whereas) at the beginning of the law, the courts will accept those findings as true. So if the law starts out with “The moon is made of green cheese” the courts will simply adopt that factual “finding” as true, even if the judge’s let slip their personal disdain and disagreement with the statement. Even if the judge or justice is rolling his eyes with disgust (I am using hyperbole to make a point) the court will still feel obligated and hand-cuffed into accepting the factual finding as true.

    So if the Congress simply CLAIMS that you doing or not doing something will have some indirect EFFECT on interstate commerce, the argument goes, the Congress can regulate your behavior.

    In the Obama Care individual mandate, you are commanded to *ENSURE* — that is to THINK ABOUT — that you and your dependences have the minimum level of health insurance (which is more complicated than that sounds, because HHS gets to decide what kind of health insurance qualifies, what kind of health insurance you must buy, and that can change over time).

    So the Obama Care “individual mandate” commands you to THINK: Thought control. You are commanded to go through a mental calculation, first for yourself and then separately for *EACH* of your dependents, to determine whether or not you are complying with the minimum coverage requirement. You have to determine who qualifies as your dependents (which in the case of divorce, etc., may require some legal analysis as to WHICH parent is responsible in this context), what level and type of insurance you already have (which may involve multiple sources, such as each spouse’s employee insurance, supplemental insurance, catastrophic medical care insurance, etc.) and then decide “DO I NEED TO BUY MORE?”

    So Obama Care regulates your THOUGHTS, not just your purchases. You are not only commanded to buy health insurance. But the task of deciding whether or not to buy more health insurance is placed on your shoulders.

  3. Furthermore, the Congress expands on the enumerated powers by an over-use of the “necessary and proper” clause. So something that does not qualify as interstate commerce is regulated under the guise of being “necessary and proper” to regulating interstate commerce.

    TO use an extreme example (but yesterdays’ extreme example tends to become today’s norm), suppose Congress enters a factual “finding” that people’s opinions about brand names impacts interstate commerce. Therefore, they pass a law that requires you to report anyone making a negative comment about a product or company because that is “necessary and proper” to regulating interstate commerce.

    However, the precise wording and original context and original meaning of the “necessary and proper” clause is vastly more narrow than what is commonly understood today. As practiced today, the Congress can do whatever it wants by stretching the “necessary and proper” clause.

  4. “Whereas with health care we would be mandated to pay for it BECAUSE we exist.”

    No, you would be mandated to pay for it BECAUSE everyone, even the uninsured, is entitled to medical treatment under current law. If you want to go to battle over whether people deserve medical treatment, have at it.

  5. So according to current law Obamacare did not expand medical treatment to anyone, they were already entitled to it, and this was merely an attempt by the Federal Government to change how it is paid for, not who receives it.
    Interesting.

    No one is making an arument against American citizens having access to healthcare. Millions of Americans are making the argument against being mandated (compeled) to pay for health care that they do not receive or need via an individual health insurance mandate.

  6. Art. I., Sec. 8., gives Congress the power to tax. Social Security was crafted as a tax, the mandate penalty wasn’t. So many people wrote the bill that one hand didn’t know what the other was doing.

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