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A Wakeup Call About Individual Freedom

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

President Obama and congress have made major progress in increasing central power over individual freedoms during President Obama’s tenure in office.  Congress has done it by passing unpopular laws; President Obama has done it issuing unpopular by executive orders.

Two prominent examples are working their way through the governmental system right now.

The first is Obamacare with its many defects. The next congress and President will probably repeal Obamacare. President Obama’s Healthcare Reform Act has already damaged the economy, increased the budget deficit and is destroying the healthcare system.

The Supreme Court will not overturn Obamacare completely. The court is only judging the law on limited issues. The Supreme Court’s decision is going to take at least two years fro the time the bill was passed.

The real issue at stake with President Obama’s Healthcare Reform Act is should the central government have the power to control our lives and our choices.

The states are protesting that the federal government is taking power away from the states.

 Citizens are complaining that the federal government is limiting their rights and freedom of choice.

This conflict has existed throughout American history. America has struggled with the challenge of the balance of power between federal control, states rights and individual rights.

President Obama is a strong advocate of central control. In the process he is trampling states rights and individual freedoms.  He has bypassed congress and by executive order conferred absolute power to administrative appointees.

If the federal government can require people to purchase health insurance, what else can the government force Americans to do?  The government will be able to compel citizens to do any number of things by decree.

President Obama has ignored this basic issue.  Has congress and the executive branch overstepped their constitutional authority?

His administrations’ lawyers have had a difficult time providing a coherent response to the question in court appearances around the country.

Judge Laurence H. Silverman said, Let’s go right to what is your most difficult problem,”

 “What limiting principle do you articulate?” If Congress may require people to purchase health insurance, what else can it force them to buy? Where do you draw the line?

Would it be unconstitutional, to require people to buy broccoli?

Beth S. Brinkmann, the administration’s lawyer said, “No,” then “It depends.”

Judge Silverman asked the next logical question,

 “Could people making more than $500,000 a year be required to buy cars from General Motors to keep it in business?

Beth Brinkman’s response was “I would have to know much more about the empirical findings,”

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh asked,

“How about mandatory retirement accounts replacing Social Security?”

Ms. Brinkmann replied. “It would depend.”

None of these ridiculous responses were published in the traditional media at the time of the testimony. The administration’s lawyers are trying to define its views of the limits of government power. The have not provided constitutional justification for their views.

 “They have said, for instance, that laws authorized by the Constitution’s commerce clause must be economic in nature, must concern interstate commerce and must address national problems.”

I do not think this should be done at the expense of states’ rights and individual freedoms.

The reason President Obama’s Healthcare law requires an individual mandate to purchase healthcare insurance is because Obamacare is not actuarially sound. It might work if everyone pays into the premium pool.

Rather than repairing the healthcare system and its inefficiencies President Obama is adding more revenue to a failing system by mandating everyone to pay into something they do not want. 

In reality, Medicare has failed economically even though seniors are satisfied with the insurance.

Medicare Part A mandates everyone to pay into the system through payroll taxes.  The reason the government had gotten away with the Part A mandate is because Americans had the right to opt out of Medicare Part B.

Another hollow argument President Obama’s lawyers have used is that the health care market is unique.

The administration’s lawyers have suggested,

 “Questions about constitutional limits can miss the point. The only question actually before the courts, they said, is whether the particular law under review was within Congress’s authority. Other cases, they said, can be decided as they arise.”

There are many unintended consequence of Obamacare already. Hopefully, the Supreme Court judges will understand these implications of these unintended consequences. Most important is the precedent the law set for other cases.

In 1995, when the court struck down a federal law that prohibited people from carrying firearms in school zones, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote that “we pause to consider the implications of the government’s arguments” in defending the law — that stopping activities that could lead to violent crime relates to interstate commerce because it affects “national productivity.”

Under that reasoning, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, “It is difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power,” adding that “if we were to accept the government’s arguments, we are hard pressed to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate.”

Many judges are reluctant to issue rulings without some sense of what their consequences will be in other cases.

The outcry about Obamacare has been loud and clear.  Our constitutional government should be government for the people by the people.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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