Key to Barack Obama’s health care plan is one simple thing: everyone will be required by law to purchase health care insurance. Failure to do so will result in “fees” which, if not paid, could result in penalties of up to $25,000 or one year in jail. And it gets better, because the failure to pay the penalties would be considered felony tax evasion, and that could result in a fine of up to $100,000 and up to five years in jail. (Source)
Scary? Absolutely! But the more important question is whether or not the federal government may constitutionally order private citizens to purchase health insurance (a misnomer if ever there was one). True, Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce, but the legal eagles are in a quandary over the government’s attempts to control personal behavior. As constitutional attorney David Rivkin put it:
“What’s unique about [this] is the mandate imposed on individuals merely because they live. Not connected with any economic activity, not because they grow something, make something, compose something. Merely because they live. And this is absolutely unprecedented.”
In 1993, Congress itself, in reviewing a similar mandate in the Clinton administration’s health care proposal, called such a requirement “unprecedented,” adding that “[t]he government has never required people to buy any good or service, as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.” Strange that things change so dramatically in so short a time. Stranger still that the meanings of the words in the Constitution have changed yet again, though the words themselves remain unchanged.
What’s your take? Does the Constitution, under the commerce clause, have the power to order all Americans to buy health insurance, whether or not they need or want it?