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Jewish World Review
Dec. 24, 2009
/ 7 Teves 5770
ObamaCare: Freedom on Life Support
Ignore, for the moment, the ludicrous claim that giving 30 million
Americans health insurance actually lowers the
cost of health care. What happened to freedom, to the opposition to an
intrusive federal government?
Ask a liberal what he most dislikes about the "right"? "I resent the
attempt to tell me how to live my life," he'll say. He'll mention
abortion and say that the decision belongs to a woman and her doctor.
He'll mention same-sex marriage and say that government should not
prevent two people of the same sex from marrying, especially if one
objects based upon religious grounds. He'll argue that a Supreme Court
"stacked" with right-wingers threatens his liberty.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gives liberals hot flashes. He is
religious. He calls the Constitution a "contract," not a "living,
breathing" document on which one can discover or project nonexistent
rights. He is a "strict constructionist," or an "originalist," who
believes that the literal words in the Constitution have meaning. He
thinks his job is to figure out what the original Framers meant, not
what he would like them to have meant.
Ask a liberal how Scalia and those who share his "conservative"
philosophy think the Supreme Court should decide issues like abortion,
same-sex marriage and doctor-assisted suicide? He'll say, "Scalia would
impose his religiously based worldview on society anti-same-sex
marriage and anti-abortion because the federal government should
always preserve life."
No, Scalia would not. In fact, Scalia has publicly said these issues are
none of the Court's business. He's said that however he feels personally
about these contentious matters, the Constitution gives the Court
neither the authority nor the expertise to decide them and such
matters are ideally left to the states.
This brings us to ObamaCare.
What words in the U.S. Constitution allow the federal government to
compel every American to purchase health insurance? Where does the
Constitution allow the federal government to take money from some
Americans and give it to others so that they may purchase health
Recall the anger at former President George W. Bush, who, to fight the
war on terror, "trashed" and "shredded" the Constitution. The same
people who railed against the Patriot Act, the terror surveillance
program and "illegal" torture happily unleash the power of the federal
government to redistribute wealth for ObamaCare, a socially desirable
objective. Never mind the absence of authority in the Constitution.
The left tells us that "health care is a right, not a privilege." Surely
the Constitution says so. No, it does not. Article I, Section 8 details
the limited power, duties and responsibilities of the federal
government. Extracting money from your paycheck and giving it back to
you when you retire Social Security? Not there. Taxing workers to pay
for the health care of seniors Medicare? Not there. Mandating that
employers pay workers a minimum wage? Not there.
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This is not hypothetical. During the Great Depression, the Supreme Court
struck down much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal on
constitutional grounds. No, said the Court, the federal government cannot ) use the Constitution's commerce clause to
regulate virtually all economic activity. No, said the Court, the
federal government cannot use the welfare clause
to redistribute wealth, whether or not it accomplishes a socially or
economically desirable objective.
The Court asserted that the Constitution meant what it said and said
what it meant. This infuriated FDR. He threatened to expand the number
of Court justices, adding jurists who saw the Constitution the way he
did until he got the kind of decisions he wanted. Intimidated, the Court
blinked. Actions by the federal government that the Court once had
deemed illegal suddenly became permissible.
A liberal once asked me: "What should society do about the poor? Is your
attitude 'just (expletive) them'?" I said: "Allow me to rephrase your
question. Because of someone's plight, is he entitled to money from you?" "No," he said, "but it's the right thing to
do." Yes, a moral, compassionate society cares for those who cannot care
for themselves. This is, however, an entirely different matter from
using the power of government to take from someone who has, to give to
someone who doesn't. The Constitution does not provide that authority.
Nor has it been amended to do so.
What about the poor? Through economic freedom and competition, we make
goods and services cheaper, better and more accessible. Health care is
less affordable because of well-intentioned rules
and regulations. When government officials go beyond passing laws to
protect us against force or fraud, they raise costs and hurt the poor.
Finally, what of charity? Americans are the most generous people on
earth. The religious and those who believe in limited government are the
most generous of all. By design, the federal government plays a limited
role. The rest is up to us. Our country was founded in opposition to
tyranny by government.
Today we submit to it.
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