It's been two years and the Obama administration, its apologists on the professional left, Congressional statists and assorted liberals and left-wingers still haven't answered this question: If the federal government can require Americans to buy health insurance, what limits are there to its power? Even if it could answer that, it would have to answer the logical follow-ups:
What will it require us to buy next? How is commerce then defined if doing nothing now is commerce? Who then decides what goods and services are proper and essential to buy?
But not to get ahead of ourselves. The Obama Justice Department has steadfastly and cautiously avoided the predicate question in the several lower court arguments in which it has engaged. After today's warm-up act arguments on the late 1800s Anti-Injunction Act (whether the case even has standing until a tax or penalty is levied), it won't have a choice in avoiding the question as it defends Obamacare in full tomorrow and Wednesday in near-historically-unique three-day hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. It pretty much comes down to that question, because it isn't a case about health care. It's a case about liberty, one that gets straight to the constitutional text itself. Mike Brownfield of The Heritage Foundation provides an excellent overview of what to look for, the consequences of a decision either way, and the conclusions to expect at its The Foundry Blog's Morning Bell. In part, he writes:
If the Court upholds the mandate, America will be in the same position it finds itself today — facing a law that vests untold power and resources in the hands of the federal government, that transfers health care decision making from individuals to unelected bureaucrats, and that increases costs while decreasing access. In short, America’s health care crisis will get worse, not better, and future generations will be left paying the tab. What's more, if the Court allows the individual mandate to stand, it will unhook Congress from its Constitutional leash, empowering it to regulate commerce and individual behavior in new ways never before imaginable.
More than, that, though, is at stake. It's an issue not widely discussed concerning Medicaid and a complete submission of the states to the Leviathan's will at the expense of a forced financial destitution:
There is another issue, too, tied to Obamacare, and that has to do with Congress’s decision to impose new requirements on states forcing them to expand the Medicaid program and abide by the federal government’s conditions, leaving them to shoulder much of the costs while operating Medicaid according to Washington’s whims. If the states don't comply, they could lose all Medicaid funding, putting them in an untenable position in which both their autonomy and their sovereignty collapse under Obamacare’s weight. It is up to the Court to decide whether Congress overstepped its bounds.
Coincidentally, another of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's hot button issues flared up earlier this month and came into full focus over the weekend — death panels. A House committee voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (aka, Death Panels) with bipartisan support (see Paul Kaminsky at The American Spectator).
While that vote didn't receive much press from the Mainstream Media (surprise!), death panels were all the talk after news broke that former Vice President Dick Cheney, at age 71, underwent a heart transplant. After all, the left complained, someone younger should've got the heart. He didn't "deserve" it. He "didn't wait long enough" (he waited 20 months, a little longer than average).
When critics of Obamacare raised concerns over bureaucrats making life and death decisions, the left vilified them as paranoid and scare mongers, and that the only people advocating them were odd balls with no credibility. That, we suppose, did not include the left's favorite economist, Paul Krugman, who gladly embraced death panels on ABC News in late 2010 (see video). It must not include Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News' medical expert, either. She lays out the "moral" case for denying Mr. Cheney his life saving transplant, as Kyle Drennen at NewsBusters.org reports. Here's the new Dr. Death (or Death Panel Queen) in her own words:
Death panels? Not on their life. But the left does want to pick who else lives and who dies.