Columns / Discourse / October 2, 2013

Debating Columnists: Disregarding the Constitution, economic distress

The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is like an onion. As you begin to analyze Obamacare, it’s obvious something stinks. By the time you get to its core, you are crying uncontrollably. No, these are not tears of joy. They are tears for both the blatant disregard of the Constitution and tears for the economic harm that the Affordable Care Act will bring.

However, onions aren’t inherently awful, tear-inducing vegetables. With all the flaws of Obamacare come a few diamonds in the rough. An example that is especially pertinent to the readers of this piece. The Affordable Care Act allows college students to stay on their parents’ health care plan until the age of 26. This change in policy allows college students and other dependents across the country to have one less thing on their minds while still adjusting to adulthood.

One must not look at Obama’s legislation starry-eyed. Many economic experts have gone on record as saying that Obamacare will hurt our economy, an economy that is so desperately struggling to get back on its feet. This new law, if implemented, will levy $1 trillion in taxes over the next 10 years. In addition, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the Affordable Care Act will cause millions of Americans to drop out of the labor force.

A serious flaw in Obamacare is the ability of companies to skirt the law. It may cost between $8,000 and $15,000 annually for companies to provide healthcare for their employees. However, companies may pay a measly $2,000 penalty for each employee for whom they choose not to provide coverage. Thus, employees will be placed into Medicaid, a program originally designed for the poor and disabled.

The issue of employees being forced into Medicaid is by no means a trivial matter. Medicaid is co-managed by each individual state, and the states account for Medicaid costs in their annual budget. Forcing this upon the states is just another example of the unconstitutionality of Obamacare.

It is abundantly clear, when one reads the Constitution, specifically the Tenth Amendment, and the numerous court cases in the history of our country, “that there are structural limits upon federal power — upon what it can prescribe with respect to private conduct, and upon what it can impose upon the sovereign States. Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, they cannot be such as will enable the Federal Government to regulate all private conduct to compel the States to function as administrators of federal programs.”

The (in)famous case of Wickard v. Filburn, which held that the activity of growing wheat — even if the wheat was not for sale and was being used exclusively by the farmer on his or her farm — was a form of interstate economic activity. This 1942 case was seen as the furthest the federal government would be able to infringe upon the rights of the citizens.

By allowing the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court is saying that the federal government has the ability to regulate and punish someone who “doesn’t grow wheat,” because his or her non-activity might somehow affect interstate commerce. The implications of this decision are far reaching and should be horrifying to any advocate of republican government.

Ultimately, though, the citizens of the United States have spoken, and they are overwhelmingly against Obamacare. Most believe it will have a negative impact on healthcare and even those for whom Obamacare is designed feel negatively about the policy change.

Charlie Harned

Tags:  Affordable Care Act america economy government healthcare insurance obamacare pre-existing price shutdown standard

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1 Comment

Oct 03, 2013

You bring up the 10th Amendment but fail to touch upon a few other important issues. How can you say that Obamacare is an egregious violation of the Constitution when Congress is allowed to regulate interstate commerce, (and do everything “necessary and proper” in order to do so). Health is interstate commerce, it isn’t a service provided for oneself by oneself, it is a commercial interaction. On top of that the supremacy cause ensures that laws regulating interstate commerce essentially are supreme law of the land, state law has no standing if the federal government makes a law pertaining to interstate commerce.

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