Dr. Obama, Heal Thyself
February 3, 2011 by Ben Crystal
Back in December, in my piece Obamacare’s Paper Tiger, I noted that while Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling in Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius inflicted blunt-force trauma to Obamacare, it did not send the behemoth bill to the great bureaucratic beyond. Hudson stopped short of striking down the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; suggesting that the proposed Minimum Essential Care penalty, while clearly an executive overstepping of constitutional bounds, was severable from the rest of the Obamacare bill.
At the time of the ruling, I suggested that Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling in Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services could ultimately be the one which would “…stuff Obamacare back in the Democrats’ pieholes.”
Monday, Vinson vindicated me; ruling that section 1501 (the MEC penalty) is not severable from Obamacare as a whole, voiding the PPACA.
In addressing President Barack Obama’s contention that the government had the authority to force Obamacare on the people through the powers enumerated in the Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), Vinson demurred:
“It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting… that compelling the actual transaction is itself commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce, [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.”
Vinson’s warning is well-taken; or at least, it should be. The statement here is that once Congress takes the stance that inactivity — not buying something — is the Constitutional equivalent of activity — they position themselves as the sole arbiter of virtually any activity; presuming they can draw an economic vertex to it. Taking this concept to its logical extreme, the government could require you to exercise, since fat people tend to place more stress on the healthcare system. Short of that, you might have to step on a scale before you can buy ice cream.
“Sorry, Mr. McBiggenhuge. Your BMI is 26. Put down the Rocky Road.”
The PPACA is the bastard child of the Democrats’ lust for power; and only tangentially related to healthcare. By decreeing that Americans must abide by Obamacare’s tenets — specifically section 1501 — Obama is creating the first tax in history levied against a non-existent transaction. You’re being taxed on a purchase you DIDN’T make.
Or, in the words of the Obama Administration:
“Individuals who choose to go without health insurance are actively making an economic decision that impacts all of us… every year millions of people without insurance obtain health care they cannot pay for, shifting tens of billions of dollars in added cost onto those who have insurance and onto taxpayers."
The President says eat your brussels sprouts; and from now on, you can drive any car you want, as long as it’s a blue Chevy.
While every observer worth his salt was aware that a loss in Vinson’s court would propel Obama to press his case to the Supreme Court of the United States, few suspected that Obama would personally overrule Vinson in advance of his administration’s appeal to the high bench. It’s worth noting that Vinson — according to 208 years of precedent — outranks the President on Constitutional matters in this arena.
Obama advisor Stephanie Cutter said:
"We don’t believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld and we are confident that (Obamacare) will ultimately be declared constitutional by the courts.”
Well, Ms. Cutter, you’re down to your last Court. And if the Supremes find 5-4 against you — a real possibility — then the single biggest moment of Obama’s Presidency will be remembered as a defeat suffered at the hands of the Constitution.
The White House is calling Vinson’s ruling “an outlier,” suggesting that they can continue to force implementation of Obamacare as if Vinson’s ruling was some mock trial judgment. Someone in the White House Counsel’s Office should read United States v Nixon; a case which ultimately concluded with the President boarding a non-stop flight to San Clemente.
Ultimately, Obama’s argument in favor of the PPACA is rendered false by his own hand. As Vinson pointed out in his ruling, back in 2008, then-Senator Obama opposed the idea of an individual mandate. Vinson quoted Obama directly:
“‘If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’”
Mr. President, it’s time for your medicine.