Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Debating the Mandate

Althouse has a link to a Senate hearing on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Perhaps Congress should mandate everyone to watch it. Or would that be an overreach? Hey, maybe Congress themselves should have done this before passing the bill via reconciliation. We already knew this was in there.

I actually watched it all the way through, pausing a few tens of times. But I feel versed on both sides now. Here are my cliff notes:

Democrats largely behaved (aside from Franken, who showed his ass yet again). Their main points were 1) people will suffer while these GOP pinheads challenge our great leader's fantastic program, and 2) hey, maybe that Florida judge overreached and exercised judicial activism, just as our great leader said.

Fortunately this was a panel not to be toyed with. There were three who believed the Obamacare mandate was constitutional, and two who didn't (the Dems sneakily got a Reagan administration appointee to be their main arguer, along with a former Marine). None of them took kindly to being pigeonholed by either side, which was nice.

But as to the Dem points, the first was standard fare boilerplate for such hearings and was completely ignored. The second item was mildly spanked down by both the GOP Senators and almost all the panelists, in a civil manner, of course.

Senator Blumenthal also tried to make the point that the judiciary should presume that Congress is passing constitutional laws in the first place while deciding their business, added to by chairman Gulag Durbin who reminded everyone that Kay Bailey Hutchinson called a point of constitutional order or somesuch before the vote, which I guess he figured was enough to make it constitutional or something (maybe he shares a view of the document with his state colleague Hare). The panelists poo-poo'd that as well.

The most persuasive argument to me was that if the mandate passes muster then Congress could later compel all citizens to purchase other things. Using the vegetables example, they could not force someone to eat four servings of broccoli per day, but perhaps they could force one to buy four servings a day. Or they couldn't force you to go to the gym, but to buy a gym membership, etc.

None of them touched much on the issue of waivers for religious reasons or whether illegal aliens will be forced to participate in the mandate and if so, how that could be legal, but all in all it was well worth the time invested in watching.

2 comments:

Mustang said...

I don’t know AC … you proclaim the individual mandate was in the bill when the president signed it, but didn’t candidate Øbama emphatically state that he opposed an individual mandate? Could Øbama have misspoken about that? I do agree with you that it might have been better had members of congress actually read the bill before they passed it, but have you considered that this could be an unreasonably high expectation for members of congress?

Senator Reid recently asserted seniors have a right to free well care checks. I found this an amazing revelation, but only because I am a senior reasonably familiar with the US Constitution (I was there when they wrote it), and I do not recall a single provision offering free wellness checks for seniors. Still, I understand how watching this would be entertaining; I often flip back and forth between C-SPAN and the Cartoon Network.

A.C. McCloud said...

Mustang, in all seriousness I expect an elected official to not only be familiar with everything in the bills they vote for, but also convinced of its constitutionality. Especially one of such monumental status.

But I'm not naive enough to expect a pack of clowns to do so.