Attorney Generals Challenge ObamaCare; New Health Care Law Increases State Budget Deficits, Imposes Marriage Penalties
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and a dozen other attorneys general have filed lawsuits challenging the new health care law signed by President Obama. Cuccinelli rightly argues that Congress lacks the power to force people to buy health insurance under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which only gives it the power to regulate interstate commerce, not to force people to buy products they don’t want.
As a news story notes, in Supreme Court rulings issued in 1995 and 2000, “the high court said the commerce clause is limited to economic activities that substantially affect interstate trade.” (I was an attorney in the latter ruling, United States v. Morrison (2000).) As UPI notes, “the weight of Supreme Court jurisprudence seems to favor a Commerce Clause challenge” to the health care legislation.
Earlier, Senator Orrin Hatch argued that the “individual mandate” in the healthcare bill legislation, which forces people to buy health insurance, is unconstitutional. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum likewise questioned whether it is constitutional to force people to do so. McCollum and other attorneys general, like Washington’s Rob McKenna (R) and Louisiana’s James “Buddy” Caldwell (D), are now challenging ObamaCare in court as well.
This so-called “individual mandate” is unprecedented and appears to exceed Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. As the Congressional Budget Office noted in 1994, “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”
The individual mandate does not regulate activities, much less economic activities, but rather inactivity, by penalizing those who decline to buy health insurance. That exceeds Congress’s poers under the Supreme Court’s Morrison ruling, as I explained earlier.
The health care legislation also contains potentially unconstitutional racial preferences for minority applicants, and lower standards for treatment of patients in predominantly-minority institutions. These drew criticism from the Civil Rights Commission.
ObamaCare discriminates against married people, containing massive marriage penalties. If you get married, your income will be hit by ObamaCare’s increased tax rates a lot faster than if you just live together without getting married. Under the bill, you will give up your right to federal health care subsidies at a lower income level if you are married than if you are an unmarried couple. For many “low-income and middle-income couples, it could mean a hike of $2,000 or more in annual insurance premiums the moment they say ‘I do.'” (While Obama won the 2008 election, he narrowly lost among married people.). The new tax on investors is a classic example of the marriage penalty, since it kicks in at a lower income level if you are a married couple than if you are an unmarried couple.
ObamaCare would also impose many middle-class tax increases, such as taxes on uninsured individuals, on cosmetic surgery, on medical devices, and on certain health care plans.
Governors of both political parties assail the health-care bill as a job-killer that will drive up state deficits, increase taxes, and harm the economy. The governors of New York and California warned that “their states will be crushed by billions in new costs.” Virginia’s governor says the new law will cost Virginia at least a billion dollars.
Tax experts say it would dangerously expand the power and responsibilities of the IRS. The new version of the health care bill increases cuts to Medicare Advantage by billions of dollars.
The Washington Post falsely claims that the CBO says the health care bill will save $1.2 trillion over its second decade, but the CBO says the figure is not from it (it’s from congressional Democrats). Amazingly, the CBO, under orders from Democratic leaders, has understated the bill’s cost for the first decade by including the present fiscal year — in which ObamaCare is not yet law and thus has no costs — while excluding its last year from cost calculations. The result was to reduce the projected price tag for the bill from $1.2 trillion to $940 billion.
While the CBO has scored the health care bill as not increasing the federal deficit, thanks to the many tax increases in the bill, it has done so only by accepting many accounting gimmicks that even pro-Obama journalists have admitted conceal the bill’s enormous cost and the fact that it will massively increase the deficit. The New York Times‘ David Brooks, once a staunch Obama supporter, now says the bill’s drafters were “corrupted by power” and calls arguments for the bill “unbelievable” and “insane.” The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle, who also voted for Obama, says that the bill “is a fiscal disaster waiting to happen.”
The Congressional Budget Office, which would not question Obama’s gimmicks to lowball the cost of his health care plan, nevertheless admits that “President Obama’s policies would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.”
There are $3,000,000,000,000 in tax increases in Obama’s budget. But he’s spending money at such a furious pace that the deficit will skyrocket anyway: “The president’s budget would borrow 42 cents for each dollar spent in 2010,” and “double the national debt over the next decade.” Obama recently ran up the largest budget deficit in history, by a huge margin.
ObamaCare would reduce medical innovation, raise taxes, drive up insurance premiums, and break campaign promises. It would cut the quality of care, while imposing restrictions that failed when tried at the state level. It ignores advice from experts about how to cut costs.