Guest Column: Obamacare – More than just health care

Brendan Pringle

Twenty-seven states have officially filed lawsuits against it, and more than half of Americans favor its repeal. Now, it’s the Supreme Court’s turn to give its opinion on Obamacare and decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s most recognized “achievement.”

Amidst all the hype, this unpopular piece of legislation might not even be constitutional.

Aside from the basic question of whether or not the Supreme Court can hear the case (based on the Anti-Injunction Act), the primary question before the court is a simple one: Does the minimum coverage provision of Obamacare exceed Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce?

The left will continue to cite precedents such as Wickard v. Filburn and the more recent Gonzalez v. Reich as case law justification for the controversial legislation. Wickard, for instance, determined that Congress could regulate the amount of crops an individual farmer grew simply because it affected interstate commerce in the aggregate. The same precedent applied later to those cultivating and using local non-medical marijuana (Gonzalez v. Reich).

While these two cases and others expanded the latitude of Congress’ interstate commerce power, they fail to align entirely with the unique nature of this particular case.

The individual mandate in question does not only permit Congress to “regulate” a new area of interstate commerce; it actually forces individuals “to engage in commerce” so they can be better regulated. Once it takes effect in 2014, any individual who refuses to purchase a “government-approved level of health care” will face a financial penalty.

According to the legislation, the concept of a contract is outdated and unnecessary. Why is there any need for freedom of contract when the federal government can simply force people to enter a commercial agreement, and then regulate them accordingly?

Paul Clement notes in his brief on behalf of Florida and the other states represented in this case: “The power to compel a person to enter into an unwanted commercial relationship is not some modest step necessary and proper to perfect Congress’ authority to regulate existing government intercourse. It is a revolution in the relationship between the central government and the governed.”

And as we have seen in the decades of expansion following New Deal legislation, this can be a very slippery slope, setting dangerous precedents for federal government power.

If one is familiar with the Patriot Act, it becomes obvious we can’t ignore the fact that this legislation deals with the health and well-being of Americans. As Solicitor General Donald Verrill rightfully notes, “No one is more than an instant from needing health care.”

But there are better (and more financially sustainable) ways of ensuring universal health care in the U.S. Contrary to what the media constantly feeds us, the Republican position on Obamacare is “repeal and replace” — not “repeal and relax.”

From the earliest debates, Republicans have advocated a “more market-based” health care reform through a “defined benefits” structure. Taxpayer-supported health insurance imminently leads to “un-needy” people taking advantage of the system. This has already happened to our welfare system. Do we really want it affecting everyone’s health care as well?

Of course, for the sake of expediency, the left ignored conservative solutions during the debates and squashed all resistance as it forced the bill through the legislation process. Still today, the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge any conservative alternatives to Obamacare.

We have already witnessed the ridiculous arguments stemming from this bill’s passage.

Suddenly, free contraceptives are a human right (obviously, this is what the Founding Fathers must have intended with the phrase “pursuit of happiness”), and proponents treat pregnancy as if it were some sort of disease. This legislation leaves far too much room for manipulation by its beneficiaries and by the federal government.

If the Supreme Court severs the individual mandate or decides the entire legislation is unconstitutional, Congress will have the opportunity to consider more effective and less imposing methods of ensuring the health of our nation’s people.

If our health care system doesn’t get fixed soon, it will be the cause of its own demise.

Mustang Daily, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo via UWIRE.