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Yesterday, the residents of the state of Missouri overwhelmingly voted in favor a referendum which will nullify the new healthcare law forced through Congress by Democrats. The measure, named Proposition C, invalidates one of the most crucial aspects of President Obama's healthcare reform legislation. It cancels out the President's individual mandate which forces every citizen to purchase health insurance regardless of whether he wants it or not. The referendum passed with the support of an astonishing 71 percent of voters.
After the initiative passed, State Senator Jane Cunningham (R) stated:
My constituents told me they felt like their voices had been ignored and they wanted Washington to hear them. It looks to me like they just picked up a megaphone.
An analysis of final the results from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office shows just how disconnected Washington's elites are from mainstream Americans:
According to the Secretary of State’s office, a total of 667,680 Missouri voters backed Proposition C. Of those 667,680 voters, 577,612 cast ballots for one of nine Republicans in the state’s Senate primary. Another 3,502 voters cast ballots for one of two Libertarian candidates running for that party’s Senate nomination. A total of 1,883 voters cast ballots among three Constitutional Party candidates running for Senate. And a further 39,998 voters did not cast ballots in ANY party’s primary for Senate, yet still voted on Proposition C statewide referendum. That is a total of 622,995 voters who fall into one of the four categories listed above. That means that at least 44,685 Democrats voted FOR Proposition C, and thus AGAINST the imposition of President Obama's individual mandate to purchase health insurance.
Maybe that is because Missourians of all political parties realize that such a mandate would stretch the bounds of federal power so far beyond its prior constraints that its implementation is in fact unconstitutional. As FreedomWorks Vice President of Public Policy Max Pappas and I wrote in our piece on the Senate healthcare reform bill:
Of the powers that the founding document vests in Congress, there are two that Congress may argue grant it the ability to mandate the purchase of insurance. They are the power to, “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to… provide for the… general welfare of the United States,” and the power to, “regulate commerce… among the several States.”
It has been argued that the Constitution grants Congress the power to, “impose a tax on people who do not have health insurance.” Such a tax would be a means by which Congress could enforce its mandate on the purchase of insurance. Punishing those who do not buy insurance with an added tax burden will force a majority of Americans to acquire coverage.
It may seem like a legitimate way to discourage individuals from lacking insurance but the federal government does not possess such broad taxation powers. Like every other power vested in Congress, the Constitution holds limitations on lawmakers ability to collect taxes. Article I Section 8 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to collect excise and capitation taxes. The 16th Amendment created a national income tax. But an extra tax burden placed on individuals who choose not to purchase health insurance does not fall under any of these three categories.
An excise tax is a surcharge on a purchase but this “individual mandate tax” does not tax people for what they purchase, it taxes them for what they refuse to purchase. A capitation tax is a tax laid equally upon every person within the same state but this individual mandate tax would only be levied upon certain citizens (those who did not buy insurance). And an income tax is based on personal income but a mandate tax would be based whether or not one purchases insurance. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has held that Congress cannot use its ability to lay taxes to pass regulations that it would otherwise not pass.
Supporters of Democrat reform plans also argue that Congress is granted constitutional authority to mandate health insurance under the Commerce Clause. Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power, “to regulate Commerce… among the several States.” However, the Supreme Court has held that in order for something to be considered commerce it must at very least be an economic activity. A mandate on health insurance forces Americans to purchase a product simply because they are alive. Merely existing is not an economic activity. Giving Congress the ability to force citizens to buy a certain product eliminates every restraint put in place by our nation’s founders and imposes upon the liberties that our government was established to defend.
Still, until the constitutionality of the legislation is challenged before the Supreme Court (the process has already begun), it remains the law of the land. Thankfully, while the rest of us are waiting for the individual mandate to be struck down in court, states like Missouri have begun the push back against such oppressive policies.