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Issue Analysis

Debunking the Liberal Talking Points on the Healthcare Debate

With the constitutional merit of the Obamacare mandate unraveling daily before our very eyes, the liberal talking points of bloggers, pundits, and politicians attempting to justify Obamacare from both a constitutional and a practical standpoint seem to be getting more and more ludicrous and far-fetched.  These ridiculous talking points being recycled among liberals are a sign of their growing desperation as Obamacare consistently fails to stand up to scrutiny from freedom loving Americans.  Thus, I have taken an article written by a Duke Law professor reiterating these generic liberal arguments in favor of Obamacare in order to debunk his points, one by one.

If the court invalidates the ACA, someone who loses a job (and thus her insurance) and becomes ill is in financial peril. She likely will be denied new coverage based on her preexisting condition.  It would be one thing if our Constitution prohibited Congress from addressing this awful situation with the ACA. But this is exactly the kind of problem that our Constitution empowers Congress to solve.

Firstly, the implementation of Obamacare could increase the likelihood of this hypothetical situation across the United States, potentially resulting in massive job loss.  This will result as a direct effect of the “employer mandate,” which will force companies to lay off employees in order to afford higher insurance costs resulting from the new “minimum essential coverage” requirement.  This will require coverage of a laundry list of supposedly “essential” services which will be determined entirely by the HHS and will therefore be completely at the discretion of deep-pocketed special interests that can afford the best and most persuasive lobbyists to do their bidding. Of course, this is also assuming employers don’t just decide that it’s cheaper to pay the tax penalty and not provide insurance to employees at all.  Since most Americans are happy with their employer based health care plans, this situation would be worse.

However, what Mr. Siegal fails to mention is that striking down Obamacare is NOT synonymous with the end of health care reform.  Health care reforms promoting interstate competition will result in better care at lower costs.  Real health care reform will implement a patient-centered, consumer-driven system.  First, though, we need to repeal Obamacare.

By solving interstate economic problems, the minimum coverage provision respects crucial limits on Congress.

Much to Mr. Obama’s disappointment, the Constitution is a document of negative liberties, thus working to limit the government’s influence in individual’s lives by dictating what they cannot do to the American people, rather than telling them what they can.  Despite Mr. Siegal’s claim, by forcing an individual to enter the health care market based simply upon his fixed status as a living, breathing American citizen, the health care mandate blatantly exceeds constitutional parameters in disregarding nearly all “crucial limits” on Congress, rather than “respecting” them.

Moreover, a mandate forcing individuals to purchase health care coverage is NOT working to solve any “interstate economic problems,” so much as it will single-handedly obliterate state budgets.  This is because the law will force millions of previously uncovered individuals into state-sponsored Medicaid programs, while forcing state’s to cover the increasing costs.  Advocates of repealing Obamacare want to replace it with a system that would encourage competition amongst state providers AND allow individuals to purchase insurance across state lines, which right now, they can’t do.

Opponents assert that Congress’ commerce power does not support the minimum-coverage provision because Congress may not use this authority to regulate inactivity (not buying insurance). Take this novel suggestion seriously and Congress may not mandate vaccination to combat a deadly flu pandemic spreading around the country. Given the mobility of Americans, we would all be at the mercy of a state that refused to mandate vaccination on libertarian grounds.  Our Constitution is not a suicide pact.

In ruling the Obamacare mandate constitutional, the Supreme Court would be setting dangerous precedent by providing Congress with official authority to regulate both economic activity as well as economic inactivity, such as the failure to purchase health insurance.  In other words, upholding the mandate could justify government interference in the lives of American citizens for what they do not do, their inactivity.  This is not a “novel suggestion.”  This is a serious affront to our constitutional liberties.

In the case of a deadly flu outbreak, one would most likely act in his or her best interest and spring for a vaccination to prevent an untimely death with or without any “mandate” from Congress to do so.  This goes on to explain the pivotal difference in ideology between liberals and libertarians; whereas liberal policy stems from the idea that people are too inherently dumb to look out for their own best interests and thus necessitate the guidance of educated elites, libertarians believe in the power of the individual to act in his or her best interest and to be free to both fail and/or succeed in the ultimate pursuit of his or her own happiness. 

Thus, the question actually becomes:  Would you rather be at the mercy of one state that refused to “mandate” vaccination, or the mercy of a federal government that forced you not only to be vaccinated for a “deadly flu pandemic,” but also forced you to purchase vegetables every day and a gym membership every year in order to “make you healthier” and prolong your life?  Under Mr. Siegal’s argument, the logic is the same.

Opponents agree that Congress may use the commerce clause to require that insurers cover people with preexisting conditions.  Under long-standing doctrine, the minimum-coverage provision is necessary and proper to carrying into execution this concededly constitutional regulation of insurers. The provision combats the perverse incentive people would otherwise have to wait until they are sick to obtain insurance, thereby unraveling insurance markets.

Although Congress can and should introduce bills that allow for easier coverage of those with pre-existing conditions, Obamacare is not the way to do it.  The Obamacare mandate which forces every American citizen, regardless of his or her current medical condition, to purchase health care will not only result in massive job loss, but decreased quality of care, higher insurance costs, and a huge bureaucratic takeover of the best health care system in the world.  This is not to say that the American system is not without fault or that it is not in need of desperate reform.  However, the first step towards real reform is to repeal the ACA and the Obamacare mandate so we can work towards replacing it with a patient-centered, consumer-driven system.


Steph Staker

Excellent arguments to each point made by Siegal. We DO definitely need health care reform and the first thing is to limit medical malpractice lawsuits. In California, there is a limit on "pain and suffering" and it is reasonable. I don't remember when it passed or how it passed but I am sure there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. A lot of tests and procedures are done on patients only to protect the medical provider against malpractice and that should not be.