Letters to the Editor

Issue settled

November 17, 2011


To the editor:

Monday, I heard that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the legality of the purchase mandate and other parts of the Affordable Health Care Act next spring.

As a person who knows the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution verbatim I wonder what leg these states’ rights people think they have to stand on. Both states and Indian tribes are sovereign to govern themselves but dependent on the federal government for protection. This isn’t my opinion. This is the opinion of one U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall in his rulings in the Worcester v. Georgia and Cherokee v. Georgia rulings of the 1830s in response to the state rights position of one President Andrew Jackson.

These people think that the Articles of Confederation is the valid constitutional document the way they sound. Sorry, the U.S. Constitution replaced it in 1787 and gave the U.S. Congress that passed the health care law plenary power to regulate commerce. This isn’t federal overstepping. It’s Republicans having a temper tantrum fighting the U.S. Civil War all over again, which was lost by states’ rights governments.

I went to Constitution Day at the Lied Center. The anti-health care bill attorney was full of inferences and no facts. Legal cases are won with facts, not inference and smear tactics. This bill should be intact unless those justices who support smear tactics and inference bow to their corporate lackeys and pull another Gore v. Bush travesty.


cato_the_elder 6 years, 5 months ago

Earth to letter writer: The sole reason for the existence of the Commerce Clause was the fact that under the Articles of Confederation states had been attempting to interfere with the commercial activities of neighboring states in a number of ways, e.g. river traffic. In order to prevent that, the Commerce Clause was enacted. To stretch that so far as to postulate that under the Commerce Clause the federal government can now control inactivity on the part of individual citizens (the failure to purchase health insurance) is both ludicrous and preposterous. If the individual mandate is upheld, there will literally be nothing that the federal government cannot do to the control the lives of individual citizens, and the concept of freedom and liberty on which our country was founded will be lost forever.

Of course, I well understand that those who advocate the constitutionality of this linchpin of Obamacare, including the writer of this letter, apparently don't care about that.

Jimo 6 years, 5 months ago

This from the fool who said "The notion that the Bush administration is responsible for the state of our economy when Obama took over is the biggest lie promulgated by the Hard Left in my lifetime."

cato_the_elder 6 years, 5 months ago

And that from Jimo the Marxist moonbat, who has previously said, "The only feudalism we have in America is the concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of a few."

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

And that is incorrect, HOW? Cato, you are a card. I, just once, you'd answer with something that meant something, I'd be happy to listen. That said, I'm not going to hold my breath.

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

Just like you to attack with no reason other than you disagree. Last laugh.................

cato_the_elder 6 years, 5 months ago

So you're a Marxist too. Congratulations.

Mike Ford 6 years, 5 months ago

all you care about is mudslinging and inferences which aren't law. If you're a citizen of this country you're subject to it's laws. Or does that only apply with dimwit religious mantra about gay marriage and other religious deceptive wedge issues like the voter ID nonsense?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually, I think he's right (probably the first time I can recall agreeing with cato :-))

At least to some degree.

The ICC has gone from being something allowing the federal government to regulate commerce between states, to something allowing them to regulate intrastate commerce if it "substantially affects" interstate commerce, to something allowing regulation of activities if there is a "rational basis" to believe they may affect interstate commerce.

This allows the federal government to currently use the ICC to prosecute folks who grow marijuana in their backyard for their own consumption, even in states in which that's legal.

Quite a stretch from the original idea, isn't it?

If the government can now mandate an individual purchase of health insurance under the guise of the ICC, what stops them from mandating other individual purchases?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

Yes, soon there might be a Federal Mandate that for every Honda car sold, 4 Ford cars must be sold.

And for every Toyota sold, there must be 4 GM cars sold.

Jimo 6 years, 5 months ago

I'd ask what the possible logical basis for such a rule would be.

However, it's obvious that there isn't one.

I'm sure you'll do well though in your new career of talk radio pundit.

Jimo 6 years, 5 months ago

"If the government can now mandate an individual purchase of health insurance under the guise of the ICC, what stops them from mandating other individual purchases?"

Well that whole democracy thingie.

Newsflash: "Government" didn't do anything. Your fellow citizens did. They aren't interested in subsidizing your goldbricking and insisted you make provision for your own bills.

Don't like it? Move to an island with population of one.

Besides, you've been mandated to purchase health insurance for almost 50 years. Or does your paycheck come without a FICA deduction?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Are you starting to insult me now?

That would be a shame - I enjoy our conversations.

I've never "goldbricked", or gone to an emergency room for routine medical care, or done anything that would result in other people subsidizing my choices.

In fact, I'm absolutely certain that I pay more into the insurance pool than I ever take out, given that I take good care of myself, rarely get sick or go to the doctor, etc.

The Medicare program can conceivably be called part of the "general welfare", and thus a constitutional way to spend tax dollars. Requiring every individual to purchase health insurance from a private insurance company is quite different.

Although our system does give a great deal of power to the majority, it doesn't give it unlimited power, and it's not supposed to do so.

I think it is a ridiculous use of the ICC to mandate these purchases, as well as it is to prosecute the folks I mentioned above - it's clearly not what was intended by that clause.

I notice that despite the various insults in your post, you have provided no counter-argument that makes sense - how is it a correct use of the ICC to do this?

Finally, of course, if you continue to insult me, I'll have to ask you to stop responding to my posts - please stop doing so. I don't insult you, and I'd appreciate it if you'd return the courtesy.

Mike Ford 6 years, 5 months ago

all the time actually. Why do you think Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts are crowd ducking cowards when they visit KU? ask Mr. Roberts about the Sherill V Oneida Indian Nation fiasco and the Wagnon V Prairie Band Potawatomi fiasco...Republican nominees recently turned the law on it's head that's what their bosses want.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 5 months ago

Shoulda bit the bullet and gone to single payer health care when they had the chance. Sadly, they couldn't beat out big pharma and the health industrial complex. The current law is a start, but just a baby step.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

My opinion is that "The Health Insurance Industry" is a leech sucking blood from American citizens. Their contribution to the American economy is less than nothing, it is a cost that rightfully should be subtracted from the GDP.

Jimo 6 years, 5 months ago

As Mr. Ford well knows, Indian Tribes occupy a unique place in the law. While often operating under a rubric of “sovereignty,” the Supreme Court has held that the incorporation of the Tribes into the United States with a dependent status caused a variety of aspects of sovereignty to be lost. Among those aspects in which there has been some implicit divestiture of sovereignty has been held to have occurred are those involving the relations between an Indian tribe and nonmembers of that tribe, diplomatic relations with other nations, the right to declare war, even some aspects of state authority even on reservation land. The Supreme Court has rejected that the Tribes possess “the full attributes of sovereignty, but” are properly viewed “as a separate people, with the power of regulating their internal and social relations, and thus far not brought under the law of the Union or of the State within whose limits they resided.” It's a far more mixed (some would say muddled) situation than declaring that Tribes are "sovereign" would imply.

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

I would think anyone who believes so strongly that this isn't an issue that should even be considered by the highest court in the land, as the letter writer indicates, shouldn't be concerned.

The line "It’s Republicans having a temper tantrum fighting the U.S. Civil War all over again ..." tells me that the writer is indeed concerned and is using this opportunity to lash out at all Republicans. Not all who disagree with the Affordable Health Care Act are Republicans, and not all Republicans are against it. Besides, wasn't Lincoln a Republican? That means the analogy doesn't work the way the writer might have intended, since re-fighting the Civil War from the original Republican point of view would actually mean fighting to again keep the union together. Or something like that.

At any rate, I am strongly in favor of the Supreme Court reviewing the Affordable Health Care Act to indeed settle the issue once and for all. I believe it will be upheld, but I'm not exactly a Constitutional expert. If ruled unconstitutional, it means going back to the drawing board to help our society acquire affordable health care.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

The mandate to purchase health insurance is one of a few cost-reducing parts of the Act.

Most of the Act is about increasing coverage, and access to health care, not reducing costs.

I predict, again, that the SC will rule the individual mandate unconstitutional, and the rest ok. That means if Congress can't figure out some other way to keep costs down (they're considering removing the requirement for insurance companies to cover high-risk patients), they'll undoubtedly go up.

And, if they remove that part, it cuts into the idea of more access.

Although it may not break down strictly along party lines, most Democrats seem to favor it, and most Republicans seem against it, so the letter isn't off the wall, or anything.

Why do you think it's ok to use the ICC to mandate an individual purchase of health insurance, when it was designed to allow regulation of "interstate commerce"?

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm saying I don't know. As it has helped in Mass., I think it would be best for the nation, but it might not be constitutional. I really don't know. It is a tax, without question, and the government can mandate taxes.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Well, we should look carefully at Massachusetts - from the little I've read about it, it's not at all clear that it's some sort of outstanding success there.

It's not a tax - it's a penalty for not buying a product.

If it were a tax, then we'd all pay it.

Frankly, I think increased taxes and Medicare for all would be more defensible constitutionally, under the "general welfare" clause.

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

According to FoxNews and Moderate, we don't all pay taxes. It is still a tax, even if some pay enough to cover the costs for others not actually paying into the system.

Mass. is the number one state for residents with health care coverage. That seems like a success to me.

In general, I think it a good idea that everyone be covered, but I'm far from knowledgable on the details on whether or not it is constitutional. Wish I could give a little more educated feedback for a healthy conversation, which seem to be lacking around here these days. Too many zombies cluttering the webs, I guess.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Look into it more carefully.

Costs have also risen quite a bit there.

It's not a clear success by any means, if you look at the whole picture.

I get your point about not everybody paying taxes, but this is a penalty for not complying with a government mandate to buy something - it's not a tax at all.

We'll see how it plays out - I'm sticking with my prediction.

Read the ICC - it's about 16 words, and it contains nothing that would suggest this is an appropriate use of it.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

For your reading pleasure:

"The Congress shall have power...to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes"

Article 1, section 8.

It's abundantly clear that the original idea of this clause has nothing to do with mandating individual purchases of anything.

The problem is that over the years, the interpretation of it has broadened, and courts have ruled that those broader interpretations are ok.

So much so that the federal government can use it to prosecute individuals growing marijuana in their back yard for their own consumption in states that have legalized that.

It's one thing to regulate interstate commerce, and quite another to stretch that to allow activities like the above.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

There is a mandate, called EMTALA, that requires hospitals to treat emergencies, regardless of a variety of factors, including citizenship, ability to pay, etc.

It applies to pretty much all hospitals, although there may be a few that are exempt.

That doesn't cover routine care, though, so hospitals, doctors, etc. are perfectly free to deny care to those that can't pay for it.

As far as I know, the hospitals get no incentives to offer that emergency care, and in fact lose money on it, unless they can get insurance companies to raise the allowed amount for covered procedures, or get people with money to pay more for their health care.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 5 months ago

Just one of the reasons a hospital might charge you $5-10 for one aspirin, to make up the difference for those who do not or cannot pay.

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

There is another reason they might charge that much for aspirin. It's an issue called orphan drugs. That is a drug that is very expensive to develop yet will be used by very few individuals for a very rare disease. If each patient paid for the drugs they used, the user of an aspirin might pay a penny while the user of the orphan drug might pay tens of thousands of dollars. By charging so much for aspirin, costs for the orphan drugs can be reduced dramatically.

Mike Ford 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually Beatrice it did work the way I wanted it to. The southern Democrats who were state's rights racists back then were exiled to the Republican Party as part of Nixon's Southern Strategy stolen from George Wallace in 1968. They don't know their own history enough to know anyway. I grew up there and witnessed their historical ignorance.

Liberty waahwaah....Congress Shall Regulate the Commerce between the foreign nations, the several states, and the Indian tribes. Article One Section Eight Par Three... John Marshall stated that tribes and states were sovereign to govern themselves yet dependant on the federal government's protection in Worcester V. Georgia. How does a dillusional liberatarian argue with historical quotes?

Again you live on land your government stole through treaties and substandard collateral and if not for stolen land where would you take your delusional enlightenment? How did John Locke feel about the colonial theft of lands? Did he completely overlook tribes like the Treaty of Paris did in 1783? I guess in delusion you can say black is orange and green is polka dot....

Math your ignorance is ridiculous....

rockchalk how dare anyone stand up to your nonsense how dare they......

weeslicket 6 years, 5 months ago

anywhoo, this one's going to the supreme court. 3 district courts have upheld this legislation, and 1 has denied it.

"a roll of the dice! a roll of the dice! my nation, for the roll of the dice!" (most shamelessly stolen from shakespear's "richard III")

hold on to your knickerbockers, america.

Mike Ford 6 years, 5 months ago

oh you stepped in the big pile of historical duty now liberty........have you ever heard of the Walking Purchase of 1737? William Penn's sons made a deal with the Lenape or Delaware as White people call them to have the Lenape cede away as much land as could be walked by a man in a day. Only problem was that the White people cheated and had a whole team of walkers who walked over 20 miles in a day stealing many times the land the Lenape agreed to in the first place. You sound so naive in your rants. I'm expecting your parents to come down to your room in their basement to tell you dinner is ready since you probably live at home with your parents.

The Lenape, Munsee, Piscataway, Conoy, Shawnee, Nanticoke, Susquahannock, Tuscarora, and Tutelo peoples were affected by this land theft. Sweet dreams in your naivety.

Corey Williams 6 years, 5 months ago

"In 1660 Quakers said "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world." http://www.nairnquakers.org/index.htm

Mike Ford 6 years, 5 months ago

gee..you're arguement baiting delusional person who openly refutes a tragic act of William Penn's sons against the ancestors of Delaware and Munsee Indians I know in Pomona, Kansas, and Copan and Bartlesville, Oklahoma in the 1730's. Your libertarian rantings aren't even worth acknowledging anymore.....say buh buy to credability buddy.

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