Principles of '98

The blog of Derek J. Sheriff. History and current events through the lens of 1798.

The Constitution: Accept NO Substitutes in this Health Care Debate!

with 3 comments

Joshua Lyons wrote about the health care debate last November:

“It is imperative that we take our eyes off the specifics of the proposed healthcare legislation (i.e. death panels, etc.) and focus on the authority granted [or not granted]to our federal representatives by the people.”


“Unless we unify around properly granted authority..we’ll continue a losing back-and-forth game of arguing the issues where the ball keeps getting pushed down the field a few more inches toward the Nanny State end zone.”

He was right when he wrote those words last year and the fact of the matter is that the situation remains unchanged today.

No Authority

Obama may have embraced a few Republican ideas as part of his new plan, but that doesn’t amend the Constitution. The fact that the president wrote that he would continue to draw on the best ideas from both parties, and that he is open to these proposals doesn’t mean that he is open to the proposal that Congress has no authority under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution to event enact most of what will be contained in his final plan. His reaction to such a proposal would probably be similar to Nancy Pelosi’s reaction when she was confronted with it. With undisguised hubris, she asked the reporter, “Are you serious?”.

When one looks at the larger picture, the details of Obama’s new “health care package”, or whether or not it is passed with bipartisan support, matters little. What is far more important, now and in the future, is that people question the constitutionality of any health care reform proposed by Congress.

Sadly, many opponents of big government can’t see the forest (the larger constitutional objection), for all the trees, (death panels, debt, job losses, higher taxes etc.) How many Republicans who participated in Obama’s recent bi-partisan dog and pony show actually objected to the new plan on constitutional grounds? This needs to change right now. The details of the so called “package” should be ignored or at least take a back seat. We should instead focus on the question of constitutional authority and limit the scope of this debate immediately. Much more is at stake here than health care freedom, after all.

Our opponents would like nothing more than to distract us from the issue of constitutionality. But by refusing to be redirected, we can retain the high ground and dictate the terms of battle, as it were. This will also help to educate and prepare those who believe in limited government to resist not only this act of federal usurpation, but all such acts.

Weak Arguments

It’s essential, both in the long run and the short run, that we educate people about just what the U.S. Constitution does and does not authorize our federal government to do. It’s not very difficult to show anyone, who still has any regard at all for the Constitution, just how flimsy the arguments made by federal consolidationists like Nancy Pelosi are.

Arguments that consolidationists employ usually involve an extreme metamorphosis of the “General Welfare Clause”, or it is claimed that since Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce and,

“..every aspect of the heath care system has an effect on interstate commerce, the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited.”

Go back and read that statement again. Nancy Pelosi claims UNLIMITED power to regulate your health care! Someone should point out to her that a government without limits is a tyranny! Affirmation number six of the Tenth Amendment Center’s 10-4 Pledge points out what constitutional scholars like Rob Natelson and Kevin Gutzman have been saying for years:

“The “Interstate Commerce Clause” in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, does not permit Congress to regulate matters that merely affect commerce among the States. It only permits Congress to regulate trade among the States.”

Unless we emphasize and stick to the point that Congress has only those specific, limited powers enumerated in Article 1 Section 8, we are really just debating over who should be in control of what amounts to an unlimited, unrestrained, unaccountable central government. It doesn’t matter which party controls such a leviathan because it will eventually end up controlling and regulating every aspect of our lives.

But doesn’t Congress have implied powers that can be inferred from the “nessecarry and proper clause”? Yes, of course, but this clause only empowers Congress to use the minimum amount of power nessecarry to carry out those powers that are already enumerated in Article 1 Section 8. Affirmation number five of the Tenth Amendment Center’s 10-4 Pledge explains it very succictly:

“In order for a federally-exercised power to be “necessary and proper” it must be
a) something that, without which, would make the enumerated power impossible to exercise, and
b) a lesser power than that which has been enumerated”

Novel interpretations of the “commerce clause” favored by federal consolidationists can never be reconciled with its original meaning as understood by the Constitution’s framers and ratifiers. Any layperson who has spent  just a little time studying the ratification debates between the federalists and anti-federalists, can see right through the arguments of today’s would be nationalists and will realize just how dubious their claims of unlimited power to regulate really are.

It’s only been through the dumbing down of several generations and the repeated use of partisan “divide and conquer” tactics that the consolidationists in Washington, D.C. have even been able to perpetrate their “commerce clause” fraud for so long.

Unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, however, the people of the several states and many of their state legislators are now more alert and better informed than they have ever been in recent memory.

A good place to start learning exactly why the proposed national health care “reform” is unconstitutional, would be this article written by a leading constitutional scholar, Rob Natelson, Professor of Law at The University of Montana: Pelosi’s Misleading Statement on the Constitutionality of Government Health Care

Don’t be distracted or become bogged down in this debate. Emphasize the Constitution above all else and ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!


Written by Derek Sheriff

March 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Washington State (and more than 30 other states) already have laws on the books providing health insurance options for all residents. If someone in our state doesn’t have insurance, it is because they haven’t made it a priority. Wouldn’t it make more sense to require all states to form high-risk and low income insurance pools like Washington State? State programs are far more manageable than federal ones.


    June 3, 2010 at 11:46 am

    • I agree that such a plan would be far better than what has come to be called Obamacare. Arizona has ACCHS for low income people who cannot afford private insurance. But I have two points. First, I would oppose any federal mandate without a Constitutional amendment. The Constitution as it stands now does not delegate any power to the federal government to regulate health care. They may have the authority to strike down interstate insurance barriers that the states have erected, however. The people of each state MUST be free to choose what works for their state. That’s what federalism and self-government are all about. Second, the best thing we could do as a country is to try to avoid using insurance to pay for anything but catastrophic, unpredictable medical emergencies. Anyone who understands the economics of risk and insurance knows that these are the only things that are really insurable. Everything else invites moral hazard and is really not insurance, it’s wealth redistribution. Thanks for your comment!

      Derek Sheriff

      June 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

  2. You couldnt be more factual!!


    November 12, 2011 at 5:44 am

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