Custom Search

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pelosi: 'Are You Serious?" On Constitutionality Question

Short audio below (24 seconds) of a question asked of Nancy Pelosi by a CNS reporter about the constitutionality of the individual mandate written into the Obamacare bills, where it threatens a fine on people who do not buy health insurance. “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”

Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” “Yes, yes I am.”

Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandated that individual Americans buy health insurance as not a "serious question."

“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”

Followup emails to Pelosi's spokesperson finally got an answer to their question, but the answer, in and of itself, is even more worrisome than the original "are you serious" answer.

Later on Thursday, followed up on the question, e-mailing written queries for the speaker to her Spokesman Elshami.

“Where specifically does the Constitution authorize Congress to force Americans to purchase a particular good or service such as health insurance?” asked the speaker's office.

“If it is the Speaker’s belief that there is a provision in the Constitution that does give Congress this power, does she believe the Constitution in any way limits the goods and services Congress can force an individual to purchase?" asked. "If so, what is that limit?”

Elshami responded by sending a Sept. 16 press release from the Speaker’s office entitled, “Health Insurance Reform, Daily Mythbuster: ‘Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform.’” The press release states that Congress has “broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce. Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life, from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production.”

They are trying to claim that Congress has the power to force people to buy basically anything Congress decides under the interstate commerce clause, which doesn't quite hold water and the issue was addressed in 1994:

In 1994, when the health care reform plan then being advanced by President Clinton called for mandating that all Americans buy health insurance, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office studed the issue and concluded:

“The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.”

If Congress passes a bill that includes this individual mandate, I predict immediate challenges in court the second they try to enforce it.