Mandates and Penalties

November 19th, 2009

By Mary Jones

Please read this press release from the Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

One of the many things a lot of people don’t know is that if the House health care bill becomes law, you will not be able to opt out of health care or make your own choices.

Failure to obtain what is deemed by the government as “acceptable” coverage will result in steep fines and jail time. Freedom of choice will be a thing of the past.

Where in the Constitution does it say the government can either force you to enter into a contract or prevent you from entering into a legal contract?  

Think about it…this has never happened before.

Mary Jones lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. She’s concerned about the country’s future and is actively involved with others to inform people and to petition Congress to make changes. Contact:

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16 Responses to “Mandates and Penalties”

  1. Brian Bagent |

    Just think of all of the extra money the federal government is going to have to come up with to prosecute and fine/incarcerate the 40-50 million uninsured people here.

  2. Brianna |

    I really, really hope that this little aspect of the bill does not become law. The resemblance to Point One of Directive 10-289 is frightening.

  3. Tom |

    Just a little quibble — the bill doesn’t say that failure to have acceptable coverage will result in steep fines and jail time. It says that if you don’t obtain acceptable coverage, you’ll have to pay a tax. If you don’t pay the tax, then you get into fines and/or jail time, just like any case of evading taxes.

    In any case, I don’t like it, either. It’s not so unusual, though. There are lots of laws that require people to enter into contracts such as minimum kinds and levels of auto insurance. It can be said that it isn’t the same thing because you don’t have to have a car, but that’s not true for most people in practical terms.

    There’s a good discussion here on the question of whether the health insurance mandate is constitutional.

  4. Brianna |

    Tom, the very fact that people are asking that question is just a prime example of how far this country has slid from the ideals of its founding.

    “The liberty in question is purely economic and has none of the strong elements of personal or bodily integrity that invoke Constitutional protection.”

    If this man doesn’t realize that economic freedoms are every bit as integral to the protection of personal and bodily integrity as political ones, then he is a fool.

  5. Tom |

    That quote from the linked article is followed by this statement:

    “…there is no fundamental right to be uninsured, and so various arguments based on the Bill of Rights fall flat.”

    There could be other arguments about things like powers under the Commerce Clause, etc. However, if Congress makes the penalty a tax, they’ll probably not have a constitutional problem.

    What’s left is the political problem, and I suspect a fairly vocal public reaction against being forced to buy health insurance will get their attention.

  6. Brianna |

    You have to do some pretty fast talking to call taxing people for failing to purchase health insurance something that falls under the interstate commerce clause. Incidentally, how is taxing people for failing to purchase health insurance any different from fining them?

  7. Tom |

    I don’t like the idea of a government mandate to buy health insurance. I think it’s an unacceptable infringement of individual freedom. And it’s different from, say, a government mandate to buy auto insurance. At least that directly protects me (and you) from having to pay the cost when we’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. That case might be made for mandated health insurance, but it would be much less direct and isn’t justified.

    However, I don’t think it’s unconstitutional. It’s not a denial of fundamental rights, and it won’t be framed under the Commerce or General Welfare clauses (at least not directly). It’s a tax, and the taxing power of Congress has come to be almost unlimited. And you’re right, a tax in this case doesn’t feel much different from a fine.

    What the political cost will be is a different question. Aside from those well to the left, which does not include all Democrats, I think most people aren’t going to like this very much. That bill will come due in 2010 and 2012.

  8. Brian |

    “…there is no fundamental right to be uninsured, and so various arguments based on the Bill of Rights fall flat.”

    That is perhaps one of the most absurd things I’ve ever read. My eyes hurt, and I fear that I’ve lost a few IQ points for having read it.

    I wonder if the fellow that wrote that drivel has ever bothered to read the 9th amendment.

  9. Brianna |

    “And it’s different from, say, a government mandate to buy auto insurance. At least that directly protects me (and you) from having to pay the cost when we’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.”

    Well, I don’t know how it works in other states, but in IL the only type of insurance that is required is liability, which I actually view as moderately justifiable based on the fact that if I cause an accident, the other person has a right to know that he is covered. Purchasing insurance that will cover myself in the event that I cause an accident would be a different issue for me, because I don’t think the government has a right to force me to act for my own good.

    “It’s not a denial of fundamental rights”

    I don’t know how you feel about your fundamental rights, but if someone walks up to me and says, “Here, you have to pay me money simply because you happen to exist and be walking around within my national borders,” then I would view that as a pretty fundamental violation of my rights.

    “It’s a tax, and the taxing power of Congress has come to be almost unlimited. ”

    Repeal the 17th amendment. It’s not like there isn’t precedent.

  10. Brianna |

    16th amendment, sorry

  11. Tom |

    Brianna, you’re taxed by every level of government simply because you exist and you’re walking around (or living) in their jurisdiction. That’s a condition of life in every society.

    What’s the alternative to taxation of some kind? There isn’t one, assuming you want someone to come put out the fire that’s burning your home, arrest criminals, send your kids to school, have a military to protect your country, and on and on.

    Your ire should be directed not at the fact of taxation, which is not in any sense a violation of rights, but at what taxes are being used for and the state of financial management in government — at all levels. That’s the real problem.

  12. Brianna |

    I do not object to the taxing of my income per se because enough of it is used for things I approve of that I am willing to let it go about the rest. Taxing income as a way of funding the state because there must be some way to fund the state is not quite the same thing in my mind as taxing people for failing to get health care as an incentive to make them do something the government thinks they should.

    This is what they want of us Tom. This is what they aim for with the “it’s for your own good” talk and “there’s no specific provision in the Bill of Rights against it” and “well, we’ve let the government do A and we’ve let them do B, so we might as well let them do C”. They don’t care if you’re uneasy. They don’t care if you don’t like it. They just want to make sure that we aren’t sure enough of ourselves and our rights to stand up and say something about it, to demand action or change or repeal. As long as we just sit around saying, “well, we can’t be sure it’s a violation of our rights,” that’s all they want. That’s all they need.

  13. Brian |

    Article IX in Amendment to the United States constitution reads as follows:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    The constitution imposes burdens on the government, not on “We the People.” The constitution is a limitation on government power, a permission slip from “we the people,” to do the things specifically declared within the constitution. If the constitution is silent on an issue, that issue belongs to “we the people.”

    If the Bill of Rights were repealed tomorrow, we would STILL RETAIN THOSE RIGHTS. Our rights do not come from government, or from a piece of paper. We were born with them. They are native to our circumstance as humans.

    From Federalist 84, authored by Alexander Hamilton:
    “It has been several times truly remarked, that bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was Magna Charta, obtained by the Barons, sword in hand, from king John. Such were the subsequent confirmations of that charter by subsequent princes. Such was the petition of right assented to by Charles the First, in the beginning of his reign. Such also was the declaration of right presented by the lords and commons to the prince of Orange in 1688, and afterwards thrown into the form of an act of parliament, called the bill of rights. It is evident, therefore, that according to their primitive signification, they have no application to constitutions professedly founded upon the power of the people, and executed by their immediate representatives and servants. Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing, and as they retain every thing, they have no need of particular reservations. “We the people of the United States, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Here is a better recognition of popular rights than volumes of those aphorisms which make the principal figure in several of our state bills of rights, and which would sound much better in a treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government.

  14. Tom |

    Brian, you’re absolutely right, and I agree with you completely. However, we are where we are, in terms of the development of constitutional law and modern government.

    Founders like Madison and Hamilton were concerned that by adding a bill of rights to the Constitution, it could be taken that any right not enumerated was not protected. Ergo, the Ninth Amendment. But I think your argument would rely more appropriately on the Tenth since we’re dealing with limits on the reach of federal power.

    In any case, what would you do about it? Constitutional law and interpretation has evolved through more than two hundred years to where we are now. How would you reverse all that?

    As far as quotes go, here’s one of my favorite from Marion Barry, the corrupt druggie politician who served as mayor of Washintton, D.C. several times and now sits on the D.C. city council: “What right does Congress have to go around making laws just because they deem it necessary?”

  15. Brian |

    My two favorite Marion Barry Quotes:

    “The b*t*h set me up!”

    and the crown jewel:

    “If you don’t count the murders, Washington DC is not a very violent place.”

  16. Brianna |

    Sure, and if you don’t count the bribery, bailouts, and cronyism going on, it might not even be a very unethical place, either 😛

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