SHE’S NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR, EITHER…. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has come to the conclusion that health care reform, in addition to being a bad idea, is literally unconstitutional. She made the case on Monday night to Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
“[I]t is not within our power as members of Congress, it’s not within the enumerated powers of the Constitution for us to design and create a national takeover of health care. Nor is it within our ability to be able to delegate that responsibility to the executive.”
It’s hard to know where to start with this. My first thought was that reform doesn’t represent “a national takeover of health care.” My second was that I’ll look forward to Bachmann’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Medicare. I suspect, however, that such litigation is unlikely.
On a more substantive note, the Constitution empowers Congress to “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises,” to “provide for” the “general welfare” of the United States, and to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”
As Matthew DeLong noted, “I’m no constitutional scholar, but enacting laws to reform the health care system to help provide insurance to the roughly 45 million Americans currently going without sounds like it might be covered under a reasonable reading of the ‘general welfare’ clause.”
Ian Millhiser summarized the larger context nicely: “It’s important to note just how radical Bachmann’s theory of the Constitution is. If Congress does not have the power to create a modest public option which competes with private health plans in the marketplace, then it certainly does not have the authority to create Medicare. Similarly, Congress’ power to spend money to benefit the general welfare is the basis for Social Security, federal education funding, Medicaid, and veterans benefits such as the VA health system and the GI Bill. All of these programs would cease to exist in Michele Bachmann’s America.”