CRAZY LIKE A FOXX…. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R) of North Carolina has already contributed so much to the health care debate. It was Foxx, after all, who argued a month ago, “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare.” She added that reform would “give the government control of our lives.”
A week later, Foxx insisted that health care reform would “put seniors in a position” in which they may be “put to death by their government.”
And Thursday, Foxx was at it again, this time making a constitutional argument.
“The Constitution doesn’t grant a right to health care, and most of us are living as much by the Constitution as we can. It also doesn’t give the federal government the authority to deal with health care. As you may know, the 10th amendment, it says if it isn’t mentioned in the Constitution to be done by the federal government, it’s left to the states or the people.”
Obviously, facts haven’t played much of a role in the right’s opposition to reform, so this kind of nonsense isn’t surprising. But in case anyone’s tempted to take this seriously, 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 recently 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.”
That said, I’d like to encourage Foxx to pursue her beliefs sincerely. If she believes her own rhetoric, Foxx should use her role as a federal lawmaker to pursue the dictates of her constitutional scholarship. In other words, it’s incumbent on Foxx to file legislation to dismantle Medicare and Social Security. That, or she should assemble a legal team and challenge the programs’ constitutionality in federal court. Go big or go home. Put up or shut up.
If Foxx means what she says, and she takes constitutional law seriously, this is the obvious course of action. If she doesn’t mean what she says, Foxx probably ought to stick to the usual right-wing nonsense and skip the 10th Amendment argument.