Last month at a town hall in Hayward, Calif., a constituent asked Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) about Obamacare: “If this legislation is Constitutional, what limitations are there on the federal government’s ability to tell us how to run our private lives? If they can do this, what can’t they?” Stark, a longtime advocate of government-run health care, gave an honest yet troubling answer: “The federal government can, yes, do most anything in this country.”
Yesterday a federal court in Virginia agreed with the logic, but not the Constitutional understanding, of Stark’s view of federal government power. In the first substantive legal ruling on President Barack Obama’s health regulation law, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson held that the Commonwealth of Virginia raised a valid substantive theory to challenge Obamacare and that its democratically passed Virginia Health Care Freedom Act provided it standing to challenge the federal individual mandate. On the issue of that mandate, Hudson wrote: “Unquestionably, this regulation radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America. … No reported case from any federal appellate court has extended the Commerce Clause or the Tax Clause to include the regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, notwithstanding its effect on interstate commerce.”
Echoing the court’s ruling, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said: “This lawsuit is not about health care, it’s about our freedom and about standing up and calling on the federal government to follow the ultimate law of the land the Constitution.” And it is becoming more and more clear that Obamacare makes it next to impossible for Americans to even track, let alone check, federal power. While the Joint Economic Committee released a report showing that the President’s health law created an impenetrable web of at least 47 new bureaucratic entities, a CRS report from earlier in the month drew an even starker conclusion: “The precise number of new entities that will ultimately be created pursuant to PPACA is currently unknowable.”
How are the American people supposed to check the power of the federal government if even the official research arm of Congress cannot keep track of all the bureaucracies Congress creates? It can’t. The CRS report goes on to say: “Under the new law, the Government Accountability Office must appoint at least 83 new members to six new boards. It is unclear how GAO will be able to independently audit these entities when the [Comptroller General] has appointed their members.” And the matters these new bureaucrats will be regulating are not minor. One such entity, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, is empowered to make Medicare payment policy, including which procedures (like mammograms) the federal government will or will not pay for. And the President insisted on making the IPAB’s decisions virtually impossible to overturn.
As long as President Obama is in the White House, full repeal of Obamacare is not possible. But its web of undemocratic, unaccountable bureaucracies can be defunded. And that is exactly what conservative candidates across the country are promising the American people they will do. This is a good first step, but it is not enough. The Obama administration will stop at nothing to protect the expansion of government. Just last week it wasted $700,000 of your tax dollars on a national cable television propaganda campaign promoting the President’s new law. In the ad, celebrity Andy Griffith tells American seniors that under Obamacare “like always, well have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.” But as documented by FactCheck.org, “the truth is that the new law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts” for the 10 million seniors currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.
The American people are already fighting back against these tactics, and they are winning. In total, 33 states have mounted legal and legislative challenges to Obamacare. The American people are going to continue to fight this intolerable act in Congress, in the courts and in the states. It may take some time, but they are going to win.
Too see how our sister-organization Heritage Action for America is responding to Obamacare, click here.