Sen. Reed: Forcing People to Buy Health Insurance is Constitutionally Justified Because It’s Like Making People ‘Sign Up for the Draft’

Except that only certain age groups are required to sign up for the draft, and you don’t have to pay to sign up for the draft. There are tons of other differences, but anyone with any sense at all can see that this is a really bad analogy. But leave it to the politicians to continually search for a way to force people to buy something they don’t want.

From CNSNews (with audio):

When asked where specifically the Constitution authorized Congress to mandate that individuals buy health insurance, Sen. Jack Reed (D.-R.I.) said that he “would have to check the specific sections” but said that it was like making people “sign up for the draft.”

“Specifically where in the Constitution does Congress get its authority to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance?” CNSNews.com asked Reed.

“Let me see,” said Reed. “I would have to check the specific sections, so I’ll have to get back to you on the specific section. But it is not unusual that the Congress has required individuals to do things, like sign up for the draft and do many other things too, which I don’t think are explicitly contained [in the Constitution].  It gives Congress a right to raise an army, but it doesn’t say you can take people and draft them. But since that was something necessary for the functioning of the government over the past several years, the practice on the books, it’s been recognized, the authority to do that.”

Reed is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which is one of two Senate committees that wrote and approved a version of the health care legislation.  Both House and Senate versions of the bill would require that Americans buy health insurance.

In 1994, when Congress was considering a universal health care plan proposed by then-President Clinton that included a mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance, the Congressional Budget Office studied the issue and discovered that the federal government had never in the history of the United States mandated that individuals purchase any good or service.

“A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action,” said the CBO. “The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”

In an analysis published this July, the CBO said that an attempt to justify a mandate that people buy health insurance by using the Commerce Clause—which gives Congress the power to regulate commerce “among the several states”—raises a “novel issue.”

“Whether such a requirement would be constitutional under the Commerce Clause is perhaps the most challenging question posed by such a proposal, as it is a novel issue whether Congress may use this clause to require an individual to purchase a good or a service,” said the CBO.

In a recent interview with CNSNews.com, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that it was “not constitutionally sound” for Congress to mandate that individuals buy health insurance.

“But here would be the first time where our [federal] government would demand that people buy something that they may or may not want,” said Hatch. “And, you know, if that’s the case, then we didn’t need a ‘Cash for Clunkers,’ all we had to do is have the federal government say you all got to buy new cars, no matter how tough it is on you. You know, they could require you to buy anything. And that isn’t America. That’s not freedom. That’s not constitutionally sound.”

Hatch said that if we let the federal government begin forcing us to buy things we may not want to buy without having a clear constitutional justification for doing so “we’ve lost our freedoms, and that means the federal government can do anything it wants to do to us.”

Here is the transcript of CNSNews.com’s interview with Sen. Jack Reed (D.-R.I.):

CNSNews.com: “Specifically where in the Constitution does Congress get its authority to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance?”

Sen. Jack Reed (D.-R.I.): “Let me see. I would have to check the specific sections, so I’ll have to get back to you on the specific section. But it is not unusual that the Congress has required individuals to do things, like sign up for the draft and do many other things too, which I don’t think are explicitly contained [in the Constitution].  It gives Congress a right to raise an army, but it doesn’t say you can take people and draft them. But since that was something necessary for the functioning of the government over the past several years, the practice on the books, it’s been recognized, the authority to do that.”

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