Coercing Individuals but not States (Durham Herald Sun)


Here is the link to my recent oped on the Affordable Care Act in the Durham Herald Sun.

Here is an excerpt…..

Why is it acceptable for the national government to coerce citizens to take action but not the states? This is the important but ignored question the Supreme Court created with its decision on the Affordable Care Act.

The court upheld the individual mandate under the congressional power to tax, but rejected the mandate that would require states to expand Medicaid benefits. The court reasoned that the Constitution protects states, but not individuals, against government coercion.

The individual mandate, or tax, will be levied against individuals who do not purchase health insurance but can afford to do so. A person who can afford health insurance can either purchase insurance or pay a tax. This, the court reasoned, was constitutional under the congressional power to tax.

Alternatively, the Affordable Care Act would have, prior to the court’s ruling, made it mandatory for the states to expand Medicaid coverage with the national government subsidizing the expansion at 100 percent and reducing its contribution over time. If the states did not comply — meaning they did not expand coverage — the national government would take away large chunks of Medicaid funding to that state. The court reasoned that this was coercive and the national government could not force states to comply by threatening to take away funding.

Why is it acceptable to coerce an individual to do something but not a state? This is an entirely separate question from the constitutional one but one that has even greater long-term ramifications if the premise of the decision — that the state is superior to the individual — goes unchallenged.

When the government enjoys more rights than the people, or when the government’s rights trump those of the people, then the people become subservient to the government. Put another way, this means the government no longer exists for the good of the people, but the people for it. One does not need an intimate familiarity with history or a vivid imagination to see what’s wrong with this formulation.

Read more: The Herald-Sun – Why a mandate for individuals but not states

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