Wednesday, February 02, 2011

To everything...there is a season

Last year’s health care reform act (Obamacare if you will) is two for four in legal tests of its constitutionality, with the latest result playing big in the media.  A district court judge has ruled that the “mandate” that people must buy insurance is not allowed under the Commerce Clause or the “necessary and proper” language of the Constitution. 

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all legal on you; but, the feds can indeed provide health care for every living soul in the country if they want to, they just didn’t do it the right way if the most recent judge weighing in on the question is right. 

The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes … to … provide for the … general Defence and Welfare of the United States….”  U.S. Constitution, Section 8, Clause 1.

Translated, this means that using the same analysis that makes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid constitutional would make universal health care constitutional.  Lay and collect more taxes and then spend them on the legally rational, whether or not wise, proposition that the general welfare of the country would be increased by a more healthy population.

Health care, like most issues, at its heart is a political question.  Over the centuries we decided that a large, global influence wielding military is a good idea and have taxed ourselves heavily to accomplish the goal.  The same is true of railroads, airports, interstate highways and the previously mentioned retirement and more limited health programs.

The Gallup does a yearly poll on health care.  Here’s the link to the November 2010 poll.

The first graph in the poll is interesting.  People thinking health care is a government responsibility peaked in 2007 at 69% and declined to 47% last November, the lowest percentage since 2000.  There are lots more poll questions.  Maybe they explain the decline in popular support for universal health care.

Whatever the reason, there is no majority of support for, much less a mandate for health care for all of us – the Republicans are on to something, or the cause of it?  We, at best seem ambivalent these days.  For whatever reason, it may be that the chance for it was missed.  Cheer or jeer as you will.

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