Constitutional Healthcare: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Has Claimed That the Federal Government's Intervention into Healthcare Is Justified by the Interstate Commerce Clause

By Kenny, Jack | The New American, November 23, 2009 | Go to article overview

Constitutional Healthcare: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Has Claimed That the Federal Government's Intervention into Healthcare Is Justified by the Interstate Commerce Clause


Kenny, Jack, The New American


The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was apparently dumbfounded recently when a reporter asked about the constitutional authority for requiring people to buy health insurance, as mandated in the healthcare reform bills before Congress.

As reported on CNSNews.com, the exchange between the reporter and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was as follows:

"Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?"

"Are you serious? Are you serious, came the Speaker's inscrutable reply.

"Yes, yes I am," the CNSNews.com reporter answered. Pelosi then simply shook her head and took a question from another reporter. Pelosi's press secretary, Nadeam Elshami, later said that asking the Speaker where the Constitution authorized the mandate in the health bills was not "a serious question."

"You can put this on the record," the news organization quotes Elshami as saying. "That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question." The spokesperson later responded to written follow-up questions, CNSNews.com reported, with an e-mailed press release on the "Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform," claiming congressional authority for the mandate may be found in its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A "Health Insurance Reform Daily Mythbuster" press release, originally issued from Pelosi's office on September 16, claims one of the "myths" about the House bill called "America's Affordable Health Choices Act" is what Pelosi called "the nonsensical claim that the federal government has no constitutionally valid role in reforming our health care system--apparently ignoring the validity of Medicare and other popular federal health care reforms." The Speaker acknowledged that under the House bill "individuals must either purchase coverage (and non-exempt employers must purchase coverage for their workers)--or pay a modest penalty for not doing so. The bill uses the tax code to provide a strong incentive for Americans to have insurance coverage and not pass their emergency health care costs onto other Americans--but it allows them to pay their way out of that obligation. There is no constitutional problem with these provisions," she concluded.

Parrying Pelosi

Pelosi categorized as "myth" the argument that the health-insurance legislation violates the Constitution's Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states or to the people those powers not delegated to the national government. "But the Constitution gives Congress broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce," Pelosi argued. "Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life, from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production. Since virtually every aspect of the health care system has an effect on interstate commerce, the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited."

Pelosi cited a pair of Supreme Court decisions that upheld the power of Congress under the commerce clause to ban racial discrimination (Katzenbach v. McClung) and to forbid the growing and sale of marijuana for medical use where state laws allow it (Gonzales v. Raich).

But a 1994 Congressional Budget Office analysis of the budgetary impact of healthcare legislation then before Congress included a finding that an act of Congress requiring individuals and employers to purchase health insurance or pay a fine would be unprecedented. In the words of the CBO memo: "The imposition of an individual mandate, or a combination of an individual and an employer mandate, would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The appropriate budgetary treatment of such a policy therefore has not been addressed."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The healthcare reform efforts of the early nineties were never enacted by Congress, and popular resentment of what was seen as excessively intrusive regulation, promoted by the Clinton administration, contributed to a Republican landslide and takeover of Congress in the 1994 elections. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Upgrade your membership to receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad‑free environment

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Constitutional Healthcare: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Has Claimed That the Federal Government's Intervention into Healthcare Is Justified by the Interstate Commerce Clause
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved in your active project from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.