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InsiderOnline Blog: March 2012

ObamaCare Case Is About Liberty, Not Just Health Care

Imagining what else Congress might do with the power to compel commerce, as Lee Harris does (The American, March 28), helps illustrate the constitutional problem with Obamacare’s individual mandate:

Imagine that our current recession goes on, or even takes a turn for the worse. […] The bulk of Keynesian economics was to figure out how to get people back to spending their money on stuff, i.e., to increase the aggregate consumer demand. For example, Keynes told governments that they could cut taxes, lower interest rates, decrease the real value of wages through imperceptible inflation, provide stimulus packages, or build highways and even pyramids, all of which were ultimately designed to get people to go back out shopping for things. […]

But what if the president had a new super-Keynesian tool—a Congress that had been granted unlimited power to regulate economic activity and/or economic decisions? Under these circumstances, in the midst of a deepening and intractable depression, there would be a temptation to create a legislative solution that would be quite simple in principle. According to an index of their income, people would be mandated to purchase a certain amount of consumer goods. If they fell below this amount, they would then be compelled to pay the government a penalty. Of course, the government would not need to tell us what to buy—only how much of it. Later, other economic emergencies might come along that required more governmental fine-tuning of our individual economic decisions. But there would be no need for a confrontation with the Supreme Court over whether Congress had the power to regulate these decisions, because, according to my scenario, we are imagining an America where ObamaCare had already established this principle once and for all, after being upheld by the Supreme Court.

Posted on 03/28/12 03:57 PM by Alex Adrianson

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