Uninformed Nebraska Republican Senator Tries to Smear Healthcare Mandate

It's not clear if conservative Republican Senator Mike Johanns is an idiot or if he is just pretending to be an idiot. Here he is, responding to the president's remark that he was confident the Supreme Court would uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act:

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) on Tuesday accused President Obama of "threatening" the Supreme Court as it prepares a ruling on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law.

Speaking a day after Obama warned against "unelected" judges overturning the law, Johanns said Obama crossed the line with his remarks.

"What President Obama is doing here isn't right," Johanns said Tuesday in an interview with local Nebraska radio station KLIN. "It is threatening, it is intimidating."

What is threatening? Is the Supreme Court operating on the assumption that it will never be criticized? Does it think it can nullify the president's signature legislative achievement without hearing a peep of protest from the administration? Wasn't that a duly-appointed member of the administration who argued the case before the Court last week? Is the president saying anything different than his Solicitor General?

Johanns said Obama is wielding an unprecedented level of power through the healthcare law.

"What is the president saying is that he's saying look, I get to decide what's right and wrong for every individual in this country through the individual mandate and there is no judicial review. The courts can't interfere with my power. Well what a second here, that turns upside-down over two hundred years of precedent."

Did the president say there could be no judicial review? Did he not send his Solicitor General to the judicial review"? What precedent is being turned upside-down?

And let's not let that nasty comment about the individual mandate slide, either. Prior to the hearings at the Supreme Court, Sen. Johanns tried to be helpful to his constituents by writing a long explanatory piece on his website explaining the issues at stake. Here's what he said about the individual mandate:

Under specific consideration are the law's Medicaid expansion and what has become known as the "individual mandate": the law's requirement that every American purchase government-approved health insurance or else pay a fine.

You see that part there where he said you could pay a fine? That's a choice, right? Either get health insurance or pay a fine. So, why does Johanns say the following later on in the same piece?

The Court must now decide whether requiring Americans to buy specific goods or services that they would otherwise not purchase is Constitutionally permitted.

Supporters of the law argue the individual mandate falls under the Commerce Clause because those declining to purchase health insurance are engaging in an economic activity. If the Supreme Court upholds this argument, Congress’ power to force Americans to purchase – or not purchase – goods and services will be limitless. That’s a slippery slope and essentially means that from this day forward the Commerce Clause, originally intended to define and limit the scope of Congress’ power, would virtually give Congress a blank check to regulate every aspect of our lives.

Now, how can you be required to do something if you have the alternative not do it? Don't want health insurance? Pay the fine.

But, you might ask, doesn't failure to pay the fine make me some kind of criminal? Well, no. Let's go to the law

‘‘(2) SPECIAL RULES.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law—

‘‘(A) WAIVER OF CRIMINAL PENALTIES.—In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty im- posed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.

‘‘(B) LIMITATIONS ON LIENS AND LEVIES.—The Secretary shall not—

‘‘(i) file notice of lien with respect to any property of a taxpayer by reason of any failure to pay the penalty imposed by this section, or

‘‘(ii) levy on any such property with respect to such failure.’’.

In other words, if you don't want to buy health insurance and you don't want to pay the fine, then you can simply fail to pay the fine. The government can't arrest you or seize your property or put a black mark on your criminal record. So now you have three choices. Buy insurance, pay a fine, or do neither. Isn't the tyranny killing you?

So, we should rephrase this as saying that the government is asking you politely to buy health insurance (and if you have any trouble with that, they'll offer you financial assistance). If they can ask you politely to buy health insurance, is there any constitutional principle that would prevent them from forcing you to buy broccoli? Can you see how stupid that sounds now?

But there is a reason why the insurance mandate isn't a precedent for other mandates. That's because it is an integral part of the legislation that makes it financially possible for for-profit health insurance companies to offer insurance to people who are already sick. You will not find such an awesome use for broccoli. Also, you can go your whole life without eating broccoli, but almost no one can get through this life without needing to see a doctor.

Sen. Johanns should probably know better. But I've seen him speak, and he appears to be one the stupidest men to ever hold high office. Jefferson Sessions makes him look like a brainiac.

Booman Tribune / By Boo Man

Posted at April 3, 2012, 11:10am

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