Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grassley Flips on Health Insurance Mandate

car insurance

Here’s Sen. Charles Grasssley (R-Iowa) in June, telling Fox News that requiring people to buy health insurance is a good idea, analogous to states requiring drivers to purchase car insurance:

There isn’t anything wrong with it, except some people look at it as an infringement upon individual freedom. But when it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principle then ought to lie the same way for health insurance, because everybody has some health insurance costs, and if you aren’t insured, there’s no free lunch. Somebody else is paying for it…. I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates.

And here’s Grassley today, raising questions about the constitutionality of those individual mandates:

For the first time in a 225- year history of the country, the federal government says you have to buy something, and if you don’t buy it, you’re going to be paying $1,500 as a family to the IRS each time you file your income tax until you get at least a minimum insurance….

And the questions raised about that — and, of course, I’m not a constitutional lawyer and I don’t — haven’t studied the law. In fact, I doubt if there’s any cases that would apply to it right now that you could call precedent…. [But] you want to assume that Congress would not pass an unconstitutional law if they knew it was unconstitutional.

When a reporter asked specifically about the difference between a federal health insurance mandate and a state car insurance mandate, Grassley had a ready answer: the 10th Amendment.

The major difference would be the 10th Amendment and what the 10th Amendment says about our federal system of government. It says something like: anything that’s not specifically delegated to the federal government is reserved to the states and the people thereof — all those rights and powers….

So states, if they want to mandate you buy something, they can do it. But that doesn’t give the federal government the right to do it.

The next question was about $50 million in emergency aid the federal government recently showered on the nation’s pork farmers — half of the assistance Grassley had requested.