To The Editor:
This letter is in response to Mr. Robinson’s letter on June 20, regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Mr. Robinson claims that “the fate of the American people is out of our hands” as the ACA awaits a ruling from the Supreme Court.
The greatest action the court can take to restore our fate to our own control is to invalidate the individual mandate. Unlike Medicare (an entitlement funded by Congress’ taxing and spending power), the individual mandate is a novel exercise of congressional commerce clause power.
Congress claimed, in the ACA, that its authority to enact the law stems from its power to regulate local activities that, in aggregate, impact interstate commerce. To regulate such local activity, however, the regulation must be both “necessary” and “proper.”
Given current Supreme Court precedent, the individual mandate is neither. Upholding the mandate would radically redefine federalism in the United States.
No supporter of the mandate has been able to articulate a coherent, judicially enforceable limit on congressional power if the court adopts the federal government’s legal theory.
Justice Kennedy rightfully noted that the mandate dramatically changes the traditional relationship between citizens and the government. For too long, both parties in Congress have ignored federalism. (Even Republicans are usually mere “fair-weather federalists.”)
However, successful health care reforms in states as ideologically divergent as Massachusetts and Utah, offer hope that individual states can craft solutions that work for them.
State-centric reforms give citizens more control and greater accountability. Only then is our fate truly our own.