A constitutional challenge

Sep 142009
Authors: Josh Phillips

As some of you may know, September 17 is Constitution Day, which celebrates the day the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787. Naturally, this upcoming observance caused me to reflect on the document and its ground-breaking strategies in creating and maintaining the rules that govern our great nation.

Recently, I’ve also been talking to friends about the health care reform issue that Obama and his buddies in the White House have been tossing around lately. During one such conversation, I suggested that a nationalized health care plan is unconstitutional, and you can bet that turned heads in the room.

Now, before I continue down this path of unabashed controversy, I want to challenge readers of this column. You need to know what values this country was founded on, and it’s fair to say the public school system has failed each and every one of you.

I want to challenge you to read the Constitution sometime this week. Set aside your homework and other responsibilities for an hour to study the revolutionary document and thoroughly question each clause in each article.

I’ll provide incentive to read the Constitution by attempting to convince you that our founding fathers set certain limits on the federal government that don’t allow them to provide health care.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution explicitly lays out what Congress can and cannot do. Nowhere in this section does it grant Congress the power to create and operate a nationalized health care program.

But you may argue that the Necessary and Proper Clause, which directly follows the listed powers, states that Congress may institute a social health care program. This clause reads: “(Congress may) make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution.”

The key word here is “foregoing,” and it refers to the powers already listed in the same section — again, no health care.

You may be tempted to suggest that Article I, Section 8 does not prohibit Congress from anything, and as such Congress can just run around in its underpants, spreading the wealth and providing free health care for everybody if it wishes.

Fortunately, the founding fathers realized the magnitude of such an error and included a safeguard against bottomless senators running amok. Take a moment to read Amendment X, which states that any power not explicitly given to Congress is reserved by the states.

So the states may choose to institute a socialized program in their own respective governments, but the federal government is restricted from doing so.

And still people argue with me, despite the numerous safeguards against such a disastrous and inefficient government program. Some still argue that the Constitution is a living document and that we can read whatever we want into it.

Sure, it’s living. It can be amended, as is covered in Article V. But you can’t just run around without your clothes during a congressional hearing and expect to be within the bounds of the Constitution.

Now, I don’t want to blaspheme against the word of mighty Obama without at least offering some sort of solution. I agree that health care services in this nation are ridiculously overpriced and take advantage of such exorbitant fees.

I would suggest opening up the market nationwide and force insurance companies to compete with other insurance companies. Supply would eventually meet demand, naturally, and thus the free market would naturally take care of itself.

I wouldn’t raise taxes to implement a government-run health care program that will be handled by the most corrupt people in our society and eventually lead to skyrocketing prices, inefficiency and the expansion of the lowest denominator in our country.

And I’m not against a little government regulation in this area, but presidents like George W. Bush who passed bills such as the PATRIOT Act and senators like Barack H. Obama who attempt to send the U.S. down the path of socialism need to learn when to reread the Constitution.

Which I’m sure you’re all going to do sometime this week, even if it’s for the sole purpose of proving me wrong — in which case, I would still consider this article a success.

Josh Phillips is a senior business administration major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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