Is ObamaCare constitutional? Democrats don't seem to know...
In an op-ed in Thursday's Chicago Tribune, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) targeted alleged hypocrisy on the part of Republicans as it relates to judicial review. Pelosi, of course, infamously sneered at a question about the constitutionality of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and said we'd have to "pass the bill" so we could "find out what is in it." With this kind of record, I can't believe she'd criticize other people on judicial hypocrisy - assuming she actually read the law after it passed.
To be fair, Pelosi does have a legitimate gripe when it comes to the hypocrisy of some Republicans regarding judicial review. However, that does not excuse the misleading nature of the op-ed. Instead of actually defending the alleged constitutionality of the PPACA, the House Minority Leader is continuing the effort by many high-ranking Democrats to avoid addressing the legitimate constitutional concerns in the health care law as they relate to contract law, religious liberty and the Commerce Clause. For example, the same week that the first judge found the PPACA unconstitutional in December 2010, Attorney General Holder & HHS Secretary Sebelius wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that barely touched on the subject of constitutionality. Instead, they led with a sob story about how the law helps a single woman in New Hampshire. Earlier this year, Sebelius authored another Post op-ed that talked about how much money the law would allegedly save - which avoids the elephant in the room and is a lie about the costs of its programs.
It never ends. In March Pelosi said the law is "ironclad constitutionally" and "what happens in the courts is another matter." Earlier this month, the President said the health care law is constitutional because of "existing precedent," even though the precedent he likely referenced, Wicker v. Filburn, regulated action, not inaction. Obama then went into a litany of positive aspects of the law, instead of putting his professor hat on and actually defending its constitutionality.
There are many ways to defend the constitutionality of the PPACA. I disagree with all of them, but some have actual merit, such as those backed by the Necessary and Proper Clause. Few and far between, however, are the high-ranking members of the Democratic Party who will actually go out and use these arguments. Instead, they will talk about the alleged benefits, knowing pulling at the heartstrings of Americans is likely to be more successful in an election year than actually defending the PPACA's legal permissibility. And while their arguments probably won't swing the Supreme Court in their direction, they may just provide the misdirection Democrats need to keep the Senate and the White House in their hands. This, of course, has been the goal all along, given the Court's near-immunity to punditry and political talking points. Keeping the health care law in place is just a bonus.
Dustin Siggins is an associate producer with The Laura Ingraham Show, and is co-authoring a book on the national debt with William Beach of The Heritage Foundation. The opinions expressed are his own.