Const. Issues w/ Healthcare

Constitutional Issues:

On the left, Riverdaughter writes that the health care bill is an unconstitutional violation of her freedom of religion.

With anti-abortion measures, women are not just subject to the state, they are forced to recognize a religious presence in their lives whether they have faith or not. Men do not need to recognize any faith. They are allowed complete freedom of conscience.

In fact, a crisis of conscience is only respected when women decide to end a pregnancy. If religious people decide to kill innocent civilians as the collateral damage in a proxy religious war halfway around the world, the rest of us still have to pay taxes for this endeavor regardless of our crisis of conscience.
Actually, there are two precise parallels for the other side in the health care bill. The absence of a conscience clause means that religious people are also being stripped of their right to freedom of religion: if they are health care workers, they can be forced to perform procedures they find evil. They are forced to participate in a system that is hostile to one of their most basic, personal beliefs.

Further, just as in the 'paying for a war we don't support' metric, the Federal taxes collected will pay for abortion coverage nationwide. Even if your state 'opts out,' you're still on the hook.
Under Reid’s “manager’s amendment,” there is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the Exchange. Instead the amendment includes layers of accounting gimmicks that demand that plans participating in the Exchange or the new government-run plan that will be managed by the Office of Personnel Management must establish “allocation accounts” when elective abortion is a covered benefit (p. 41). Everyone enrolled in these plans must pay a monthly abortion premium (p. 41, lines 5-8), and these funds will be used to pay for the elective abortion services. The Reid amendment directs insurance companies to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage (p. 43), and charge a minimum of $1 per enrollee per month (p. 43, lines 20-22).
So, really, it's "fair." Or, rather, completely unfair, but to everyone equally.

That said, I think she has an excellent idea that I'd love to see adopted as a Constitutional amendment. We need to allow individuals to opt-out of taxes for things they don't support.

I envision something like an IRS form with check boxes for things we're actually willing to pay for out of our pockets. ("Your full tax bill is $21,085. However, if you choose not to support Social Security and Medicare, deduct $12,345, recognizing that any failure to support these programs in any year makes you permanently ineligible for benefits. If you choose not to support the military, deduct $2,109, recognizing that you'll still get the benefits of the Army, you freeloader. If you choose not to support the US Institute of Peace, deduct $25, recognizing that there were no real benefits to be had anyway.") A computerized 1040 should be able to do the math without too much hassle.

Congress would be free to recommend budgetary levels for various program: they could recommend 10% of your total tax bill be devoted to the military (thus, 'deduct $2,109 if you don't support the military.') However, they'd be limited to spending only what came in, and no more. If they absolutely needed more for a given purpose, they could sell a special bond issue for that purpose. If it didn't sell, well, too bad.

I can't think of anything that would be more effective at restraining the size of the Federal government than giving individuals more control over how much money we really send the Feds.

UPDATE: In addition to the First Amendment issues, Prof. Richard Epstein cites some serious Fifth Amendment problems. His argument appears to be that people who have invested in building a corporation, say an insurance company, have a right to just compensation if that corporation is effectively seized as a public utility. There is apparently quite a bit of constitutional law on the subject, and the Reid bill appears to the professor to violate that law in a number of different ways.

As to which, I never did hear a satisfying answer as to how establishing an 'individual mandate' was a legitimate constitutional power of Congress. I'd still like that to be carefully accounted for before we proceed; but failing that, since the concept appears to be to rush this through before it's available for careful accounting, it's another probably source of litigation.

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