Mitt Romney has repeatedly insisted that the Tenth Amendment and the principles of federalism forgive Romneycare. Many question this assertion, but to date, Romney has dodged and evaded it. While the media continues to talk about contraception, Rush Limbaugh, and every evasion they can imagine, but none have asked Romney any question in opposition to this premise. I want to know when the media will finally get around to vetting this, but it seems they have bought the lie that since Romneycare happened at the state level, it’s somehow different. That’s not the case, and it never will be, but for the willing media that simply refuses to address this issue. In order to make this plain, I am going to explain once more why Romneycare is not excused and may not be forgiven on the basis of federalism.
The principle of federalism exists because of the way in which our nation was formed. Our constitution is best compared to a contract in partnership among the several states. In this sense, the states are superior to the Federal government they created, in precisely the same way that the individual retains sovereignty even after entering into a partnership. A contract of marriage is another similar concept. On the grounds of the marriage compact, one spouse does not gain the authority to coerce the other to an action. When such things occur, there’s generally a dissolution of a partnership or a divorce in marriage. Of course, the Civil War set a precedent in this regard with respect to the states, but the principle is sound even if our observance of it has not always been the most faithful.
What Mitt Romney argues with respect to his health insurance reform plan in Massachusetts(hereafter: Romneycare) is that the state of Massachusetts is eligible to do to individuals that which the Federal government may not. The problems with this argument are many, but let us focus on just a few. First, the Tenth Amendment doesn’t offer protections solely to the states, but also to the people. In fact, one could also argue that the Ninth Amendment, also applies. Here are the Ninth and Tenth Amendments:
- Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- Tenth Amendment – Powers of States and people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
These are important parts of our Constitution, and while many of our children will study the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth, sadly, the others are frequently neglected. The Ninth simply states that just because a right wasn’t specifically addressed in the Constitution does not mean it does not exist. In effect, citizens could rightly claim all manner of other rights under the auspices of the Ninth, and they have. The Tenth is considered to be a strong pro-federalism Amendment, reserving power over all matters not specifically mentioned to the States, or to the people. What this means is that the Federal Government cannot come along and create whatever laws it wants, without respect to the sovereignty of the individual states, or to the individual people residing in them.
To be perfectly frank about this, if we applied the Tenth amendment more strictly, as should have been the case, many Federal laws now in existence would be tossed out as violations. That said, what Romney claims is that the State can do to individuals that which is forbidden to the Federal Government. Again we return to the Civil War as a precedent, but we needn’t go that far. We need only go back to the 1960s, when Kennedy sent the Feds to enforce the rights of individual citizens against the State government in Alabama, led by Governor George Wallace. Notice that the Tenth Amendment had no application there, since the rights being protected were recognized by the Federal Government, and disparaged by the State.
Here starts the trouble. Romney argues that unlike the Federal Government, that must abide by a commerce clause that forbids the Federal Government from interfering in intrastate commerce, by enumerating interstate commerce alone, the state of Massachusetts is under no such restriction, and in fact is merely exercising its authority over intrastate commerce. Romney, his shills and his supporters all claim that this is just like automobile insurance. Most states in the United States mandate some form of auto insurance, but this is a deception too. The states may not compel anything beyond liability insurance. They cannot force drivers to purchase collision insurance, comprehensive insurance, road hazard insurance, or anything of the sort. They may only compel the purchase of liability insurance(and most states permit a liability bond of self-insurance,) and only because the vehicles to be operated are to be operated on the public roadways. On your private property, the state has no such authority. Therefore, the authority of the state to compel the purchase of insurance(or posting of bond) is contingent upon your use of the public roadways, but their ability to compel is limited to liability insurance.
Once you understand this, the argument of Mitt Romney evaporates. The mandate in Romneycare compels the individual to purchase insurance that he may never use, but most importantly, insurance to cover his own injury or loss. This is the equivalent of forcing you to insure your lawn-mower against losses that only you might incur(damage, theft, etc,) or insuring your car against yourself with a sledgehammer in your driveway. The State cannot compel the purchase of such insurance, and the reason is simple: The government has no interest in it, and thus no standing. The claim of Romney and other statists is that the state does have an interest, by virtue of the fact that you might show up and demand healthcare irrespective of your ability to pay.
This is a result of the legal requirement by the Federal Government that an emergency room cannot turn persons away for lack of ability to pay. Effectively, what Romney and those like him argue is that because the hospitals may be coerced to take non-paying patients, that this then gives the state the authority to compel all to insurance. This is like arguing that because some people commit robberies, we ought to be compelled to purchase pre-paid legal services, one and all, or that because some people may be bitten by rattlesnakes, we all ought to carry around a snake-bit kit, and redistribute the costs on a uniform basis.
This is absurd, and in fact, this is the root of the Romneycare scam, and what you have is really the result of an unjust law that requires some people to provide services to others irrespective of their ability to pay. Imagine somebody walking into the grocery store and filling their cart or basket and then walking out without paying on the basis that everybody needs to eat. Of course, we’ve short-circuited this too through the foodstamps program. In truth, with medical care, we’ve short-circuited this with Medicaid and Medicare, and much of the unpaid medical bills are generated by people who find themselves uncovered by situation. All of it is really socialism, writ large, and Mitt Romney’s attempt to pretend otherwise is a shame, but the fact that the mainstream media permits him to evade the subject with talk of federalism and “states’ rights” is a damnable scandal.