Saturday, October 9, 2010

ObamaCare mandate, Wickard v. Filburn, and the auto insurance argument

Wheat and the ObamaCare mandate?

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh ruled on 10/07/2010 that Congress has the authority, in regards to ObamaCare, to mandate that individuals carry health insurance. The decision was based in part on a 1942 court decision:

"Steeh invoked the New Deal era case of Wickard v. Filburn (1942), which substantially broadened the authority of Congress to regulate under the Commerce Clause. The high court agreed with the federal government that Roscoe Filburn’s decision to grow excess wheat for himself would affect interstate commerce, because the farmer would not be forced to buy extra wheat under a New Deal regulatory scheme designed to increase wheat prices during the Great Depression. "(1)

Expressed alternatively:

"So the Supreme Court has allowed Congress to prohibit a farmer from growing wheat for his own use and a sick woman from growing her own medical marijuana. The Court majorities have reasoned that the restrictions on intrastate activities are necessary and proper for Congress to be able to control the interstate markets in wheat or marijuana. (Wickard v. Filburn; Gonzales v. Raich)."(2)

Another observation is:

"In just a few perfunctory pages, Judge Steeh dismisses this argument on the theory that the Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate economic decisions, and not just economic activity. Thus, the decision not to purchase health insurance is ripe for regulation. As Professor Barnett points out, "Judge Steeh offers no limiting principle to the “economic decisions” theory," and does not even acknowledge the profound implications of government regulation of all "decisions" that might in some way affect economic activity." (3)

More court challenges

The Michigan case is merely the first of a long line of court decisions to come as the ObamaCare mandate is being challenged on many fronts. Matter of fact, the Obama Administration has attempted to block courts from even considering the constitutionality of the mandate. "So far, the Obama administration is 0 for 3 in its efforts to block courts from considering the constitutional merits of the health control law." (4)

Debating the mandate and auto insurance?

Needless to say the debate over the ObamaCare mandate will resurface as the Steeh ruling is further discussed and the remaining court rulings come to fruition. Along the way you are going to hear a debate point that the ObamaCare mandate is nothing more than the same mandate as owning auto insurance. The rebuttal to this debate point will be that you have the ability to avoid owning auto insurance by merely not owning a vehicle. These debate points have already surfaced on CNBC'S The Kudlow Report on Friday 10/08/2010 as articulated by Matt Miller and Betsy McCaughey. (5) You can view the debate by going to this link:

The debate point regarding ObamaCare mandate and auto insurance

In the coming months, when you hear the debate point put forward that the ObamaCare mandate is akin to owning auto insurance, you should consider the following: that the debate point has a major flaw which is based on "obligation". The debate point makes the implicit assumption that you have an obligation to own auto insurance and hence that same "obligation" exists in the ObamaCare mandate. (6) (7)

The fatal debate flaw is the implicit assumption of obligation. In other words, the debater is hanging their debating hat on auto insurance and the ObamaCare mandate as being equivalent obligations of the buyer. That each buyer of auto insurance has the same obligation as each buyer of health insurance hence "obligation" is being presented by the debater as equivalent obligations regarding auto insurance and health insurance.

What is your obligation to own auto insurance? Your obligation is that of liability to another party, a third party obligation. What is your obligation to own health insurance? Your obligation is to yourself, a first party obligation. Hence one obligation is to a third party whereas the other obligation is to a first party (you). In other words, the debater is comparing obligations that are not equivalent. That is to say, the debater defeats himself/herself by presenting "obligation" as a focal point of the debate then making the incorrect obligation comparison which then negates their own argument.

For further information regarding the "obligation" aspect please visit these two links:










  1. I never thought the car insurance point was valid but it has been equally used by opponents to HC reform: equating buying a car insurance post accident to buying HC after you are sick. Was that not the origination of the argument? If a comparison can be made, it would be more appropriate to have used house insurance. A house owned via a mortgage is required to have a current insurance policy to protect the lending institution against disastrous lost. This homeowner's obligation has societal repercussions in that it protects the value of the neighborhood, the owners from homelessness, all of which would have financial consequences to the public-just like the uninsured.

    Of course, the augment could be made that not everyone has a home but the fact is everyone requires shelter, and health care.

  2. Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written. pret RCA 2013