by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In a recent issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis, government professor and Claremont Review of Books editor Charles Kesler calls for Obamacare critics to focus their attention on the law’s clear constitutional violations.
The problem with Obamacare is not merely that it will ruin health care, but that it undermines the whole notion of rights—natural rights—that come not from government but from our own nature and from God. Yes, it is unfair, unworkable, and unaffordable. But to leave the argument at that leaves the Constitution out of the picture. So when denouncing Obamacare, let’s hear more about its unconstitutional aspects.
The fattest target is the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB), which is unconstitutional on its face. IPAB consists of 15 members who are not elected by the people but appointed by the president. Their job is to make recommendations to limit Medicare’s budget by reducing reimbursements to doctors. Unless both houses of Congress overrule IPAB by passing their own equal or greater cuts to Medicare, IPAB’s proposals automatically become law. What’s worse, Obamacare conspires to make IPAB permanent by mandating that no resolution to repeal it can be introduced before January 1, 2017, or after February 1, 2017. In other words, the Constitution would be operational for one month only—and even then the repeal must pass by August 15, 2017, in order to be valid, and it could not take effect until 2020!
Congress could presumably unravel these restrictions and undo IPAB anytime it wanted. Nonetheless, the spirit and the letter of this kind of regulation suggest just how averse (and adverse) to the Constitution Obamacare really is. To think that Congress couldn’t repeal it, except for one month, and that even then repeal wouldn’t take effect for three years afterwards, is astounding. Why don’t Tea Party leaders talk more about that in condemning Obamacare? I think the American people would be indignant over this attack on their liberty to govern themselves. But they won’t be angry if conservatives don’t inform them about this travesty.