According to U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, the same government that requires you to buy retirement insurance (via Social Security) is constitutionally barred from requiring you to buy health insurance.
Apparently some idiot lawyers have gotten it into their heads that the Social Security mandate is okay because it’s called a “tax”, whereas the Obamacare mandate is not okay because it’s enforced by what’s called a system of “fines”. From which I infer that if the government taxes you $1000 and uses it to buy you some health insurance, that’s constitutional. Or, if the government gives you a tax credit for buying insurance (after raising taxes to cover the cost of everyone’s credits, of course), then that’s constitutional — just as tax credits for home insulation are constitutional. Whereas if they just require you to buy $1000 worth of health insurance directly, that’s not constitutional even though it has exactly the same consequences as other policies that are constitutional. From which I infer that the law is an ass.
This false distinction is all the more outrageous because unlike the perfectly constitutional Social Security mandate, the constitutionally suspect Obamacare mandate actually serves a legitimate economic purpose. There’s a case to be made that there are a lot of conditions we ought to be able to insure against but can’t, because those conditions manifest themselves before we’re old enough to buy insurance — sometimes even before we’re born. That in turn creates a case for requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions, which in turn necessitates a mandate; otherwise everyone would wait until they’d gotten sick to buy insurance. You might or might not buy that rationale, but at least it’s a rationale. When it comes to Social Security, I can’t see any comparable argument. Unlike, say, cystic fibrosis, old age strikes pretty much everyone.
The U.S. government mandates your retirement strategy. It mandates your hiring practices. If you erect a public building, it mandates the number of wheelchair ramps. It mandates the size of your showerhead, for Christ’s sake. There are at least two significant precedents saying, in effect, that under the Commerce Clause, the U.S. government can mandate any damn thing it wants to. The only exception is health care — the one case where a mandate makes some potential sense.
Don’t get me wrong. I oppose every one of those mandates. But not as vehemently as I oppose a legal system that pretends to have some basis in logic when it is in fact nothing but a bunch of laughably arbitrary decisions based on random and meaningless distinctions that lawyers keep creating so that lawyers can “earn” a living maintaining and interpreting them. The law is an ass, and it deserves a good kicking.