So it seems a reporter finally - finally! - asked the most simple and logical question of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
CNSNews.com: “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”
Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”
CNSNews.com: “Yes, yes I am.”
Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told CNSNews.com that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandated that individual Americans buy health insurance as not a "serious question."
“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”
Yes, Madam Speaker, it IS a serious question. In fact, it is probably the most serious question anyone could ever ask. The reason you're flustered, dear Madam Speaker, is because you know exactly what the answer is...namely, NONE. There is NO authority in the Constitution to require people to buy health insurance.
Then to top things off, CNSNews also asked Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy a similar question, and Mr. Leahy was similarly flummoxed.
Leahy...was asked by CNSNews.com where in the Constitution Congress is specifically granted the authority to require that every American purchase health insurance. Leahy answered by saying that “nobody questions” Congress’ authority for such an action.
CNSNews.com: "Where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?"
Sen. Leahy: "We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority?"
CNSNews.com: "I’m asking--"
Sen. Leahy: "Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that."
When CNSNews.com again attempted to ask which provision of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to force Americans to purchase health insurance, Leahy compared the mandate to the government’s ability to set speed limits on interstate highways--before turning and walking away.
CNSNews.com: "But where, I mean, which–"
Sen. Leahy: "Where do we have the authority to set speed limits on an interstate highway?
CNSNews.com: "The states do that."
Sen. Leahy: "No. The federal government does that on federal highways."
Although Sen. Leahy said that "nobody" questions that Congress has the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee did question whether Congress had that authority when the health-care bill was being debated in their committee. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) tried to offer an amendment that would expedite judicial review of the bill were it enacted, but Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D.-Mont.) ruled that Hatch's amendment was out of order.
In making his ruling, Sen. Baucus said the issue should not be considered by the Finance Committee because it came under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee--the panel chaired by Sen. Leahy.
"If we have the power simply to order Americans to buy certain products, why did we need a Cash-for-Clunkers program or the upcoming program providing rebates for purchasing energy appliances?" Hatch asked on Oct. 1 when trying to offer his amendment in the committee. "We could simply require Americans to buy certain cars, dishwashers or refrigerators."