Can Congress Make You Buy Broccoli?

The New England Journal of Medicine recently addressed the question of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (aka, ObamaCare), prompting Dalrymple to weigh in at Pajamas Media:

The Affordable Care Act enjoins millions of citizens to buy private health insurance. The authors say that it is difficult to decide whether refusal to buy such coverage counts as an activity that bears on interstate commerce.

The administration claims that it does. After all, failure to buy insurance has as many economic consequences as does buying it, perhaps even more consequences for third parties. But the problem with this argument is that it is totalitarian in its corollary. Every single decision to purchase or not to purchase something has economic consequences. Prudence in not living above one’s means, for example, lessens aggregate demand, at least for a time. Can you therefore be forced to take out a loan to buy something you don’t need in order (supposedly) that the economy should revive? This would give monstrous power to legislators, even if, as is impossible, they could be relied upon to use it wisely.

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