The John Adams Public Health Insurance Act
Today appears to be John Adams Day for defenders of the individual mandate in the health bill. FTR, as I have written many times, I find the argument that the individual mandate is unconstitutional to be absurd in the extreme. Frankly, it is not a plausible constitutional objection. It is, in fact, a frivolous argument. That said, I'm not sure the Act for The Relief of Sick anf Disabled Seamen helps the legal argument that much. As Ezra Klein acknowledges:
If you read Rick Ungar's excellent explanation of the bill, you'll see it was a bit different than the individual mandate: It was a payroll tax that all sailors on private merchant ships had to pay, and in return, they were basically given access to a small public health-care system.
Making it Medicare for Sailors. The argument against the constitutionality of the individual mandate has included the idea that requiring the purchase of private insurance is what makes the individual mandate in the health bill unconstitutional and what makes it different from Medicare and Social Security. There is no logic in this distinction with regard to the Necessary and Proper Clause (as this open letter from law professors explains), but courts first decide what result they want, and come up with rationales later. More . . .
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