by Jeremy Leaming
The Obama administration’s landmark health care reform law does not run afoul of the Constitution, which sets up a federal government with the ability to productively address a massive national concern, such as its health care system, ACS President Caroline Fredrickson writes in a column for The Tennessean.
Fredrickson’s column appears beside a piece from Susan Lynn, a former state representative, who says the Constitution is strong, but that the document’s main concern is to constrain representatives from doing anything to promote and safeguard the Constitution’s genius.
ACS’s Fredrickson says Tea Party rhetoric about the Constitution is seriously misguided. The founding document does include limits on the federal government, but it also provides for the congressional authority to act in a productive manner for the nation’s general welfare.
The text of the Constitution tells us a lot. Fredrickson writes:
Take a look at Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. And then ask yourself is this a document that seriously limits our federal government? This section of the Constitution gives Congress the power to lay and collect taxes, to pay debts, and “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.’’ It doesn’t end there, the Section grants Congress the power to regulate commerce, create uniform regulations on immigration on bankruptcies, to make money and establish its value, to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,’’ to declare war, to raise and support armies, and to maintain a Navy.
And that’s only a partial list of that part of our Constitution, which ends with this all-encompassing clause: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into the Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.’’ This clause is laudable, for it allows our representatives, albeit in sometimes contentious, plodding fashion, to accomplish work for the nation.
The Constitution, Fredrickson concludes, is not threatened by the Affordable Care Act, which will extend to tens of millions of Americans health care coverage and stop health care businesses from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions. It is well within congressional authority, as laid out in the Constitution, to protect the general welfare of this nation in this manner.
The only thing the Constitution is in danger of is “being seriously misconstrued and understood.”