Emmett Tyrrell

Liberals and conservatives seem to see things differently. Sometimes the liberals see "inactivity" as "activity." The conservatives see inactivity as ... well, inactivity. In the case of Obamacare, the liberals see the ordinary Americanos' failure to purchase insurance, sometimes until they absolutely need it, as increasing the cost of health care for everyone -- in other words, "activity." Thus, they will penalize anyone failing to buy health care with a tax to pay for God knows what. In the world of Obamacare, we all have costly health care. Some pay, and some do not. We are all one big happy family.

This is where the commerce clause of the Constitution comes in. The commerce clause originally was intended to eliminate the interstate trade barriers that existed under the Articles of Confederation. Yet since the New Deal -- at least up until the time of Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- it has been expanded upon so that it has given license to almost anything a congressional majority has wanted. A congressional majority even was permitted by the Supreme Court to prohibit a farmer from growing on his own farm wheat for his own consumption. Now along comes Judge Vinson arguing that the commerce clause applies only to "clear and inarguable activity ," not clear and inarguable inactivity. As The Wall Street Journal editorialized in the wake of Judge Vinson's decision, "it never applied to inactivity like not buying health insurance, which has (to quote Judge Vinson) ' no impact whatsoever ' on interstate commerce."

Applying the clause to inactivity would be significant. It would create a totally centralized government. That is to say, a government that can do almost anything. It would be unlimited government, which is another difference between conservatives and liberals. We want limited government. They do not.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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