Where Does Congress Get The Authority To Mandate Purchase Of Health Insurance?

Posted: Oct 22, 2009 3:54 PM
When asked where Congress was given the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) didn't really have an answer -- he just deflected the question by accusing the reporter of asking an inappropriate question.
Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that!
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) at least dusted off the 'old Constitution. He referred to Article I, Section 8, where the the Constitution gives Congress the power to raising taxes to “provide for the … general welfare of the United States.”
Well, in promoting the general welfare the Constitution obviously gives broad authority to Congress to effect that end,” Hoyer said. “The end that we’re trying to effect is to make health care affordable, so I think clearly this is within our constitutional responsibility.
Nice try, Congressman -- except, as CNS News points out, the authority to impose a tax isn't the same as the authority to mandate purchase of a good or service.