Show: Freedom Watch
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Hello and welcome to Freedom Watch, your daily dose of raw liberty online at FoxNews.com/FreedomWatch. I’m Judge Andrew Napolitano here, defending freedom, defending your natural rights, and defending your right to have a government that’s stays within the confines of the Constitution.
National healthcare is now the law of the land, and it raises a fundamental question: can the federal government compel any person to have health insurance? Congress will claim that the answer is yes, because Congress may regulate interstate commerce, persuant to power granted to it in the Constitution. But the original grant of this power meant that Congress should keep commerce regular. That is, it should ensure that the staes don’t interfere with commerce by imposing tariffs on the movement of out-of-state goods into the states.
But, over the years, Congress has pushed the envelope and regulated more than just commerce. It has regulated the salaries and working conditions, and the costs of the goods of those who manufacture what moves in interstate commerce. The courts, as well, over the years, have gone along with this.
But the Congress has never compelled individuals to engage in interstate commerce by forcing them to purchase something. My view is that this is clearly unconstitutional, as well beyond the power given to the congress in the Constitution.
Joining me now is one of America’s great defenders of freedom and liberty today, and the author of the bestseller, “End the Fed”, Congressman Ron Paul joins us from Capitol Hill. Congressman, welcome back to Freedom Watch.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Judge.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Can anybody take seriously before all the drama over last weekend, whether or not Congress even has the power to do most of what is in that 2,700-page bill that the house passed by 5 votes?
Ron Paul: No, they don’t take it seriously. Matter of fact, they do believe that they are obeying the Constitution because you hear them on the TV all the time, that the interstate commerce clause gives them the right to do it. And they also say the general welfare clause justifies everything that they’ve done. So no, they don’t lose any sleep over this, and the point that you make about forcing them to buy something is obviously very unconstitutional.
There will be a lot of legislation introduced dealing with this. And hopefully it will get into the courts and clean it up. But in the meantime I am going to introduce one piece of legislation which will be very narrow. And it will be directed towards this mandate of forcing you to buy something. I think I can do that in less than one page, and I think that’s the kind of bill that people understand. So I will be introducing legislation to repeal that provision.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: If your legislation is not passed and if this legislation that the president signed yesterday stays as the law of the land, what do you think is the long term financial impact on this country which is already broke, which is already trillions in debt?
Ron Paul: Well, it just means a lot more bankruptcy, it means healthcare is going to be a lot worse. You know, take the whole idea that you can force somebody to give insurance to somebody, even until they’re 26. Why isn’t that an agreement between the customer and the insurance company? So this will be very costly, and where are they going to get the money? They’re going to either have to get a bonus from the government, or the insurance companies go bankrupt. So these kinds of mandates are all over the place. And, of course, the mandate that is really atrocious is the collection of about $400 billion worth of new taxes. That, of course, is why they are planning to hire 16,500 more IRS agents.
So it is a bad bill all the way around, and it will hasten the day of the bankruptcy of this country, and the American people will have to face that. So it would be a terrible way to bring this to a head. But indeed it will. It will put us in such financial shape, that this country will have to decide, “Do we want to live in a free country, or we want to live under totalitarianism”. And the point that you made about mandating and forcing people to buy something that they don’t want and maybe don’t even need, I think is a major step in the wrong direction.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Do you think that when it actually comes to the bankruptcy of the federal government – well, it’s already bankrupt – an acknowledged bankruptcy of the federal government, before the people who run the Congress today would recognize the economic lunacy of what the president signed into law yesterday. Stated differently, how bad would things have to get before even the Democrats realize that this thing has gone too far?
Ron Paul: Well, countries go bankrupt differently than individuals or companies. They get bankrupt because the banks won’t loan them any more money and they have to pay off the debt. Individuals have to take an extra job and cut spending. Governments and countries never do that. What they do is they print money. And then when the dollar quits functioning, when you see the bond market crack – and there are some slight cracks in the bond market right now – interest rates are creeping up. Someday the bond market, the bond bubble will crash. That means interest rates will go up, price inflation will come warring back. We have the monetary inflation already.
So it will be the economic laws that will declare this. The Congress won’t all of a sudden say, “Hey look, we have to do something”. Because when Congress has a choice there is no serious indication here in this government, and unfortunately on both sides of the aisle, when push comes to shove, they’re not willing to really, really cut anything. Because if you talk about domestic welfare spending and foreign spending, you know, there’s support for both of these types of expenditures. So the people here in the Congress aren’t quite ready. But hopefully the signs that we’re seeing that the people are waking up, maybe we’ll get some help here to do the right thing.
Ron Paul: Do you think, Congressman Paul, that there are many people in the Congress who crafted this legislation, with the burdens that it imposes on insurance carries: like you can’t say no to anybody, no matter what they’re pre-existing condition is. You can’t say no even if they come to you after the onset of the pre-existing condition. You can’t raise premiums to adjust for the pre-existing condition. Do you think that things like that in the bill were written in because there are people who voted for this who really want insurance companies to go out of business, because they want us to have either the Canadian or, God forbid, the British model, where there are no private contracts between individuals and insurance companies, and the government is the sole payer, either as the employer of the healthcare entities, or as the persons, or as the sole third party payer. Do you think that’s what they want?
Ron Paul: Well, I think so. I think there is a bunch of them that like that. I think that may see this as chaos coming, and this will give them a chance next go around to have a one-party payer, which is more total control of the government. So they knew they couldn’t pass that right now, so they did back off. And this is, once again, what I call tokenism; it’s a major token this time. But we’ve been doing this for a long time. I mean we’ve had in the 1940s the beginning of the government involvement in the Hill-Burton episode. And, you know, through the 1950s and 1960s, it’s every decade we have more and more. And, of course, even with the last administration we had prescription drug programs.
But so far they haven’t been able to totally overwhelm the corporations. Corporations have a lot to say about what’s happening: whether it’s a management company, insurance company, the drug companies. They have a lot to say about and their lobbies are strong. So even though there is more mischief and more mandates and more controls, those individuals here in the Congress would like to see a single national healthcare system, and that’s what they’re working on. But let’s hope we wake up before that happens.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Alright. If this legislation accomplishes what the president and his folks say it will, then the 30 or 35 million Americans that don’t have health insurance, soon will. Where will the healthcare providers come from for those folks? And if you could think about this question as well: if you were back at Duke Medical School, would you have the same incentive to become a physician today that you did when you studied medicine?
Ron Paul: Well, I think I’d still have some of the same incentives, because hopefully people will realize that there are some of us who did go into medicine for the right reason. But even with the incrementalism of the 1960s when I first started medicine, government wasn’t that much involved. But I just refused to get engaged in that, because I think what is most important is the doctor-patient relationship. But they claim there will be a lot of doctors drop out, and nobody knows how many will. Because, you know, they have to also think of, “Well, how am I going to make a living?”
They might have training and they have all this expenses to say this is disgusting and drop out. It’s a hard decision. But I would think the better people may well not go into medicine. I think the quality of the physician will certainly go down and that the quality of medicine is obviously going to go down. And we will have more cost containments, more regulations, more rules. We will have rationing of care which happens under all these systems. So, I can’t understand how anybody could be optimistic about the bill that has just been passed.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: I couldn’t agree with you more. Congressman Ron Paul, thanks for joining us on Freedom Watch.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Judge.