Yesterday in a “telephone town hall,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) not only repeated her opposition to Democratic proposals for health care reform, but characterized all federal government incursions into health care as unconstitutional. In fact, she said that attempting reform was nothing more than a “distraction” from more important issues:
FOXX: The Constitution doesn’t grant a right to health care, and most of us are living as much by the Constitution as we can. It also doesn’t give the federal government the authority to deal with health care. As you may know, the 10th amendment, it says if it isn’t mentioned in the Constitution to be done by the federal government, it’s left to the states or the people. [...]
I think one of the problems we have in this country right now is the fact that the federal government is trying to do too much. We need to leave things to the states and the localities. … And unfortunately, we are distracting ourselves from looking after the defense of this nation because we are dealing with issues that should, by right, be the state and individual’s.
Foxx, of course, also thinks the current health care system in America is so “good” that it couldn’t really get much better. “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare,” Foxx said last month. “Everybody in this country has access to healthcare.” (She’s wrong.)
Foxx is right that the Constitution never explicitly says the words “health care.” But as Ian Millhiser has pointed out, Article I does give Congress the power to “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises” and to “provide for….the general welfare of the United States.” “Rather than itemizing specific subject matters, such as health care, which Congress is allowed to spend money on,” notes Millhiser, “the framers chose instead to give Congress a broad mandate to spend money in ways that promote the ‘general welfare.’”
Of course, Foxx doesn’t seem to have a problem with Medicare. When Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) proposed an amendment to kill this government-run program, neither Foxx nor any other Republican voted for it.
Transcript: Read more