Paul J. O'Rourke reads us the news:
News: President Signs Health Care Insurance Mandate: A Lesson in American History, Healthcare and the Constitution for 14 State Attorneys General: Let’s begin today’s history lesson with the following news:
(CNN) -- Officials from 14 states have gone to court to block the historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, arguing the law's requirement that individuals buy health insurance violates the Constitution. Thirteen of those officials filed suit in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida, minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The complaint calls the act an "unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states" and asks a judge to block its enforcement. "The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage," the lawsuit states.
The history lesson
In July, 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen,” authorizing the creation of a marine hospital service, and mandating privately employed sailors to purchase healthcare insurance. This legislation also created America’s first payroll tax, as a ship’s owner was required to deduct 20 cents from each sailor’s monthly pay and forward those receipts to the service, which in turn provided injured sailors hospital care. Failure to pay or account properly was discouraged by requiring a law violating owner or ship's captain to pay a 100 dollar fine.... Perhaps these somewhat incompetent attorneys general might wish to amend their lawsuits to conform to the 1798 precedent, and demand that the mandate and fines be linked to implementing a federal single payer healthcare insurance plan. The other option is to name Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison et al. in the lawsuits. However, it might be difficult to convince a judge, or the public, that those men didn't know the limits of the Constitution.... I’m providing a copy of the 5th Congress’ 1798 legislation.
CHAP. LXXVII – An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled - That from and after the first day of September next, the master or owner of every ship or vessel of the United States, arriving from a foreign port into any port of the United States, shall, before such ship or vessel shall be admitted to an entry, render to the collector a true account of the number of seamen, that shall have been employed on board such vessel since she was last entered at any port in the United States,-and shall pay to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen...