From Sunshine State News:
Backing Attorney General Bill McCollum’s constitutional challenge to new federal health-care laws backed by President Barack Obama, Benson called the new measures “the slippery slope toward socialized medicine” and said she would continue the fight against it.
That is Holly Bensen, former Health Care Administration secretary and one of three Republicans vying for the post. And according to a poll by the same news source, she is in a dead heat with Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former state prosecutor Pam Bondi. (Of note, I have frequently called Kottkamp the clear GOP frontrunner, but this poll indicates there is no such thing.)
What disturbs me about Bensen's position is that it is not simply politically-motivated but also logically bereft. McCollum has argued that mandating people have health insurance is a burden which violates their constitutional rights, kind of like making people pay taxes. This is stupid, of course, but it's an argument. I don't believe it will hold legal muster, and I don't think McCollum cares. He just wants to rile up the conservative base during the governor's race with an anti-Obama lawsuit he knows will be thrown out, but which likely won't reach a conclusion until his tenure as Attorney General is done.
Bensen, though, doesn't go through the niceties of making up a paper-thin justification. She just calls the reform names. SOCIALISM! What garbage. You don't need to be a lawyer to see the problems with this line of attack.
Of course, health care reform is not socialism. The proposal which could most accurately be labeled as socialism was the public option, but that was dropped during the watering down process our Congress calls legislating. If only this health care package was socialism. Then it might guarantee fairness and equity in the availability of medical care in the United States. Instead, the package signed into law by President Obama was little more than a series of new regulations, most of which won't go into effect until after the end of his first term.
Which gets to the fundamental problem with Bensen's statement. Socialism in and of itself is not unconstitutional. With all the talk among tea partiers of protecting the Constitution and fending off socialism, you would think our Founding Fathers were gripped by a red scare and that Sen. Joseph McCarthy was among the co-signers on the Declaration of Independence. Did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson envision this reform package? Probably not, but they didn't seem pre-occupied with making sure such laws would never get passed in the 13 colonies.
Much of what the American government does is socialism, including the few programs which conservatives so bitterly defend. Forcing all Americans to chip in tax dollars to pay for a police force that watches over our own people? Implementing a National Guard with the right to fire upon and kill this nation's citizens if they cause unrest? Forming a military force capable of imposing the political will of American leaders on neighboring countries based on the supposed notion of protecting America's collective interests? That is socialism. Helping poor people pay for surgery? Not so much.
And yet the creation of a police force and military are not unconstitutional. Why? The drafters of the Constitution were not concerned with socialism. Indeed, even after escaping the tyranny of King George III, our Founding Fathers still found a need for some centralized government and working function of society as a whole.
It is bad enough that an Attorney General who supposedly hates frivolous lawsuits would file suit on a law he simply doesn't like in an attempt to suck up to nutjobs. If we end up with an Attorney General who doesn't understand the basics of what makes something unconstitutional, then we are taking a nearly-impossible-to-find step down.