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Congressman Rob Woodall

Representing the 7th District of Georgia

WOODALL: The people will have final word on healthcare

July 2, 2012

Original article available here.

I have great respect for the institution of the U.S. Supreme Court, though I absolutely reject the notion that President Obama's health care law is constitutional simply because Congress has the power to tax the American people. As important as all of the legalese in the Court's opinion, however, is a constant refrain of common sense among the Chief Justice's words: elections have consequences.

Chief Justice John Roberts lays this out clearly in the Court's opinion. He writes: "It is not our (the Court's) job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." And he's right.

It's not the Court's job to protect us from our own bad decisions. It's our job to protect ourselves. We must be informed voters and support those candidates with whom we agree. As Americans, we do not want an activist judiciary that substitutes its will for the will of people. The Supreme Court this week rejected a degree of judicial activism, saying in effect: "You voted for it, America; live with it."

In 2010, the American people answered the call to protect themselves from federal government coercion, and they sent nearly 100 new members to the U.S. House of Representatives with a specific mandate to control the size and scope of the federal government so that individual Americans could once again enjoy the freedom and liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. Since I took office in January 2011, I have worked hard to make that mandate a reality. Unfortunately, with respect to the nationalizing of health care decisions, the die was cast in 2008, and despite dozens of successful votes that I have cast in the House over the past 18 months that have repealed the president's health care bill in whole or in part, those bills have been ignored by the Senate and White House.

To be clear, I know that our health care system is in trouble in America. Costs are rising too fast and access is too limited, but a one-size-fits-all solution from Washington has made the problems worse. Costs are rising even faster now, and millions of Americans face losing their health insurance when the President's bill is fully enacted. We must get businesses and governments out of health care decisions, and we must return these decisions to families and doctors. If there are aspects of the President's health care bill that you like or that you think will help America, know this: there isn't one line of the President's reforms that Georgia couldn't adopt and implement on its own. That is the point: we don't need Washington to know best; we have the power right here in Georgia.

The Court didn't uphold the president's health care bill because it is good policy; it upheld the bill because it decided that Congress's power to tax is so big and broad that it can be stretched to include the president's health care mandate. In the Court's opinion, Chief Justice Roberts writes, "Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation's elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them."

In 1773, 342 chests of tea belonging to the British East India Company were tossed into the Boston Harbor. This protest over unreasonable taxation and the abuse of absolute power by Parliament over the colonies sparked the American Revolution. Our Founding Fathers knew firsthand how the power to tax could so easily be misused to exploit citizens and destroy liberty. It saddens me today to know that while 239 years have passed since that fateful night in Boston, the American people will once again have to fight this time from the ballot box for our right of freedom.

Rob Woodall is a U.S. Representative from Lawrenceville.