(CNSNews.com) - When
Pelosi's press secretary later responded to written follow-up questions from
The exchange with Speaker Pelosi on Thursday occurred as follows:
Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?"
Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told
“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”
Currently, each of the five health care overhaul proposals being considered in Congress would command every American adult to buy health insurance. Any person defying this mandate would be required to pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service.
In 1994, when the health care reform plan then being advanced by President Clinton called for mandating that all Americans buy health insurance, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office studied the issue and concluded:
“The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.”
Later on Thursday,
“Where specifically does the Constitution authorize Congress to force Americans to purchase a particular good or service such as health insurance?”
“If it is the Speaker’s belief that there is a provision in the Constitution that does give Congress this power, does she believe the Constitution in any way limits the goods and services Congress can force an individual to purchase?"
Elshami responded by sending
The release further states: “On the shared responsibility requirement in the House health insurance reform bill, which operates like auto insurance in most states, individuals must either purchase coverage (and non-exempt employers must purchase coverage for their workers)—or pay a modest penalty for not doing so. The bill uses the tax code to provide a strong incentive for Americans to have insurance coverage and not pass their emergency health costs onto other Americans—but it allows them a way to pay their way out of that obligation. There is no constitutional problem with these provisions.”