I spoke with former Tenn. Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2010, in the final days of his term, about President’s Obama’s health care bill, which the Supreme Court this morning essentially upheld.
I’ve written about Bredesen’s thoughts on this in the past, but here again is a snippet of what the governor told me:
“It really in my mind is a new feature of the federal-state relationship. In that it’s this kind of negative space issue. You’re compelling behavior by taxing the absence of it. And I can’t think of anyplace significant where that happens otherwise.
Look, if you can do that, and you can justify it as having to do with economic activity in the country and it’s under the Commerce Clause, it’s hard to imagine what – so, fine, I think every kid ought to get a college education, so we’ll tax the parents who don’t send their kinds to college. That may be an absurd example, but it’s not that far off.
I really believe there’s a lot of usefulness and vigor in our federal system where there are things which the federal government does not have its hand in that states do have their hand in. I really think it’s a real issue. Unfortunately for most of my life it’s been expressed in unfortunate terms, in that states‘ rights has been a synonym for segregation for 50 years. And now, with the tea party, they’re raising this issue, but along with lots of other really over-the-top ones.
I think for anybody, whether you’re liberal or conservative, there are real issues about how far you want the federal government to go.”