Bill Evelyns letter to the editor (Open Letter to Congressman Graves) contains some points that I’d like to address.
It’s common practice now to attack federal legislation on the basis of the 10th Amendment, which maintains states rights whenever the constitution has not given certain powers to the U.S. government. This claim ignores the “Commerce Clause” (Article 1 Section 8 of the constitution) which grants legislative powers to the federal government in matters affecting interstate commerce. The clause has been the guiding principle behind legislation that has provided for clean air and clean water legislation, civil rights, the use of navigable waters, among other rulings.
This concept is broad, subtle and debatable and doesnt lend itself to simplistic interpretations, but I think we can agree that it’s important to all Americans that our water and air are clean and support a healthful life for our children and grandchildren. Some claim that this was unconstitutional. Some say that forcing integration was a similar violation and now some would say that healthcare reform travels that same road, but the health insurance industry represents 17 percent of the Gross National Product and, as such, is interstate commerce. When insurance companies create obscene profits while forcing thousands of families out into the streets due to unmanageable emergency healthcare expense, the impact is on everyone. Maybe not directly, maybe not immediately, but eventually, and surely, we all pay when others suffer. This is not just a pragmatic principle, it is spiritual law. We have a moral responsibility to make life viable for all beings.
As for H.R. 3199, The Emergency Medic Transition Act, it contains no mandates on the states as defined under UMRA. The bill simply provides funding and support for states that decide to help returning military medics become certified EMTs. This is good legislation that provides for public security and creates job opportunities for our returning warriors. Opposing this bill as unconstitutional is disingenuous and, at best, simplistic.