Confronted by an angry Tea Partier with a camera Thursday, an Illinois congressman said in front of several constituents at a town hall that he doesn't care whether the new health care law violates the Constitution, as some critics have claimed.
In a video posted on YouTube, Adam Sharp of the St. Louis Tea Party asked Rep. Phil Hare which part of the Constitution authorizes the government to mandate that all Americans buy a private product such as health insurance. The Illinois Democrat replied, "I don't worry about the Constitution on this."
"Jackpot, brother," Sharp said.
Hare cringed in disgust and said, "Oh please. What I care more about, I care more about the people dying every day who don't have health care."
"You care more about that than the U.S. Constitution that you swore to uphold?" Sharp shouted back.
"I believe it says we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Hare countered.
When an observer pointed out that those words come from the Declaration of Independence, Hare said, "Doesn't matter to me. Either one."
When Sharp pressed Hare to answer where in the Constitution government is granted the authority to mandate the purchase of health insurance, Hare said he didn't know.
"But at the end of the day, I want to bring insurance to every person that lives in this country," Hare said.
Sharp said the law won't do that.
The confrontation was the latest example of Democrats going off message in their sales pitch to Americans of the virtues of the controversial health care law.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the health care law would address the "maldistribution of income in America."
"Too often, much of late, the last couple three years, the maldistribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy and the middle income class is left behind," Baucus said after the Senate passed a "fix it" bill to make changes to the health care law.
"Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America," he said. "This legislation will have the effect of addressing that maldistribution of income in America."