Don't Get Drunk at the Individual Mandate Victory Party
The individual mandate is merely the left's latest instrument in the effort to undermine liberty through health care; it is not the primary target. The Supreme Court's decision regarding ObamaCare's individual mandate will be extraordinarily important, and declaring the mandate unconstitutional would be a vital step in thwarting the left's achievement of government-controlled health care in the short term. But constitutional conservatives must be careful not to allow the thrill of possible victory to blind them to the continuing threat coming from progressives determined to put the state in charge of life-and-death decisions for every citizen.
It must not be forgotten that conservatives' distaste for the individual mandate is shared by Barack Obama himself. Prior to his 2008 election campaign, Obama was a clear and unequivocal proponent of full-scale "single-payer" health care -- i.e. of complete government takeover. The individual mandate was proposed precisely as a provisional measure on the road to true socialized medicine. As Obama has explicitly noted within recent days, the need to curry favor with Republicans is the main reason why he chose the individual mandate route in the first place.
When asked on Public Radio International whether there was anything he would have done differently in order to achieve broader public support for his health care law, Obama said:
I would have loved to have gotten it done quicker, uh, which is part of the reason why we designed a program that actually previously had support of Republicans -- including the person who may end up being the Republican standard-bearer, and is now pretending like he came up with something different. It is a program that says, we're going to continue to have a private marketplace for health care, but...
Aside from being a blunt reminder of the challenges conservatives will face with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee, Obama's account emphasizes the fact that this law, centered on the individual mandate, was not what he really wanted. ObamaCare was the left's attempt to wedge open the door for future, broader government incursions into health care. Obama, Sebelius, Pelosi, and the rest of the socialist mob that pretends to be the Democratic Party would be quite happy to let the individual mandate go, if they thought they could get something much "better" -- i.e., true universal coverage of the British or Canadian sort.
This is why it is imperative that now, in particular, at the moment when the mandate is in jeopardy, conservatives become more alert and vigilant than ever on this issue. Obama never wanted the mandate. The mandate was passed as a mechanism to advance the general goal of "universal coverage" in the face of Republican opposition. The unquestionable long-term project, however, was always gradually to inure the public to the related ideas that (a) private insurance companies must be thwarted as the enemies of "fairness," (b) universal health care coverage ought to be a societal priority, and (c) government intervention is necessary to ensure both (a) and (b).
Having eased the public into this general mentality, leftists hope it will be only be a matter of time before the artificial maintenance of ObamaCare's semi-private system begins to seem a superfluous step, leaving evil profit-seeking insurers as middlemen in a process as essential as guaranteeing universal health coverage.
And "universal" means not only that everyone must have it, but that "it" must be provided for every condition the government (not the private insurer) deems "essential." For Obama and the left, that explicitly includes abortion -- conscientious objectors be damned. Obama has been very clear on this point for years, which is why the Catholic Church's recent outrage struck so many of us as a "told you so" moment.
If and when the individual mandate is struck down, expect the Democrats to retool immediately, and to begin proposing a "better solution." The first time, they will claim, they were seeking to accommodate Republicans -- "reaching across the aisle" -- by proposing half-measures that had previously been supported by "many on the right." This time, they will boast, they are going over the heads of the Republican Congress and speaking directly to the American people. Old-fashioned politics failed, they will say; it's time for the people to take their country and their health care back!
And here is where the three years of wrangling over the present bill will really pay off. Remember the three socio-psychological goals of pushing the unsatisfactory individual mandate. Having effectively focussed public disapproval on the mandate, while shifting the health care issue itself away from a concern about costs, and into the arena of "fairness" and "universality," Obama will now have a campaign opportunity to pull a bait-and-switch. Upon the collapse of the mandate, Obama can face the nation and say, "We didn't get it done this time, because I naively tried to do it the Republicans' way. But the problems of unfair insurance practices and millions of Americans without coverage remain unsolved. If you give me a second term, I promise you that I won't fall into the trap of trying to appease the Republicans again. We'll get it done this time, for all Americans."
And so he will, if given a second chance. As Obama has now made crystal-clear, through his private exchange with the Russian president, he needs only to complete his "last election" -- and hence no longer to be accountable to anyone -- to feel the "flexibility" to do those things that he dared not attempt in their boldest form while he still faced public judgment at the polls.
Obama's goal was never an individual mandate. He, like all leftists worldwide, knows that health care is the most powerful means of achieving direct, all-encompassing control over a population. Socialized medicine -- i.e., the "single payer" method, ends individual liberty. It declares the government the owner of your body, and thereby overrides the right to life. And it will be much more difficult to fight legally, because, unlike the individual mandate, the Supreme Court precedent of Social Security will be there to undergird the government's case. Socialized medicine must be stopped at the legislative level -- i.e., in the U.S. Congress.
Will the next Congress have the will, or the numbers, to stop it? Let's hope and pray that we never have to find out.