Fear the 'Mandate Only' Ruling
A lot of reasonable musing has been done as to whether or not Barack Obama is advantaged politically by the Supreme Court striking down or upholding ObamaCare. But it is plausible that the ultimate liberal goals for the nation are advanced the farthest by a split decision -- i.e., the much-discussed scenario where the Court strikes down only the individual mandate, while leaving the rest of the law in place.
Certainly the mandate -- as drawn up in ObamaCare -- is the most blatantly unconstitutional part of the bill, and therefore it is rightfully considered the low-hanging fruit of legal opposition. But it is far from the most malignant part.
Separate from the mandate, the rest of the bill is awful. It is unworkable, and it hands over our collective futures with respect to life and death to an army of bureaucrats whom we did not elect, cannot defeat, and will never see. In fact, it is elsewhere in the bill -- not in the mandate -- where the Sarah Palin "death panels" reside. When you think it through to its unavoidable conclusion, the entire bill is signing us all up for a ride on the death panel train eventually, and this has nothing to do with the mandate per se.
Consider the NIH in England -- one of the models for ObamaCare. As reported by the Daily Mail, they have a particular "care pathway" impacting over 130,000 patients a year. And this is one pathway that does not require the dropping of breadcrumbs; it is one-way, and the decisions are made in bureaucratic cubicles.
Sound like an overstatement? Consider this: ObamaCare -- even with 2,700 pages -- is amazingly vague. It bestows incredible authority on Kathleen Sebelius to determine when, what, and how this monstrosity will be put into place. She will have hundreds of thousands of DMV-type functionaries carrying out her orders and tens of thousands of IRS agents backing them up. You don't think those folks will have database access to your voter registration info -- or perhaps even your internet search history?
But back to the Court and a potential mandate-only strike-down. Let's work through this scenario.
Off the bat, such a ruling would be considered a win by some in the pundit class for conservatives opposing ObamaCare -- while others would argue that it gives Obama and the Dems a powerful populace issue to run on. Those are both defendable assessments in a purely political sense, and both are probably true to some extent. However, this misses the main calculus likely going on in the White House now.
According to the AP, "the Obama administration plans to move ahead with major parts of the president's health care law if its most controversial provision (the mandate) does not survive." Their sources were "a leading Democrat familiar with the administration's thinking [and] a high-level Capitol Hill staffer. The two Democrats spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid appearing to be out of step with the administration's public stance." Note the wording "out of step with the administration's public stance."
For the record, the official public stance came from David Plouffe, saying on ABC that "we do believe [the mandate] is constitutional, and we hope and expect that's the decision the court will render." Since it is untenable for Plouffe to admit anything else, his comments were predictable. He did not stop there, however, adding that "we obviously will be prepared for whatever decision the court renders."
Prepared, indeed. Perhaps even rubbing hands together in anticipation. As the AP story says, "the remaining parts of the law would have far-reaching impact, putting coverage within reach of millions of uninsured people, laying new obligations on insurers and employers, and improving Medicare benefits even as payments to many service providers get scaled back."
Now think about this for a second. New obligations on insurers? Great, and with no mandate, there are no new customers for them, either. New obligations on employers? No problem. They are the 1% anyway. Scaled back payments to service providers -- meaning doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, etc.? Fine, that serves them right for all those unnecessary tonsillectomies and amputations.
All of this is exactly what Obama and other statist liberals want to accomplish with ObamaCare. It's why they pushed it in the first place! The "mandate only" ruling from SCOTUS is Obama's dream come true.
As the AP puts it, "overturning the mandate would have harmful consequences for the private insurance market. Under the law, insurers would still have to accept all applicants regardless of health problems, and they would be limited in what they can charge older, sicker customers."
In other words, for an industry operating now on 2% and 3% margins, it would be bye-bye. And that's the point. Then we have socialist health care by definition. Totally.
Now anyone using any modicum of business and economic sense understands that ObamaCare really cannot function without the mandate. After all, the revenue from the mandate was theoretically going to fund all of this expansion of coverage. Thus, from a logical and business standpoint, the law cannot stand without the mandate.
But this is not logic. This is not business. This is the Court. And this is politics. Courts make rulings all the time that defy business logic. Even the highest courts in the land do so.
So while I am not predicting a split decision necessarily, I think we would be remiss not to consider it a possibility. And if such a possibility comes about, the liberals will be cheering. They will get to publicly feel put upon and run sanctimonious political ads -- all the while knowing their ultimate goals just got closer.
Be afraid of a split decision. Be very afraid.