If You Like Your ObamaCare, You Can Keep Your ObamaCare
Twenty years ago while discussing HillaryCare, a college professor friend informed me that Mrs. Clinton's comprehensive plan to overhaul America's health care system would work just fine because the federal government would require everyone to buy health insurance. Being a lover of Liberty, I was taken aback by this, especially since the professor delivered his opinion as though it were no more controversial than the states' requirement that motorists get safety inspections for their cars. That conversation two decades ago may be my oldest memory concerning the individual mandate, and it's stuck in my craw ever since.
In 2009, a CNS News reporter asked then Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): "Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?" Madam Speaker responded: "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
Americans now know due to the good graces of the Supreme Court that Congress cannot command the People to buy health insurance. The Court affirmed that Congress has no authority under the Constitution to make such a command; the Commerce Clause does not extend that far. The ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius laid waste to the entire intellectual underpinning of the individual mandate, the supposed linchpin of the law. In his column "Conservatives' consolation prize," run on June 28, 2012, the day the Court delivered its ruling on NFIB, George Will wrote:
If the mandate had been upheld under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court would have decisively construed this clause so permissively as to give Congress an essentially unlimited police power -- the power to mandate, proscribe and regulate behavior for whatever Congress deems a public benefit. Instead, the court rejected the Obama administration's Commerce Clause doctrine. The court remains clearly committed to this previous holding: "Under our written Constitution... the limitation of congressional authority is not solely a matter of legislative grace." [Italics added.]
And in another column, "Why Roberts did it," that also run on June 28, 2012, Charles Krauthammer wrote:
Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result -- a 5 to 4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political. [...]
Result? The law stands, thus obviating any charge that a partisan court overturned duly passed legislation. And yet at the same time the commerce clause is reined in. By denying that it could justify the imposition of an individual mandate, Roberts draws the line against the inexorable decades-old expansion of congressional power under the commerce clause fig leaf.
Law upheld, Supreme Court's reputation for neutrality maintained. Commerce clause contained, constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed.
I was reminded of the above must-read columns from a year and a half back because on January 2, American Thinker ran "The Roberts Trap is Sprung" by Bill Dunne:
Law rewritten on the bench has seldom had such a glaring example. In effect, Roberts single-handedly forced all Americans to face -- up front and personal -- the epic political malpractice that is ObamaCare. "It is not our job," he added, "to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."
Dunne urges us to imagine what would have ensued had Roberts ruled as expected and overturned ObamaCare. I'm not sure if Dunne is correct in his speculations, but conservatives wanting to recapture the U.S. Senate should consider them.
Maybe America must undergo all the current unpleasantness of canceled policies, sticker shock, denied access, etc. so that folks can see what an ugly mistake ObamaCare really is. As H.L. Mencken put it: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." I'd say that with ObamaCare, Americans are getting it "good and hard" right about now.
As yet more cases wend their way to the Supreme Court to challenge the legitimacy of ObamaCare, Mr. Dunne's article elicits a question: For the health of the republic, what's the best way for ObamaCare to die -- reversal by the Court, repeal by Congress, rebellion and noncompliance by the States and individuals, or something else?
Having already found ObamaCare unconstitutional on two counts -- the individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid -- if the Court found more aspects of the law to be unconstitutional, they'd be in a better position today to say: three strikes and you're out. Were the Court to actually strike down ObamaCare, with our current "government by decree" where the president feels free to exempt, postpone, waive, etc., might Obama just ignore the Court and continue enforcing his law?
This conservative wants to see ObamaCare dead, but maybe not just yet. Let Americans see what they voted for; let them have it "good and hard." If you like your ObamaCare, you can keep your ObamaCare. At least, that is, until the system collapses or your insurance premiums become unaffordable.
I'm not sure what way is best, but the times may be much more propitious for ending the thing now that Americans are seeing what they bought. One of the things they bought, buried deep within the text of ObamaCare, is another bailout, this time of the insurance industry. On The Kudlow Report on Jan. 3, Larry mentioned this new bailout (video) and cited an article by Dr. K. that ran that day, (the good doctor writes an Rx to prevent bailout).
If Democrats were a serious bunch, after their stinging rebuke in NFIB, which made them look like liars and fools, they would have immediately moved to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety and start all over, this time with bipartisan buy-in and input. An apology would also have been in order. Instead, they chose to force the carcass down our collective craws.
Democrats don't seem to understand the enormity of what they did with ObamaCare. You see, ObamaCare is consistent with socialism, and a particularly nasty variety of socialism at that, a type of socialism more akin to 1930s Europe than to today's America. ObamaCare's economic system is corporatism; it has nothing to do with free market capitalism. Big Government has climbed into bed with Big Labor and Big Business. Forget small business and the individual; they get mandates. But corporations and unions get waivers, exemptions, subsidies. Welcome to the new, improved Amerika, where one sixth of the economy is controlled by government geniuses.
NFIB is a landmark ruling because it limits the power of the central government. While I've praised that aspect of NFIB, I've also criticized it for letting ObamaCare stand, even mocking it with a piece on "the Roberts Tax," (although I still stand by my tax advice). But after reading Dunne, I now see that I might owe the Chief Justice an apology.
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.