Last week the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts made the statement that the federal government has the constitutional right to invoke a national mandate for healthcare with a penalty of a fee for noncompliance under the provision that the Congress has the right to tax. Immediately the opponents of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, started describing the legislation as the largest tax increase on the American people with trillions of new revenue now headed to the national coffers.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is now saying that the Supreme Court’s decision provides an even greater incentive for his election and the repeal of Obamacare even though it was modeled in detail after the Massachusetts law that served to provide more coverage to more people implemented by Mr. Romney. Without describing any real policy difference between the Massachusetts law and the version that covers the nation, Mr. Romney says that the problem is that one law provides coverage nationally and the other is at the state level. But can anyone point out the real problem in that difference?
Listening to pundits it appears that the real problem is that under the national plan people who can afford medical coverage will no longer have the freedom to go without medical coverage without financial penalty. People will no longer simply go to the emergency room, rack up a huge bill, and walk away from paying it off leaving the rest of the population to pick up the tab. People who are most apt to talk about being forced to take personal responsibility are actually arguing that a person should have the freedom to avoid the responsibility of providing healthcare for his or her self by having the choice to live in a state without any kind of universal healthcare coverage.
Any argument against President Obama’s prize legislation is valid, regardless of its merit. Previously the opponents argued that the law was unconstitutional and simply waited for the conservative leaning Supreme Court to strike it down. But now that the high court upheld the law, opponents want to act like they’re shocked that the incentive to get people who can afford to buy healthcare but don’t is a financial penalty that Mr. Roberts deemed constitutional based on the taxing and spending clause found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Under this clause, Congress has the responsibility to provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the people.
Now opponents argue that the Affordable Care Act was passed under the pretext that it was not called a tax. But now that it is constitutional based on the tax and spend clause, it’s now even more unacceptable because it’s now a tax where before it was considered just an unconstitutional penalty. A lawful tax is therefore more abhorrent than an unconstitutional penalty.
Now that the law is upheld people are more focused on its repeal than ever. Almost from the very moment that it was upheld money has poured into the Romney for President effort. Mr. Romney promises unequivocally that he will repeal Obamacare and he will take that promise all the way to the bank. People are now giving the good money they could be spending on getting healthcare in an effort to keep their freedom to deny others healthcare. Some people are so hell bent on keeping universal healthcare as nothing more than a liberal pipedream that they would happily pay good money to support the candidate most likely to take that law off the books.
Even if Mr. Romney wins the White House the idea that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed is pretty slim. Now that the Republican legislators have demonstrated the extent they are willing to go to hamper the efforts of a Democratic President, many Democratic legislators will no doubt rise to the occasion to hamper the efforts of a Republican President. Only if the Republicans win the White House, a super majority in the Senate, and maintain the House of Representatives would there be sufficient support to repeal Obamacare and that’s highly unlikely.
Nevertheless, people will hope, dream, and plan for the day they don’t have to fear an impending law aimed to help the public. The United States is one of the last industrialized nations to offer its citizens some form of universal health coverage. We the people who live in the riches country on the planet should welcome the opportunity to join the rest of the industrialized world that provides for the welfare of its populace.
Instead, many of us are talking about defending personal freedom. If we allow the government to mandate healthcare coverage what stops the government from mandating broccoli? The answer is nothing really. If our elected representatives of government decide it is in the best interest of the people to mandate everyone eats vegetables or suffer financial penalty then we better learn to eat vegetables. But if our government reps waste their valuable time and resources on passing such whimsical legislation then it is the duty of the people to step forward and make the changes necessary to set things right again.
However, it really is a poor argument to claim that we can’t submit to a law mandating health coverage out of fear that somebody might pass a law requiring a minimum vegetable consumption. The idea that our freedoms are under attack is nothing more than foolish rhetoric to confound the issue. It ranks right up there with saying that a national mandate is illegal even though we’re nationally mandated to pay income taxes. If we don’t pay those federal income taxes we get penalized. Nobody ever said that the penalty for not paying a mandated income tax was an additional tax on the people.