Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Individual Mandate - The Best Worst Thing

I love it. It’s absolutely terrific. But the SCOTUS absolutely, positively must strike it down.

Obamacare is a mess. Everyone knows it, including the parade of dreamy liberals who sing its praises. Real progressives don’t like it because, in their view, it doesn’t go far enough. But then, for them, nothing goes far enough. The only progressive answer to a question of any subject: “How much is enough?’ is simply “More.”

I suspect the biggest reason so many people support Obamacare is simply because it provides free health care to people who can’t (or won’t) pay for it. When discussing Obamacare with a good friend of mine I mentioned the 6M reasons why Obamacare is bad, and his response was, “Well, it’s a start. If it doesn’t work out well they will fix it.” He is, of course, one of the many who think poor people should get free, quality health care and believe if we just tax the rich all our problems will be solved. And, of course, that government can fix everything.

So, everyone is waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision as to whether the individual mandate is constitutional. While it isn’t guaranteed the whole bill will fall if the IM fails to pass constitutional muster, it is likely that, with its teeth knocked out, the bill will whimper off into the darkness; at least temporarily. I say temporarily because as long as the beast is still alive, a future heavily Democratic government could change the IM to a tax and Presto! Obamacare is back! That is why it’s important that the SCOTUS knocks out the whole bill.

As a side note, it is somewhat humorous that for political purposes Obama, Reid and Pelosi chose to call this obvious tax something other than a tax. Had they called it a tax, legal challenges would be considerably weaker. But, true to their arrogance and cockiness, they insisted to the Nth degree that it was absolutely not a tax. AG Holder is now trying to slide the Court by the tax issue by claiming it should be treated as a tax for purposes of this case. But the insistence that it was not a tax in the drawing of the bill sounds like attempting to recant a confession. Which leads us to ask: if Holder is successful in his claim, will Obama still try to convince the American public that it is not a tax?

There’s a real dilemma concerning health care in this country that is never adequately addressed. Since the courts have already decreed that hospitals cannot deny emergency medical care (which tends to be costly) simply because someone cannot pay for it, poor people are getting emergency health care anyway, with or without Obamacare. And, many uninsured go to the emergency rooms for non-emergency situations where medical facilities treat them for common illnesses and conditions. How do we pay for that? (Hint: you and I.) Is it right that we “force” people to pay for their own medical care? Is it right that we simply give them a couple of aspirin and throw them out on the front lawn to rot? Heartless or not, responsible or not, it is hard to actually accept that as either just or practical. And, even if you don’t agree with that opinion, the courts have decided the issue, so it is what it is.

In principle, I absolutely love the individual mandate because it attempts to deal with that issue, and it’s intent was something most of us conservatives approve of – making people pay their own way. Similar to the rest of the bill, however, the IM is poorly thought out and woefully inadequate.

And unconstitutional.

Of course, you and I don’t get to demand what is and what is not unconstitutional; only the Supreme Court can do that when called upon. Nevertheless, the constitution has been beaten to death for so many years by those who think it is a “flexible, and a living, breathing document” that what will be deemed constitutional to the Supreme Court is anybody’s guess.

The constitutionality issue centers around the commerce clause, which authorizes Congress to establish certain commerce standards between states. The obvious meaning of this is to have some oversight on things such as taxes and the legality of different products and trades, and to establish standards that allow for continuity and harmony in our overall economy. It was never meant to require people to buy anything. However, the commerce clause leads the way in being misinterpreted by the courts, and, unfortunately, the IM may be seen as merely an additional stretch of its interpretation.

The upcoming case concerning the IM will be monumental in our country’s history. The court has a chance to strike down an unpopular bill that, if allowed to take full effect, will complicate the health care industry, drive up costs, reduce services, and go a long way towards making us a fully socialist country.

Even more important, however, is the concept of the government being the CEO of our personal lives, and dictate to us what we must buy, how much we will pay, and how we will handle our own personal finances.

There is potential really good news here. If the SCOTUS finds the IM to be unconstitutional, it will put serious brakes on the speeding deterioration of our personal freedoms under the guise of the commerce clause. Future courts would have a bigger hurdle to jump in order to extend the authority of the government to penetrate deeper into our personal lives. True, future activist courts can undo or bypass the reasoning of the decision, but that would be difficult. In this respect, the whole issue may wind up to be more than a break-even for conservatives. It might actually be a big win. Slowing the recklessness of the Federal Government in failing to adhere to the constitution would be a victory that might even make us delighted that the whole debacle came up in the first place. In fact, such a ruling by the Supreme Court would have a benefit that the alternative solution -- a GOP repeal of the bill -- would not have: putting the brakes on the commerce clause.

There is also potential really bad news. If the SCOTUS decides the IM is constitutional. Not only do we get to keep Obamacare, we get unlimited future personal economic decisions forced down our throats.

We cannot throw people out on the street if they don’t have health insurance. Obamacare, however, is not the answer. There are ways this can be accomplished such as low cost clinics that provide only basic services and cannot be sued under any circumstances other than willful intent to harm, use of nurses and trained technicians in these clinics that can perform much of the duties currently performed only by MD’s, and requiring a copay, even if minimal. I’m sure there are many good ideas out there. Just ask Paul Ryan.

Yes, as good as the intent of the individual mandate is, it is the worst part of the bill because of its long-term effect on future legislation of any nature, and must b struck down. Our economic freedom is at stake.

No comments:

Post a Comment