Once again: The Republicans never meant a word they said in objecting to the individual mandate.

Monday, June 18th, 2012 @ 2:00 pm | Politics

Ezra Klein with the historical breakdown on the genesis of the individual mandate in the Republican Heritage think-tank, its championing by Republicans as a free-market alternative to single-payer, and its immediate disavowal upon being embraced by President Obama.

On March 23, 2010, the day that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, fourteen state attorneys general filed suit against the law’s requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, on the ground that it was unconstitutional. It was hard to find a law professor in the country who took them seriously. “The argument about constitutionality is, if not frivolous, close to it,” Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law-school professor, told the McClatchy newspapers. Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, told the Times, “There is no case law, post 1937, that would support an individual’s right not to buy health care if the government wants to mandate it.” Orin Kerr, a George Washington University professor who had clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, said, “There is a less than one-per-cent chance that the courts will invalidate the individual mandate.” Today, as the Supreme Court prepares to hand down its decision on the law, Kerr puts the chance that it will overturn the mandate—almost certainly on a party-line vote—at closer to “fifty-fifty.” The Republicans have made the individual mandate the element most likely to undo the President’s health-care law. The irony is that the Democrats adopted it in the first place because they thought that it would help them secure conservative support. It had, after all, been at the heart of Republican health-care reforms for two decades.

The scumbaggery is jaw-dropping just for the sheer political reversal founded on nothing other than fear of a successful Obama presidency, but Republicans may pay the price if their stacked Supreme Court acts like a bunch of hacks and tosses out the bill, leaving millions of Americans still needing health insurance with no obvious way to compel healthy people to join until they get sick.

But man, the scumbaggery of it all is enough to invalidate the Republicans as a responsible governing party. Nothing means anything to them, other than a big shiny R on the winning team.


23 Responses to “Once again: The Republicans never meant a word they said in objecting to the individual mandate.”

  1. George Says:

    Hopefully the Supreme Court will uphold the Constitution and strike ObamaCare down in its entirety.

  2. Henry Whistler Says:

    Would you mind addressing substance, please? Mouthing propaganda slogans just kind of shows that you’re a cynical asshole. Which we already know.

  3. George Says:

    Wow, expressing a desired outcome is met with personal attack and nonsense! What a surprise.

    You never address substance yourself, so you demand it of me?

    Double standard, hypocrite, liberal tactic.

    What substance did you provide in the blog post? Calling what you don’t like, “scumbaggery” is substantive? Pretending Obama is successful is substantive? No, it’s b.s.

  4. mike g Says:

    You’re free to explain why the ACA is unconstitutional at any time, George.

  5. AJKamper Says:

    Heck with that; a principled argument can be made why it’s unconstitutional, though I doubt George is capable of it. But I want to hear why Republicans and the Heritage Foundation were so pro-mandate until Obama suggested it.

    I illustrated this elsewhere the other day: their arguments are all about individual liberty (like the freedom to not eat broccoli), which has NOTHING to do with the grounds on which the ACA might be overturned.

    Republicans didn’t care about this when they suggested it… but now they do, because they stand to lose political points otherwise. And to the extent that this reversal is intentional, yeah, it’s scumbaggery.

    So justify the switch, George. I dare you.

  6. Henry Whistler Says:

    Exactly. Why did it only become unconstitutional the moment a Democratic president embraced it? Because the Constitution had nothing to do with it.

    But George doesn’t want to have that debate, because it’s such an obvious loser.
    He just pushes on yelling UNCONSTITUTIONAL because lacking a coherent argument, he resorts to repetition of his conclusion.

    You desire the outcome you’re advocating because you hate Democrats and Obama more than you could ever care about the Constitution. Had Mitt Romney won the 2008 election, we would have seen the same bill pass and it would have never seen a courtroom.

  7. Jldmeyer Says:

    The principle argument of “forcing” businesses to provide health care is against the freedoms guaranteed in our constitution is weak. Please. Spare me that argument. Where is that freedom in the constitution when it comes to gay marriage, abortion and smoking pot? Please explain to me the principles of freedom within our constitution that says one freedom is more deserving than another. And one need not look any further than Iowa for the truth of how Republicans feel about the constitution. We removed “activist” judges from their benches because they interpreted the Iowa constitution as finding that not allowing gay marriage would be unconstitutional. So what did they do? Remove the judges and try to find ones that will interpret the law the way they do. And how did that work out? Judges can only interpret the law the way the constitution is written. The fact is still clear, this was a bad law the moment President Obama embraced it just like how pulling troops out of Iraq was cutting and running even though Bush started pulling out troops before Obama’s first day. Even getting Osama bin Laden was a great idea until Obama sealed the deal. But then even wrapping love around that idea became complicated until Republicans found a 7-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon way of saying Bush was responsible for it. Oh, and by the way, you could also say speed limits are unconstitutional and our God given right to walk around the streets carrying an AK-47. My swimming pool requires my children pass a swimming test to swim in the deep end? That inhibits my children’s constitutional rights to swim in a public pool that my tax dollars are providing. That’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

  8. Henry Whistler Says:

    Well, apparently Republicans favor the freedom to run around without health insurance until you have an emergency, then go to the hospital and stick the taxpayer and responsible people who have insurance with the bill.

    Or maybe that’s giving too much deference to Reagan-era Republicans. Today’s Republicans, like George, likely favor locking hospital doors and requiring proof of payment to get in.

    What say you, George?

    Or were you just here to mouth the propaganda, whine and run off?

  9. George Says:

    b.s. propaganda is writing, “…apparently Republicans favor the freedom to run around without health insurance until you have an emergency, then go to the hospital and stick the taxpayer and responsible people who have insurance with the bill.

    Or maybe that’s giving too much deference to Reagan-era Republicans. Today’s Republicans, like George, likely favor locking hospital doors and requiring proof of payment to get in.”

    You ignore the valid argument of individual responsibility vs. the proper role of government.

  10. George Says:

    You guys aren’t really interested in hearing constitutional argument, your only real interest is throwing your monkey dung.

    The arguments that count have been made and heard, we await the ruling.

    Insider polling predicts the USSC will strike down the individual mandate in Obamacare.

    As to your other nonsense, a state can lawfully pass an Obamacare rule, the federal government it looks like, cannot. Romney has been consistent with that. He has made the legal distinction between state and federal individual mandates from day one. A state can mandate insurance, the federal government, cannot. That’s where the line has been drawn, like it or not.

    You guys forget to acknowledge that while the Heritage Foundation did do a 1989 policy paper on a limited individual mandate (catastrophic coverage) in response to the growing concept of “Universal Health Care,” which morphed into “Hillarycare,” they later withdrew ANY support for ANY kind of an individual mandate for health care. Fact is, the Heritage Foundation has never supported an unqualified mandate like what’s in Obamacare.

    Apparently, the legs for Obamacare actually started with Stanford Economist Alain Enthoven, not the Heritage Foundation. Funny how liberals like to leave information like that out of their arguments huh?

  11. George Says:

    reference: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/insider-poll-legal-experts-now-expect-supreme-court-123441478.html

    reference: http://www.channelingreality.com/Competitiveness/Ira_Magaziner/History_and_Principles_Enthoven_157_VC2.pdf

  12. George Says:

    For some reason your blog isn’t allowing for reference links to be posted.

  13. AJKamper Says:


    So you think the state can mandate that everyone eat broccoli?

  14. Henry Whistler Says:

    It’s okay when states do it, not when the federal government does it = It’s okay when Mitt Romney did it, but bad when Barack Obama did it.

    You can’t blather about individual liberty (and that’s what you did, you didn’t actually make an argument about individual liberty) and then say, well, it’s okay if your state supposedly violates that liberty (even though you haven’t explained how it’s a violation of personal liberty).

    And you’ll save yourself many headaches by never, ever pretending Mitt Romney is consistent about anything. Here’s a source you, bottom-feeder rightwing troll, can trust, Erick Erickson:


    That, of course, was before Mitt Romney realized the kool konservative kids would turn on the mandate once Obama embraced it.

    And Alain Enthoven? Sorry for leaving him out, but I’ve never heard of him. Nor did Mitt Romney when he said he got the idea of the mandate from Newt Gingrich, who got it from Heritage.

    He’s mentioned in this article, having proposed an employer mandate in 1993. What his connection is to the individual mandate is not very clear.

    As far as I have been able to find, Stuart’s 1989 brief is the first published proposal of an individual mandate in the context of private-sector-managed health systems. In 1991, Mark Pauly and others developed a proposal for George H.W. Bush that also included an individual mandate. While others credit Stanford economist Alain Enthoven with the idea, Enthoven’s earliest published reference to an individual mandate was an indirect one in the 1992 Jackson Hole paper.

    But gosh, sorry for leaving Alain Enthoven out of it.

    But like you said, dandy idea if Mitt Romney- er, I mean the states do it, horrible idea if Barack Ob- I mean, the federal government does it.

  15. Jldmeyer Says:

    Although it is bad when states legalize gay marriage but ok for a national constitutional amendment against it. It is never a state vs. government thing. It is a “I am for the constitution as long as it fits my point of view” thing.

  16. George Says:

    It’s not an “I am for the Constitution as long as it fits my point of view” thing. That’s lazy thinking. Each state Constitution is different. Each is unique to the U.S. Consitution as well as to other states respectively. What may be accepted in one state, is not accepted in another. There’s nothing complicated about that, there’s nothing “as long as it fits my point of view” about that – it’s just the way it is.

    The argument outlining the legal distinction between state and federal individual mandates is a valid one. The Supreme Court issues the final ruling next week and that will be the end of the debate. Well, except for all the liberal whining.

  17. Henry Whistler Says:

    The whole point is that not a jot or tittle of this was ever spoken or written before Barack Obama embraced the individual mandate, thus who can believe that you really think it’s unconstitutional?

    President Romney in 2010 would have passed nearly the same bill and Republicans would be crowing that they’d truly offered us a private market solution for universal health care. And Democrats would have voted for it because they’re not as cynical, corrupt, and utterly nakedly partisan as people like you. Because they still do believe in compromise, and in being open to different methods of accomplishing the same goals.

    Besides, the federal distinction is so flimsy. The Constitution gives the federal government power to tax, provide for the general welfare of the country, and regulate commerce. Before Republicans revolted against President Obama for purely political reasons (cue Groucho Marx: Whatever he’s for, we’re against it!), the constitutionality of the mandate wasn’t in question.

    To that, you’ve said nothing. Except that you’re totally cool with the SC being just as nakedly partisan.

  18. AJKamper Says:


    It’s very simple. Don’t mouth platitudes about federalism. (Besides,I’m probably more of a federalist than you are, as HW will testify.) Just say whether you think the states have the constitutional authority to mandate your eating three servings of broccoli a week.

  19. George Says:

    In other words, you’ve got nothing to argue.

    All you do is make excuses, you don’t reason.

  20. AJKamper Says:

    No, no a discussion involves actually addressing my point about Republican messaging. I’m happy to talk about it and even reason, but you have to respond substantively here.

  21. Henry Whistler Says:


    Among actual Constitutional experts (not George), the mandate is clearly Constitutional, but given the nature of the current court, they do not expect it to survive.

    Stacking a court with hacks has its benefits.

  22. AJKamper Says:


    Whoa, whoa. Among SOME actual Constitutional experts. The majority, and the mainstream. But let’s not get all crazy here.

    In my view, it depends on whether you see each individual question as a new expansion of powers, or if you see past jurisprudence as a greater containing a lesser. That framing difference is causing the two sides to talk right past each other.

  23. Henry Whistler Says:

    Okay, the overwhelming majority of the country’s best Constitutional experts, sheesh.

    What kind of confused me about the case was that if the Obama administration had insisted the mandate penalty was strictly a tax, the case would have been pushed down the schedule for years and likely would have been a cakewalk. They wanted an answer sooner rather than later, and in doing so undermined one of their most effective arguments. Then again, it’s hard to imagine anybody doing a worse job than Verrilli.

    We shall see the results 10pm EST Thursday.