When he was seeking the Presidency in 2008, Barack Obama attacked his opponent - Senator Hillary Clinton - for her advocacy of a health reform plan that included a mandate which fined people for not purchasing health insurance. Obama argued that it was wrong to penalize people for not purchasing health insurance that they could not afford.
Here's an illustrative clip from a 2008 Democratic primary debate:
People tend to forget that the individual mandate was the centerpiece of a hotly-contested policy dispute between Obama and Clinton. Hillary was in favor of the mandate, while Obama was adamantly opposed -- until, that is, he won the election and fully embraced her plan after all. But the crux of Obama's temporary, politically-motivated case against the mandate tax was that fining people who still can't afford health coverage would be fundamentally unfair. Now that the Hillary-inspired Obamacare mandate tax has been upheld as constitutional and is being implemented, the CBO has concluded that over the next decade, 14 million Americans will pay the tax associated with foregoing Obamacare coverage:
USA Today reports that an estimated 3 million Americans will find themselves in precisely that position this year - paying a fine because insurance is too expensive - due to the President's health care reform law. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that fines on individuals who do not comply with the mandate will total $52 billion over the next 10 years. The agency recently reported that in 2024, there will be 31 million Americans without insurance. About 45 percent of those - or 14 million people - will have the option to purchase insurance but choose not to do so - due to cost or other factors.
So we're spending $2 trillion on a healthcare overhaul that will still leave 31 million Americans uninsured, while uprooting millions of others from their existing arrangement. Recall that the vast majority of "new" enrollees were previously insured, and that among those uninsured consumers who browsed Obamacare options and decided not to purchase plans, the top reason cited was lack of affordability. The mandate tax will overwhelmingly impact the middle class, which are also the group who will take the biggest income hit as a result of the law. I'll leave you with two excellent pieces flaying the Left's pathetic efforts to recast the CBO analysis as "good" news. John Podhoretz reviews the three worst arguments they're employing, while Jonah Goldberg has some fun with Democrats' tortured framing:
Democrats insist this is a boon. Indeed, many are talking about it as an act of liberation (which reminds me of an eleven-year-old headline from the Onion: “IBM Emancipates 8,000 Wage Slaves”). House minority leader Nancy Pelosi says the CBO report vindicates Obamacare, because “this was one of the goals: to give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked, but to follow their passion.” Pelosi is particularly invested in this view. She’s been mocked for years now for her repeated claims that Obamacare is an entrepreneurial bill because it would let Americans quit their jobs to, among other things, “write poetry.” I know I’m not alone in thinking that it was totally worth seizing a seventh of the U.S. economy, polarizing Washington, throwing millions of Americans’ lives into turmoil, and forcing millions of others to pay more in premiums and deductibles while spending $1.2 trillion just so we could liberate the Job-Locked Poets!
One man's 'liberation' is another man's bill to foot. Productivity, work and growth are overrated.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography