In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"), NPR's "Talk of the Nation" held a seminar of sorts at the Aspen Institute's legendarily pretentious Ideas Festival. Someone in the audience asked NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner this question: "Today's decision is a positive decision for the estimated 50 million uninsured Americans. Who are the losers today?"
Rovner seemed to struggle to find losers. She came up with insurance companies that want the so-called individual mandate -- now a punitive tax, according to the Supreme Court -- to be much more punitive. After thinking through her answer, she later added that another group of losers might be the citizens of states whose governors opt to not participate in the law's expansion of Medicaid.
So, Obamacare creates no losers except where it fails to tax people sufficiently and where GOP governors fail to accept the wisdom of the law. In short, the only thing wrong with Obamacare is that it isn't even more punitive, more mandatory and more intrusive.This is the problem with Leftist ideology: the notion that getting more "free" stuff is the essence of living free. You are free if you can have sex without consequences, eat without working, get a pension from the government, and have your health care paid for by the State.
But I am here to tell you that these things do not give you freedom. For when someone else provides for you, whether it is the government, or it is a private person, the one who pays expects something in return. In the case of health care, we are just now seeing the beginnings of those strings. Since the government will soon be paying, they feel, and rightly so, that they can dictate what behaviors you can, and can not do. Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to eliminate soft drink purchase over 16 ounces may seem ridiculous, but that is just to get you used to the idea of having your soda purchases regulated. His ban on salt is another such trial balloon. But soon enough, an army of petty tyrants will be dictating the minutest details of your life in the name of lowering the costs of health care. You think you will be free then? You may like where this is going now, but soon enough, your ox will be gored too.
Whether it's called a tax or a mandate, the federal government has never opted to compel citizens to purchase something as a condition of breathing while American. Obamacare represents a major advance for the old FDR vision of turning sovereign citizens into clients of the state. It empowers an army of Bloombergs to do what they think is for your own good and to redefine your rights as mere perks of the system.Update: Ben Shapiro has a good article entitled "The Worst Ruling Since Dred Scott." He says in that article:
Essentially, the Obamacare decision said that the federal government can force you to do anything. They don't have to tax behavior. They can tax nonbehavior. They can tell you to do virtually anything they want; they can tax you unless you buy the right foods, listen to the right music and/or engage in the right type of work. If you refuse to pay the tax, they can jail you. The Obamacare decision destroys the basic concept of American liberty: freedom to live as you choose without interference by the federal government, so long as you don't affect the lives of others. Now the government can penalize you in the privacy of your own home for failing to do as they say."Could it be any clearer?