The Perils of Rejecting ObamaCare
An incredibly chilling interview with Neal Katyal, US Solicitor General who argued in defense of ObamaCare's individual mandate in the lower courts. Read it and weep: The original text of the interview can be found here.
Follow the jump for my take on it.
Q:) Experts say that this Supreme Court challenge is historic. Why so?
A:) The case that's coming before the Supreme Court which challenges Congress's Affordable Care Act is undoubtedly a significant case. It's rare for a president's signature initiative to come before the Supreme Court and be challenged as unconstitutional.
There's a subtle message here: ObamaCare is the 'signature' legislation of America's First Black President. If his law is ruled unconstitutional, well, what does that say about race in America? It shouldn't have any bearing at all, the source of the legislation, but message received.
Q:) The requirement for each individual to have health insurance coverage is central to the president's reform. Can the law survive without that measure?
A:) It's a hard thing to imagine that the law, that all of the rest of the law would survive if the individual mandate is struck down, because Congress when they passed the Affordable Care Act, said: 'We want to get rid of discrimination against those who have pre-existing conditions to make sure that insurers are going to insure everyone at a fair cost'. And if you get rid of the provision that says everyone has to carry insurance, then you're really effectively undoing the logic of the ban on discrimination of those with pre-existing conditions.
I have never understood the logic behind forcing insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions. It sounds so great, to tell everyone that they're 'covered' but it requires that we ignore the facts; the reality that insurance is essentially a reversed lottery. People who engage in healthy lifestyles, or who are just healthier by dint of genetics, luck, etc. -- they pay less for insurance. And some people who have serious pre-existing health problems, no health insurance company wants to take that 'bet'.
So along comes the government, to force insurance companies to make decisions that are against their own economic self-interest. This is a recipe for disaster. There's no logic to 'undo' in the 'pre-existing condition' clause of ObamaCare because there never was any logic to start. Lowering the overall cost of providing healthcare (tort reform, making insurance companies compete across state lines, etc.) would have brought some of those uninsurable people into a zone that was potentially profitable, but those ideas never even got onto the table.
Q:) In what way could the individual mandate by judged "unconstitutional"?
A:) The challengers to the reform say that never before has the government forced people to buy a product. We're not forcing you to buy a product. Health care is something all Americans consume, and you don't know when you're going to consume it. You could get struck by a bus, you could have a heart attack and the like. And if you don't have health insurance, then you show up at the emergency room. The doctors are under orders to treat you -- as any Western, any civilized society would do. And who pays for that? Well, ordinary Americans pay for that. They're the ones who have to pick up the tab for those who don't have insurance. We are not regulating what people buy, we're regulating how people finance it.
Another bald-faced distortion. I can sit on a street corner and refuse medical care until I expire, and no one can stop me. Just being alive does not force anyone to 'consume' healthcare. Should Americans socialize burial services, for those who choose to die? Death (like Life) is certain, so why not socialize that as well? We all have to buy funereal services or pay a fine because we all plan on dying at some point, right? Ignore the fact that I plan on my remains being enshrined in a gold-leaf mausoleum complete with an interactive, animatronic walk-through tour, and an incredibly phallic obelisk placed over my hallowed remains. Or maybe I would prefer to be interred in a coffee can and spread out over a compost heap? Doesn't matter -- I will consume funereal costs, and so it must be legal for the government to interfere.
And now for the best quote!
Q:) What is at stake in this hearing?
A:) If the Supreme Court struck this down, I think that it wouldn't just be about health care. It would be the Supreme Court saying: 'Look, we've got the power to really take decisions, move them off of the table of the American people, even in a democracy. And so it could imperil a number of reforms in the New Deal that are designed to help people against big corporations and against, indeed, big governments. The challengers are saying that this law is unconstitutional, which means even if 95 percent of Americans want this law, they can't have it. And that's a really profound thing for an unelected court to say.
This was the quote that really got me reeling. If this guy became US Solicitor General, then he's not a fool. So this statement must mean he's an active participant in the dismantling of America. It is the stated role of the Supreme Court to impose a test on legislation. Yes, if 95 percent of Americans voted to reinstate slavery in America, it would be within the bounds of the Supreme Court to declare such a law unconstitutional. This is not an absolute democracy, as a US Solicitor probably knows, but may willfully choose to ignore.
And yet, there's a kernel of truth in his statement, if only in the converse. If the government can force citizens to purchase a service or product then what remains that the government cannot do? The very nature of the Constitution is as a limiting agent upon the State. This is a turning point -- either we live in a country in which the powers of the state are delineated, or we do not. I would ask Katyal what is the government unable to do on a constitutional basis. I imagine he would respond with a long, unfruitful pause.
Q:) Why is there such visceral opposition to this law among Americans?
A:) Whenever you have landmark legislation, people are afraid of change. That's not surprising. And this is something that is going to dramatically change insurance markets, health care markets, and you know, there's a lot of people who can be worried about that and who, if they don't like the law, should vote against those who voted for it. Vote against President Obama, or vote against the members of Congress. What I think is not appropriate is to take that policy debate and put it in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. If they don't like the law, there's an easy vote and that's in November.
Another deeply stupid remark from Katyal. It is entirely appropriate for citizens to bring a law before the Supreme Court that they feel is unconstitutional. That's the express function of the Court! And ObamaCare is no longer in the stage of 'policy debate' -- it is policy, it is law. The Democrats won that round. Now the law has to stand up to constitutional scrutiny. We're not making law, we're examining existing law.
I pray that the Supreme Court rules appropriately. It is not the role of the government to supply citizens with healthcare, and it cannot force citizens to purchase any service or product at its whim.