The Daily Scoop: Unpopular Mandate

An interesting article tracing the evolution of the Republican Party’s love-hate relationship with the individual mandate from their 20 years supporting it to their paradigm shift as it became part of the Democrats’ health care reform.

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.”

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.

[As the legislation evolved in]to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as  Obamacare—[it] also included an individual mandate. But, as that bill came  closer to passing, Republicans began coalescing around the mandate, which  polling showed to be one of the legislation’s least popular elements. In  December, 2009, in a vote on the bill, every Senate Republican voted to call the  individual mandate “unconstitutional.”

This shift—Democrats lining up behind the Republican-crafted mandate, and  Republicans declaring it not just inappropriate policy but contrary to the  wishes of the Founders—shocked Wyden. “I would characterize the Washington,  D.C., relationship with the individual mandate as truly schizophrenic,” he said.
Read more…



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