With over 2000 pages of legislative text and over 20,000 pages of regulations so far, most Americans can’t possibly know all the details of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Fortunately for opponents of the law, however, the best known provision is also the most hated: the individual mandate, confirmed to be a tax by the United States Supreme Court. It should be repealed.
While awareness of many other Obamacare provisions has declined over the past three years, awareness of the mandate tax continues to climb. The most recent tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 74 percent Americans know that Obamacare will “require nearly all Americans to have health insurance by 2014 or else pay a fine.”
The hatred of the mandate tax was intense in the immediate aftermath of last year’s surprising Supreme Court ruling, which found that Congress could not constitutionally order Americans to purchase health insurance, but allowed the mandate to stand by recasting it as a tax on being uninsured.
Unfortunately, Republicans nominated a presidential candidate who could not use the mandate tax as an issue because he supported and enacted it as governor of Massachusetts. Romney’s own flip-flop also made him unable to criticize Barack Obama’s remarkable reversal after saying in the 2008 campaign: “The main difference between my plan and Senator Clinton’s plan is that she’d require the government to force you to buy health insurance and she said she’d ‘go after’ your wages if you don’t.”
When supporters of Obamacare suggest the public voted for it in the presidential election, they overlook the fact that the only presidential election in which the mandate was specifically contested was that 2008 primary in which Obama’s opposition to the tax carried the day.
The mandate tax is still a loser with the American people. The latest Kaiser poll found that just 40 percent of Americans now have a favorable view, with just 20 percent strongly favorable. Fully 60 percent are unfavorable, with a hefty 40 percent very unfavorable.
The American people are right.
The mandate tax represents everything that’s wrong with Washington. Instead of helping the uninsured afford insurance by making it less expensive, the mandate tax punishes them. They still don’t have insurance, but now are poorer because of the tax. Yet it was part of a corrupt bargain with the big insurance companies, who basically told Congress and the Obama administration that they would go along with Obamacare’s expensive new regulations as long as the government forced everyone to buy their (even more expensive) product.
The mandate tax takes effect in 2014 if Congress fails to act. House leadership should therefore demand that repeal of this hated tax be included in must-pass legislation, such as the upcoming debt ceiling deal. Such a strategy would shift the focus of Obamacare opposition from the law’s complexity, a difficult to grasp and impersonal concept, to the law’s most well-known and widely hated provision.
Obamacare proponents would be forced to either explain why their corrupt deal with the insurance companies should remain intact or acquiesce to public opinion and common sense. It’s a fight worth having.
© Copyright 2013 Phil Kerpen, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Mr. Kerpen is the president of American Commitment and the author of “Democracy Denied.” Kerpen can be reached at email@example.com.