One of the sharpest and most compelling arguments of the left is how easily an economy based on democracy can devolve into crony capitalism. Once companies becomes rich enough to lobby, court, and seduce lawmakers into bending the law in their direction, look out. It soon becomes difficult or impossible to tell when companies ends and government begins.
The media, composed mostly of soft left material, does a valuable service—and I say this without sarcasm—by exposing the sleazy private-public connections that would otherwise grow like toxic mold. Of course, this kind of reporting by the media has become an unthinking habit, so that they routinely attack any company of size (that they don’t consider sexy).
A political example: first thing the left did when Rick Perry joined the race for Republican nomination was to charge “Crony!” See Mother Jones.
Funny, then, how the left embraced a key tenet of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama health care law. Which was that every citizen shall pay, from the moment they make their entrance to the second the keel over for the last time, a private company a certain amount of money each month. If the citizen did not want to pay the company, they were to pay a “penalty” directly to the government. This was called the “individual mandate.”
The private company would be one selected by the government itself. Crony capitalism at its most pure, and Congressionally mandated at that. And notice the use of mandate, a rare instance of non-euphemistic bureaucratic language. They were that serious about it. The Democrats (not a single Republican voted for the Act) wanted that money flowing in and, by gum, they were going to get it.
Evidently, the left weighed cronyism versus the unprecedented control over our lives awarded the government by the health care act and chose control.
But one week ago, the US Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit rejected the crony capitalism mandate of so-called Obama-I-Really-Do-Care. In a majority, but alas not unanimous, opinion, the court said
[T]the individual mandate exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional. This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives. We have not found any generally applicable, judicially enforceable limiting principle that would permit us to uphold the mandate without obliterating the boundaries inherent in the system of enumerated congressional powers. “Uniqueness” is not a constitutional principle in any antecedent Supreme Court decision. The individual mandate also finds no refuge in the aggregation doctrine, for decisions to abstain from the purchase of a product or service, whatever their cumulative effect, lack a sufficient nexus to commerce. [pp. 205-206]
The court also rejected, in fatherly words, the thin Obama government’s argument that the mandate was a novel form of tax. “We add the truism that Congress knows full well how to enact a tax when it chooses to do so. And the Act contains several provisions that are unmistakably taxes.” Further,
The plain language of the individual mandate is clear that the individual mandate is not a tax, but rather, as the statute itself repeatedly states, a “penalty” imposed on an individual for failing to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage in any month beginning in 2014.
Judge Stanley Marcus, if his rambling, and at times sputtering, eighty-four-page dissenting opinion is any guide, was beside himself. He liked the individual mandate and he liked it bad.
The judge said the mandate was necessary to take money from those that have it and give it to the government so that the government could in turn use a portion1 of the money to award health insurance to those without it, particularly “those with pre-existing conditions and lengthy medical histories.”
Judge Marcus is not alone in misunderstanding what health insurance is. It is a bet with a company that you hope you do not win. You bet that you will get sick, the company bets you won’t. If you win, the company pays for you doctor’s bill. If you lose, the company keeps your money.
If a company took those with “pre-existing” conditions they would be making bets they have already lost. Where’s the fun in that?
Again, insurance is not health. People want health, not insurance. Merely possessing insurance does not guarantee health. And who says that I should pay for you to restore your health? If I do, does that mean that I can have a vote in how your live your life? (The government would say yes.)
All theses are simple arguments, easily understood. The majority of the 11th Circuit Court did understand them. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court does, too.
1The rest it would keep for itself.