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Tilting at Windmills

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June 16, 2010

GOP STILL TARGETING HEALTH CARE MANDATE.... House Republicans are still playing games with motions to recommit -- a scheme intended to force floor delays by pushing votes intended to put Democrats in awkward positions. Yesterday afternoon offered the latest example.

House Republicans will look to force a vote this afternoon to repeal the individual mandate provisions within Democrats' healthcare bill.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, will offer a motion to recommit on a small business tax cut bill this afternoon that would look to strike the provision from Democrats' healthcare reform law.

The vote comes as part of the GOP's "America Speaking Out" initiative, one of House Republicans' programs seeking online engagement with constituents.

If the ploy was intended to put House Dems on the defensive, it failed badly. The final vote was 187 to 230 to reject the GOP motion, with 21 Blue Dogs (who opposed health care reform anyway) voting with Republicans, and Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) voting with Dems.

Nevertheless, the fact that House Republicans pushed this at all is a reminder that the caucus continues to see the individual health care mandate as the most problematic and controversial provision in the Affordable Care Act. For right-wing activists, it represents an unprecedented assault on liberty. For right-wing grandstanders, it represents the basis for litigation. The whole idea is supposed to be so red-hot that it forces Dems to run in the other direction.

But as long as the GOP keeps pushing this, I'm inclined to remind them that the individual health care mandate is a Republican idea. It was always a Republican idea, ever since it started gaining traction in GOP circles in the 1970s.

Indeed, this isn't an idea Republicans were willing to tolerate in years past as part of negotiations with Democrats, but rather, this was an idea Republicans came up with.

The roster is pretty long of prominent Republicans who've either endorsed the individual mandate, voted for a plan with an individual mandate, co-sponsored legislation with an individual mandate, or all of the above. It includes George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, John McCain, Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, and Judd Gregg, among others.

All of them have supported an individual mandate -- a provision that Republicans now believe to be an unconstitutional freedom-killer that must be eliminated for the sake of American liberty.

As the GOP continues to hyperventilate over the mandate, keep this relevant detail in mind.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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"It includes George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, John McCain, Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, and Judd Gregg, among others."

Ah, but they're not REAL Republicans.

!!!Palin/Wurzlebacher 2010!!!

Posted by: Steve Paradis on June 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

All of them have supported an individual mandate -- a provision that Republicans now believe to be an unconstitutional freedom-killer that must be eliminated for the sake of American liberty.

Just because they're being inconsistent now doesn't mean Republicans are wrong. The individual mandate may well be an unconstitutional freedom-killer... that they invented.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Without single payer and public option, fuck the "individual mandate".

I'm with the tea baggers. I'll go to jail before i'm forced to buy health insurance.

Yeah, like most I have it through my work, but if I lost that I'd have to choose between my house/home and insurance.

Obama can go fuck himself.

Posted by: agave on June 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

At lunch yesterday, one of the radical Republicans I work with blurted out that the individual mandate in the ACA is proof that Obama is a card carrying communist.

You don't have to have the memory of a goldfish to be a Republican, but it helps.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 16, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Grumpy. No you wouldn't. Go learn more about the bill. I'd rather a single payer / public option, too, and that's the next fight. In the mean time, the Affordable Care Act is a giant step forward.

Posted by: noogs on June 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that without the individual mandate, the whole reform package falls apart.

1) You have to allow restrictions on coverage for pre-existing conditions. Otherwise you create a "moral hazard" for healthy people if they can go without coverage then sign-up as soon as they get sick.

2) Without more younger and healthier clients in the system, prices remain unaffordable for the 40 and 50-somethings or those whose medical history makes them risky, even if they are completely healthy right now.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 16, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

I got behind the Pass the Damn Bill. But I'm just not seeing how it's going to protect me from predatory insurance companies.

I don't think I'm alone in this. Maybe a post to clarify this point could help us out.

Posted by: zak822 on June 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Let them take out the mandate. The private health insurance system will fail due to adverse selection (only sick people will sign up now, while healthy people will wait until they get sick). It will collapse, leading to either a big insurance company 'bailout' ("too sick to fail") or single-payer.

Posted by: Old Patch on June 16, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

What difference does it make if it was a Republican idea? I don't get it. So what?

Posted by: Christopher on June 16, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Some good points, but ironically this type of mandate isn't as great as it sounds anyway (hint - like you say, a Republican idea!) And like you'd expect from a Republican idea, it is flawed. Steve - that's a good point to trumpet as hypocrisy gotcha, but they don't care anyway. I understand the need to require participation to increase the pool. But without a public option and/or Medicare buy-in, we're made prisoners of the insurance companies. With better regulation that's better than it was before, but if Repubs take more control we won't even have that.

BTW I am not so sanguine about Dem prospects this fall either, look at this poll. I doubt NPR is a Rasmussen clone:

Posted by: Neil B on June 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

The difference it makes is to illustrate the stupidity of the "centrist" Democratic habit of adopting Republican nostrums. They get hammered just as hard as though they'd actually done something progressive.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on June 16, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Agave: If you don't buy into health insurance, you are freeloading on the US health care system since you won't be left to die on the street (well, many people are and do, but that's a different story.) Sure you shouldn't have to pay hundreds/month if you can't afford it - and the ACA addresses that, but not in the simplest and best way IMHO. Instead of subsidies, the better way is to just charge people a chunk of income, like an extra Medicare flat tax on income (and with no cap!)

Posted by: Neil B' on June 16, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest irony is that the individual mandate is the only piece of the legislation that Big Insurance and Big Pharma LIKE. The worst possible outcome for the paymasters of the Republican leadership is for the coverage reform provisions to remain in law and the individual mandate to be plucked out.

I am sitting back in some amusement here, especially at the predictions that the Roberts Court will actually find this Unconstitutional when that means corporate America takes it in the shorts for billions. The insurance companies strategy revolved on keeping things like limits on recession as weak as possible while jacking up mandate requirements which is the only way they can make money out of this deal.

At some point Boehner and McConnell are going to get that call from AHIP telling them to knock this shit off, a total repeal is not in the cards, and a partial repeal could be a big effing disaster for the insurance company bottom line, a combination of guaranteed issue and no mandate and they are well and totally fucked.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on June 16, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Guess I'm a right wing activist now, since I consider the individual mandate (absent an available public option for all who are mandated) unconstitutional as hell - like most other Republican ideas.

What next - a monthly tithe to WalMart? Minimum annual purchases of gasoline from one of the majors?

All us suspicious characters who were told not to worry our pretty little heads, because they would fix it later, keep noticing that the Overton window has moved a lot farther right since the passage of SS and Medicare. That we still can't import drugs; that bankers and pharmaceutical companies are bankrupting the damned country and that our tax dollars continue to guarantee their obscene profits.

Medicare part D hasn't been fixed, it has been enshrined in the insurance company protection act. The public option remains the uncrossable line - except to the extent the Republicans and conservadems keep pushing it right.

My cry was "No public option, no mandate!"

The bill is an unconstitutional POS.

Posted by: UnEasyOne on June 16, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that defines the tea partiers ultimately isn't any kind of ideology, but simply but that they are angry, uninformed and fear change.

Posted by: mcc on June 16, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

For those worried about how ineffective the ACA is and will be and especially how horrible it is that money is STILL going to HCI companies, all I can say is: what have you got to offer in its place?
(I believe this is where the word "crickets" is to be placed)
The present legislation effectively places the responsibility for the citizens of this country to have access to health care in the hands of the Federal government. Right now an attempt is being made, basically, to "encourage" the HCI companies to be sensible and limit their increases to something sensible, say, no more than inflation plus 5%.
Should THAT not work, there is every incentive (read: deficits) for the Federal government to become even MORE directly involved and use its buying clout to cut even better deals with the HCI companies. That "better deal" is the public option. And if THAT still doesn't keep medical costs from exploding, a country-wide single payer can be implemented.
Oh, and as a general bit of information: the first SS check paid out was for less than $25. A month. And the "good ole days" of 1941 weren't THAT good...

Posted by: Doug on June 16, 2010 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

The answer to your question, Doug, is Medicare for All.

And a) 25 bucks was one helluva lot more money then, plus b) Our congress was not so blatantly a wholly-owned corporate entity at that time. "Fix it later" was actually difficult, but a possibility.

No? Enjoying those cheap Canadian drugs yet?

Posted by: UnEasyOne on June 17, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK



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