Obamacare

Why the GOP Will Wish It Could Lead with Ron Paul After This ObamaCare Ruling

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As readers of Reason have been reminded far and near, Mitt Romney, no matter how tough he's talking now, has some credibility issues when it comes to attacking ObamaCare as a potential president.

Not that everyone shouldn't know this by now, but Peter Suderman summed it up back in May 2011:

ObamaCare, which includes a health insurance mandate, is a near carbon copy of RomneyCare: a hefty Medicaid expansion coupled to equally large middle-class insurance subsidies, new regulations that all but turn health insurance into a public utility, and an individual mandate to buy a private insurance plan. Indeed, the same Obama administration that Romney accused of being fundamentally anti-American has on multiple occasions explicitly cited the plan that Romney signed into law as the direct model for their plan.

Romney's only real contrast between his plan and the president's plan boiled down to a single, simple distinction: Obama's overhaul was a federal overhaul; Romney's was state-based. Romney would have us believe that the same system of mandates and regulations that constitutes an unconscionable imposition on individual liberty at the federal level is somehow a natural and great part of the American way of life at the state level. 

Suderman again, from earlier this month:

The GOP candidate's promises to do away with the president's health law have never been terribly convincing: His plan to offer states waivers to avoid the law probably won't work. His promises to push for repeal have always come across as hollow when paired with his defense of his own law.

That's even more true now. Not only did Romney accept the mandate in Massachusetts, he forcefully defended it while his staff insisted on its inclusion. And despite widespread distrust of Romney's commitment to unwinding the federal health care overhaul, Romney decided to appoint as a senior adviser someone who profits from ObamaCare and professionally urges conservative legislators to fall in line with one its key directives despite contrary advice from every major policy shop that opposes the health law.

Does this sound like someone whose commitment to opposing ObamaCare and its mandate is in any way reliable? It's almost as if Romney doesn't really find ObamaCare or its underlying structure particularly objectionable, and is merely pretending to vehemently oppose the law because he believes that's what the voters his campaign is targeting want to hear.

Indeed, though even the Tea Party, supposedly so energized by ObamaCare hate, seems willing to sigh and take Romney.

But even if we believed Romney will for political expedience barrel through with anti-ObamaCare Tea Party talking points for political gain whether or not he is credible or really believes it, he can't really "repeal it in day one" without Congress's going along, nor would his "state waiver" plan likely do what he claims it will.

A House repeal vote is scheduled for July 9. Good luck, congressional Republicans. Timothy Carney argues, interestingly, that given the "tax" nature of the decision, reducing that "tax" to zero counts as budget reconciliation and thus can't be filibustered, thus requiring only 51 Senate votes to essentially repeal that part in the Senate. And good luck with that, Senate Republicans.

The fate of ObamaCare, as some bemoan and some cheer, a matter for the politicians now. While some darkly suspect Roberts was pressured by Obama forces to give in, others suspect he was in fact knowingly helping Romney forces to allegedly help ensure enough angry energized Republican voters to smash Obama in November. Perhaps Obama the health care martyr would be a better energizer of his base, while the GOP can count on its forces rising to beat Obama the health care dictator.

Romney certainly can presume most anti-ObamaCare potential voters (there are still lots of them) probably thinking they have nowhere else to go. But who would have been a more effective anti-ObamaCare standardbearer? Ron Paul, of course.

Paul's comments on the decision:

"I strongly disagree with today's decision by the Supreme Court, but I am not surprised.  The Court has a dismal record when it comes to protecting liberty against unconstitutional excesses by Congress.    

"Today we should remember that virtually everything government does is a 'mandate.'  The issue is not whether Congress can compel commerce by forcing you to buy insurance, or simply compel you to pay a tax if you don't.  The issue is that this compulsion implies the use of government force against those who refuse.  The fundamental hallmark of a free society should be the rejection of force.  In a free society, therefore, individuals could opt out of "Obamacare" without paying a government tribute.

"Those of us in Congress who believe in individual liberty must work tirelessly to repeal this national health care law and reduce federal involvement in healthcare generally.  Obamacare can only increase third party interference in the doctor-patient relationship, increase costs, and reduce the quality of care.  Only free market medicine can restore the critical independence of doctors, reduce costs through real competition and price sensitivity, and eliminate enormous paperwork burdens….

And Paul talking up the problems with ObamaCare earlier this week:

supporters of Obamacare are willfully ignorant of basic economics. The fundamental problem with health care costs in America is that the doctor-patient relationship has been profoundly altered by third party interference. Third parties, either government agencies themselves or nominally private insurance companies virtually forced upon us by government policies, have not only destroyed doctor-patient confidentiality. They also inescapably drive up costs because basic market disciplines — supply and demand, price sensitivity, and profit signals — are destroyed … Obamacare, via its insurance mandate, is more of the same misdiagnosis."

Ron Paul, as above, has demonstrated understanding of why health care costs are so damn high (hint: RomneyCare has not actually contained costs), and it's because of the absurd and complicated system of third party payments and supply reductions imposed by government mandate.

Paul also knew that the Court would validate the mandate, back in March, and wrote in the sort of rhetorical move that should appeal to leftists a bit worried about government forcing us to buy a product from huge powerful corporations, in his book Liberty Defined, "A better description of…the past forty to fifty years is the takeover of medical care by the corporations. We now have a form of corporatism veering toward fascism….Regardless of party, corporate special interests  are protected….Corporations, unions, and government stand between patients and their doctors regardless of motivation. The quality and cost of medical care can never be improved by forcing on the American people greater debt-financed involvement in medical care."

Paul argues against not only the expansion of government involvement in medicine inherent in ObamaCare but also the past government incursions on the market for making both insurance and health care costs rise, thus making him the only consistent voice for the principles of government involvement in health care reined in not only by a more consistent interpretation of proper congressional power, but economic sense as well.  

Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired

Thus, while Paul is himself more federalist than many libertarians like, he doesn't accept Romney's excuse that mandating insurance purchase in Massachusetts was the right thing to do whereas doing it federally is not. Such mandates would never be the right thing to do, and fall under no proper understanding of what government is even for.

Romney may be able to get away with the two party game of blaming the latest extension of crappy governing principles on the other guy, but neither he nor any other prominent Republican seem to actually understand why our health care system was such a mess that ObamaCare could even pass–or are prepared to explain the moral, legal, constitutional, and economic reasons why nearly all government interference in health care is a bad idea. Only Ron Paul could do that.

With the Court granting Congress potentially limitless power to do anything under the taxing power, this decision reminds us that we need a sea change not just in the Nine Supremes. (It is worth noting that there is a reasonable libertarian-friendly interpretation of today's decision, which some cheer and some jeer, that in rejecting the Commerce Clause arguments Roberts has indeed stabbed post-New Deal pro-state jurisprudence in the heart even if the blood didn't stain the mandate)

The change, as Ron Paul always recognized, needs to be in the political philosophy and action of the people as a whole. And Paul was the only GOP candidate who consistently and fully understands and can be relied to act on the principled reasons why ObamaCare was and is wrong.

Alas, the Tea Party sold out that One True Voice against ObamaCare and the reasons we got ObamaCare, and without some version of his ideas animating national politics, ObamaCare may eventually be killed, but the forces that have led to massive and growing health care expenses will remain. That will merely trigger the next feckless state-run solution to a problem that would be far better served by less government involvement, not more.

My book on the meaning of Ron Paul writ large, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

NEXT: Could Medicaid Ruling Lead to Challenges to Other "Voluntary" Federal Funding Regulations?

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  1. I’m dying to know what Tulpa’s opinion on this will be.

    1. Yeah, right. And then as soon as I share my insights with you all, you’ll call me names and compare me to the shit under your refrigerator.

      1. Speak for your own refrigerator. There are dust bunnies under mine, but no shit, as far as I can smell anyway.

        1. I’m using the Ginsburg style definition of shit.

          1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is under your fridge? Dude, I’m sorry!

            1. and she walked right under it.

      2. You’re a stinky poo-poo face Tulpa.

  2. Slimy Republican establishment is slimy.

    1. Didn’t anyone tell you that it’s Mitt’s turn? We must uphold the turn system! It was McCain’s turn in 2008, it’s Romney’s turn in 2012, and it will be some other two-faced TEAM Red scumbag’s turn in 2016.

      1. Maybe we should wait until the Dixiecrat influence in the GOP is fully extinct?

        1. That will happen long before the Dixiecrat influence in TEAM Blue is fully extinct.

      2. And then in 2016, it’s Jeb Bush’s turn.

  3. All of this is true.

    And then what?

  4. Ron Paul?

    Dude, the newsletters are, like, the worst thing EVER. Worse than the mandate (except when it isn’t), that’s a tax (except when it isn’t), and thats a penalty (except when it isn’t); Worse than Terror Tuesdays and Drone Process; Worse than Fast and Furious; Worse than Solyndra, Beacon Power, and Ener-One all put together; And worse than the union bailouts.

    Get with the program.

  5. They sure as hell don’t wish they could lead with RP on the issues of Social Security, Medicare, the drug war, etc.

    Romney’s apparent credibility problems are unique to him, not something that RP has the unique ability to avoid. And of course, as I’ve reminded Suderman and others, there IS a big difference between identical policies being federal vs state in nature. Hence a lot of libertarians opposing DOMA while supporting state-level gay marriage bans.

    1. A lot of libertarians support state-level gay marriage bans?

      1. Ron Paul does.

        1. So there’s one Republican primary candidate who is much more libertarian than most.

          What about “a lot of libertarians?”

    2. Thanks for sharing your insights with us all, dickhead. You’re like the muck that I pulled out of my clean out pipe. Except you smell worse.

      /kidding

      1. You have a clean-out pipe? I need to have one of those installed!

        Does it help with hangovers, though?

  6. Gods damnit, it’s MITT’S FRICKIN’ TURN!!! Why else would they pick him?

  7. I’ve thought that if the Republicans were honest about wanting less government, they’d accept libertarians and use them as “bad cops” in their budget fights with Democrats. (“They want us to cut 40% of the budget! You better take our 10% cut!”) They don’t, so (for that and other reasons) I’m left to conclude “fiscal conservatism” is so much noise.

    Also – I was driving yesterday and Hannity was on the radio. He was arguing with a progressive that Obama was bad because the Obama administration cut Medicare Advantage.

    So much for conservatism.

    1. Hannity is an incoherent, ranting douche on the radio. I hear he’s a nice guy, and I believe it. But where sometimes I hit buttons in the car and hear Rush Limbaugh giving a pretty good defense of some things that libertarians value, when I hear Hannity answering some caller, it makes me cringe. He undermines his own points, even when I would agree with him on something.

      1. Hannity may well be a nice guy, but he is a party tool to the Nth degree. As I recall, Rush was among the in media’s right who hailed the holdouts on the budget/debt ceiling thing. Hannity is typical so-con: he loves the state when it is mandating his agenda..

    2. Who the hell would stop at 40% cuts?

  8. I voted for Paul. For the first time in my life, I sent a candidate–Paul–money. More than once.

    Fuck.

  9. Still with the Ron Paul thing?
    I’m starting to not take libertarians seriously.

    1. Oh, you. Just don’t go into schadenfraude withdrawal.

      1. I am getting a little fidgety…

  10. Bottom line? I think that the better portion of the voting public on both “sides” is just plain too stupid to understand the principles that underly our objection to Obamacare, and totalitarian government in general.

    As a candidate, we’d need someone who can rally those who cluster around and below the 100 IQ mark, not just a doctor who can rally those of us who are already libertarians, or lean that way.

  11. The Republicans didn’t even need to go to Ron Paul — they had another former governor with a stellar conservative record running in the primaries, without any of Romney’s big government baggage: Gary Johnson.

    1. He also has half of Romney’s charisma.

  12. Is it too late? Maybe Romney will do the right thing and refuse the nomination and endorse Paul or Johnson.

    1. Rick Santorum was against the man date.

  13. What is the purpose of this whining. In EVERY speech Romney gives he explicitly says that he will repeal Obamacare. What else do you want? He is critiziced for Romneycare in Mass?? Almost 90% of the legislators were democrats! Massachussets is probably the most progressive state in the whole USA. What do you think Ron Paul would have done there as a governor? Would he have accomplished anything? This whole Ron paul thing is becomming a personality cult.

  14. Ron Paul is like a rich, delicious chocolate cake…with just a little dog shit mixed in.

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