I’ve long thought that Obamacare was just a prelude to what Obama and the left really want, which is single payer health insurance. Obamacare was an unwieldy compromise, complex and cobbled together and passed because it could be done, whereas single payer’s time had not come. Yet. But Obamacare had the added plus of being so potentially problematic to the private health insurance industry that it might indeed lead to that entity’s demise, to be replaced by single payer.
In addition, I’ve long admired retired blogger Steven Den Beste’s acumen, and I’m happy to see him writing again about something other than anime. But although I’m in agreement with some of what he says here about Obamacare and single payer, I’ve got some disagreements, too.
Den Beste writes that Obama actually wants the mandate to be declared unconstitutional yet severable, because then:
That makes private health insurance economically unviable, and the insurance companies will all exit the business or they will go out of business. At which point the Democrats will try to implement “single payer”, a total nationalization of the entire health care industry, financed by a huge rise in taxes.
Single Payer is what they always wanted. The bill wasn’t originally written that way, though, because they knew that even with twin Democratic majorities, there was no chance of passing it. So they included the mandate instead.
So far that’s in line with what I think, although I don’t believe that Obama and the others thought in advance that the bill would be challenged in the Supreme Court; my sense is that they thought it would lead to single payer ultimately, without that detour along the way. But once the obstacle was thrown up it wasn’t seen as insurmountable, because it could also wind up leading to the ultimate goal of single payer.
More of Den Beste:
If the mandate is struck down, then Congress will have to act. There won’t be any way to repeal the rest of the law because Obama will veto, and the Senate will sustain the veto. The only thing he will agree to is implementation of single payer.
This is where I disagree, at least sort of. It was always clear that, unless the Supreme Court struck down the entire bill (which I don’t think most people ever considered tremendously likely), Congress would be faced with the question of repeal, now or later. That doesn’t change if the mandate is found unconstitutional but severable; Congress is still faced with the task of what to do.
But why would Congress have to act in the few months left before the 2012 election? What’s the big rush? Repeal could be used as a huge issue in the election, both for members (and prospective members) of the House and Senate and for the presidential candidates.
Obama would be forced to take a stand on a bill that’s become increasingly unpopular, and his opponent (yes, even if it’s Romney) would run on the idea of repeal, and indicate that Obama, if re-elected, would be likely to veto any repeal. My prediction is that then, just as in the 2010 election, candidates who would run against Obamacare would be likely to be elected, and Republicans would do quite well in Congress. That would set the stage for a repeal under a Republican president who would not veto it—or at the very least, a defunding.