Have We Looked Down This Path?

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March 28, 2012 9:48 a.m.

It’s worth noting that the upshot of the anti-mandate arguments being made before the Court this week is that a broadly market based approach like the Romney-Obama model is unconstitutional; but single payer would be constitutional.Among many other issues, that locks the country into an interesting constitutional straightjacket since the Romney-Obama model was originally devised by conservatives trying to head off things that might be more reasonably be called a ‘government takeover’ of at least the financing of health care, whether that’s a full single payer approach or more of a hybrid like President Clinton sorta proposed in 1994.

The argument is that the government has broad powers to tax to address national problems but not the power to mandate individual participation in regulated private sector approaches. (I don’t doubt that there will now be arguments on the right that Social Security and Medicare are in fact unconstitutional. But for the moment the proponents have avoided that interpretation for obvious political if not necessarily constitutional reasons.) David Frum points out that killing the mandate also disallows the Chilean model of privatized, individual retirement accounts Social Security, which has been catnip for free market conservatives for a generation.

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