Obamacare faced voters for the first time on Tuesday — and was diagnosed as seriously ill.
By 71 percent to 29 percent, Missouri voters approved a referendum to invalidate any Obamacare mandate to purchase health insurance and any penalty for not doing so. Proposition C reflects growing momentum to repeal Obamacare, an increasingly unpopular federal sinkhole that the American people do not want and numerous state and federal officials are working sedulously to reverse.
Obamacare’s latest defeat did not occur in Mississippi, Utah, or some other right-wing bastion. Instead, it happened in Missouri, a swing state that then-senator Barack Obama of neighboring Illinois lost by just 3,903 votes in 2008.
Rather than accept responsibility for Tuesday’s setback, Democrats — typically — are faulting Republicans. “The numbers are totally distorted because of the lopsided turnout,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) told the Associated Press, blaming heavy GOP voter participation. Of course, this coin’s flip side features Democrats so ho-hum about Obamacare that they failed to defend it.
Indeed, Obamacare’s performance lagged that of Obama himself in Missouri’s major Democratic cities. While Obama won 83.7 percent of St. Louis’s ballots in November 2008, Obamacare secured just 58.9 percent of that metropolis’s votes on Tuesday. In Kansas City, the analogous figures were 78.4 percent and 56.5 percent. Thus, even in key urban centers, Democrats are cooling on Obamacare.
The day before the Missouri vote, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ruled that Virginia may proceed with its lawsuit to overturn Obamacare’s individual mandate to acquire medical coverage. The Justice Department now must defend Obamacare in court.
“Unquestionably, this regulation radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America,” Hudson wrote in his 32-page opinion. “While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate — and tax — a citizen’s decision not to participate in interstate commerce,” Judge Hudson added. “No reported case from any federal appellate court has extended the Commerce Clause or Tax Clause to include the regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, notwithstanding its effect on interstate commerce.”
As Virginia attorney general Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, who prevailed in this case, observed, “The government cannot draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the Commerce Clause.”
Obamacare’s mandate redefines the individual’s relationship to Washington, D.C. If it can compel Americans to buy health insurance, why can’t it force each American to join a gym or eat a bran muffin every morning?
A constituent of Rep. Pete Stark (D., Calif.) asked him at a June town-hall meeting, “If this legislation is constitutional, what limitations are there on the federal government’s ability to tell us how to run our private lives?”
Stark’s answer encapsulated Obamacare’s underlying statist philosophy: “The federal government can, yes, do most anything in this country.”
Twenty different state attorneys general are in court battling Obamacare’s defining ideology, as embodied in the individual mandate.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, 170 of the 178 House Republicans have signed Rep. Steve King’s (R., Iowa) discharge petition to bring repeal language to the House floor.
“Our goal is to have 218 signatures on the discharge petition to force Speaker Pelosi to unclench her fist and allow a vote to repeal Obamacare,” says Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America, a pro-repeal conservative advocacy group. “The fact that not one of the 34 Democrats who voted against Obamacare has signed this petition should lead voters to ask these congressmen if they now endorse Obamacare’s implementation.”
Americans increasingly would applaud such a House vote. A July 30–31 Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters shows that 59 percent want Obamacare overturned, while 38 percent disagree. (Error margin: ± 3 percent.) Despite relentless Democratic preening over Obamacare, pro-repeal sentiments have risen from 55 percent (42 percent opposed) on March 23–24, when Obama signed the bill. The more Americans learn about Obamacare, the more they reject it. Concerning this law, familiarity breeds contempt.
If the American people hand Republicans the keys to Congress on November 2, they can smother this $2.5 trillion extravagance in its infancy. While a GOP repeal vote surely would earn a presidential veto, a Republican Congress could defund this law’s implementation.
Instead, Republicans should pass what Congress should have adopted in the first place: a simple, far cheaper program centered on “health stamps.” These vouchers would help truly uninsurable poor people purchase insurance, much as food stamps help low-income Americans buy almost any groceries they please, without capsizing the entire supermarket system.
Medical-malpractice reform, universal tax-free health savings accounts, and individual purchases of portable medical plans (all available across state lines) should compose the balance of the GOP’s antidote to Obamacare’s poison.
Obamacare’s ultimate demise likely will require a Republican chief executive to sign its death certificate. Until that joyous occasion, Americans should dream of the day when Barack Obama returns to Chicago to break ground on his presidential library.
– Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.