Politics & Policy

Obamacare’s Bipartisan Critics

Representatives Barney Frank and Loretta Sanchez in 2010
The president’s health-care legislation is now being opposed from both sides of the aisle.

The ongoing controversy over President Obama’s universal female-contraception entitlement decree reportedly found Vice President Joseph Biden, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former chief of staff Richard Daley, and five Democratic senators opposing Obama’s fusillade against religious liberty and economic freedom. (It is tyrannical to force faith-based organizations to commit what they consider sins and dictate to insurance companies that they deliver a service for free — namely, birth-control coverage — for which they normally charge money.) This is the latest example of Democrats, in whole, or in part, giving the cold shoulder to Obamacare.

‐ Congressman Barney Frank, the crusading Massachusetts liberal, recently co-sponsored H.R. 452, joining California’s Joe Baca and Loretta Sanchez, New York’s Timothy Bishop, Pennsylvania’s Chaka Fattah, and ten other Democrats. This measure, introduced by Representative Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), would terminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Dubbed “the real death panel” by its critics, IPAB would begin work in 2014. Its 15 appointed members would control Medicare costs by deciding which treatments are cost-effective and which aren’t, essentially rationing care. Its recommendations would become federal law unless Congress found other ways to match or exceed its spending cuts. Alternatively, 60 senators overrule IPAB’s advice — no small task.

#ad#Representative Frank’s spokesman, Diego Sanchez, says that his boss’s opposition to IPAB has been “consistent and firm.” As far back as January 15, 2010, Frank — along with California’s Pete Stark, Texas’s Sheila Jackson-Lee, Georgia’s John Lewis, and dozens of other stalwart Democrats — signed a letter to then-speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) spurning “legislation that would place authority for Medicare payment policy in an unelected, executive branch commission or board.”

‐ Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Senator Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) asked the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office to find replacements for Obamacare’s individual mandate, the new law’s most constitutionally dodgy provision. “I never thought the mandate was a particularly good way to do it,” he told Politico. Senator Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) also frets about the mandate. “There’s [sic] other ways we can get people into the pool — I hope — other than a mandate, and we need to look at that,” she told MSNBC.

Obamacare’s chief mandate has enraged Democrats across America.

“Examples around the country show that people on both the left and the right oppose the unconstitutional individual mandate,” says Christie Herrera, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Health and Human Services Task Force. “Support for an individual’s right to decide whether or not to purchase health insurance free from government force is a question of the proper role of government, not what side of the aisle you sit on.”

Last spring, for instance, Missouri attorney general Chris Koster (D., Missouri) filed an amicus curiae brief backing anti-Obamacare litigation filed by Florida and 25 other states.

“If Congress can force activity under the Commerce Clause, then it could force individuals to receive vaccinations or annual check-ups, undergo mammogram or prostate exams, or maintain a specific body mass,” argues Koster’s brief in the case, which the Supreme Court will hear in March.

Koster’s filing poses this magnificent rhetorical question:

“When Henry Thoreau set about to idly chronicle the summer of 1845 alongside Walden Pond, could Congress assert that Thoreau’s season of reflection was, in fact, an active decision not to fish Walden’s waters, regulate his negative decision under the Commerce Clause, and thereafter penalize his failure to fish under the theory that everyone has to eat?”

‐ Missourians voted 71 to 29 percent on August 3, 2010, to prohibit any law that compels “any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.” This anti-mandate initiative won nearly 100,000 votes from citizens who did not cast Republican ballots in that day’s primary election. “When one in six Democratic primary voters decides they want the state of Missouri to defend them from the signature issue of the Democratic Party, you’ve got a recipe for electoral disaster,” RedState concluded.

St. Louis County, a Democratic stronghold, voted 59 to 40 percent for Obama over Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) in November 2008. However, Obamacare proved far less popular than its namesake. Missouri’s largest city voted 62 to 38 percent for Proposition C.

#page#‐ Last November 8, Ohio voters approved Issue 3, another referendum against the Obamacare mandate. In an election driven by union opposition to Issue 2, which would reject GOP governor John Kasich’s restrictions on Big Labor’s perks, Issue 3 actually received more votes than did Issue 2. While Issue 2 passed 61 to 39 percent, Issue 3 did even better, passing 66 to 34 percent. All 88 of Ohio’s counties supported Issue 3.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, home to Cleveland, is a Democratic bastion. Among its voters last November, only 12 percent were registered Republicans, while 40.5 percent were Democrats. Nonetheless, Cuyahoga County voted for the anti-Obamacare measure, 58 to 42 percent.

#ad#‐ Virginia enacted a law in 2010 that protects every resident from “any penalty, assessment, fee, or fine, as a result of his failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage.” In Virginia’s House of Delegates, 55 percent of Democrats backed this anti-mandate measure, as did eight of eleven (73 percent) of the chamber’s Black Caucus.

‐ Kentucky state representative Jim Gooch (D., Providence) introduced a resolution that “rejects the Affordable Care Act and calls for the repeal of the Act by the Congress of the United States.” Gooch’s legislation reads like a tea-party manifesto: “The result of this law will be to create a government takeover of the health care industry that will increase health care costs, raise taxes, hurt senior citizens, destroy jobs, reduce the quality of care that Americans will receive, restrict consumer choice, limit individuals’ access to private health insurance, and reduce the ability of American companies to compete.”

These and other Democrats underscore something about Obamacare that has been true since it was jack-hammered down the throats of the American people: The only thing bipartisan about Obamacare is its growing chorus of critics.  

— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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