The Corner

Ask Not

I’ve been on the road all day, driving to Ohio for an event tonight for the Buckeye Institute. While driving I got to listen to a lot of coverage — TV and radio — of the results (thank you XM). I’ve already written my column on the issue on the drive to Columbus — Look Ma! No hands! (actually, I wrote it at a lovely rest stop in Morristown, Ohio).

Anyway, I listened to Obama’s reaction to the decision and, well, it vexed me.

He begins:

Good afternoon. Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America – in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin. 

No it didn’t. It didn’t reaffirm any such principle. As terrible as I think the decision was, the court in no way ruled anything like what Obama says here. Here he is again:

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.

Again: This is untrue. The court did not rule that anyone “should” do anything at all. It’s almost as if a man with little credibility outside his base is trying to sponge off the court’s credibility to support his views, even though the court offered no such support.

But it’s that word “should” that really bothers me.  When he says “should” he means “must.” He might — might — be right that everyone who can afford health insurance should get health insurance. But that’s simply good advice. What Obama actually means is that everyone must be forced to do so. It sounds so much gentler to use “should” than to use the more accurate language of coercion. It’s why Obama is so fond of saying that he’s just “asking” the “rich” to pay their fair share. “Ask” has nothing to do with it.

It’s telling that so many unabashed supporters of government coercion are so reluctant to admit what they believe plainly.


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