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A Post-Constitutional National Demography

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Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the 2,700 page monstrosity of a law commonly called “ObamaCare,” reminding us all that the third branch of government is still government.

To those of us unimpaired by a law degree, it did not seem like a difficult question: where, precisely, does the Constitution empower the federal government to mandate purchases and dictate coverage? Answer: nowhere. It is the sort of 9-0 no-brainer where a 7th grader could write the opinion: “we all looked – it isn’t there.”

But the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that they don’t need no stinkin’ Constitution, and so the Patient Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains the law of the land. Which is not to say that nothing changed yesterday; the law is still the same law but the land is no longer the same land.

We are now officially some mutated form of post-constitutional national democracy, or perhaps we should call it a demography – a nation herded into little piles to be pandered to every four years. And with yesterday’s court ruling adding to his recent string of executive orders, President Obama has now amassed an insurmountable lead among gay under-26 promiscuous unemployed illegal aliens on food stamps without insurance and living with their parents.

Forget the semantics of tax/mandate and remember that the President’s socialized medicine scheme was rammed down our throats for 18 months on the vague promise that central control and mandates would “bend the cost curve”. We had to be just like Europe, for reasons that can’t be readily recalled now that Greece alternates between burning and begging and France is back in the hands of the communists.

That infamous cost curve has indeed been bent, but in the wrong direction. Premium cost increases of 15-25% have been commonplace since Congress passed the law with “affordability” cynically included in its name, and millions have lost coverage as employers can no longer afford to provide mandated benefits. Unlike the laws of Congress, the law of unintended consequences doesn’t wait to be phased in until after the next election.

Most Americans have no clue how close we all are to losing our system of employer-based health insurance. A McKinley Quarterly study published last year found that 30% of employers planned to drop health insurance once ACA was fully implemented; that number rose to 60% among firms who were “very familiar” with the law’s provisions. We will shortly discover that that number is more like 90.

The nation’s 100 largest employers will pay $111 billion in fines if they drop health insurance when the ACA’s provisions are fully implemented in 2014; it will cost them over $450 billion to provide ACA-compliant coverage. You don’t get to be a top 100 employer by not knowing how to make that call. The Supreme Court did not overturn arithmetic, so enjoy your employer plan this year and next.

Ironically, there is a reform where the cost curve has been bent downward – in Wisconsin, home of Obama’s nemesis, Governor Scott Walker. Walker’s budget reforms contained provisions which enabled school districts to break the virtual monopoly on health insurance sold by the teachers’ union.

Choice and competition (where have you heard that before) reduced the cost of health care for those districts that shopped around by as much as 20 percent. Not only were other plans (for-profit plans, I might add) less expensive, but the introduction of competition suddenly caused the non-profit WEA Trust to lower its own prices.

So let’s recap. Obama imposes central control and mandates and costs go up 20 percent. Walker abolishes central control and mandates and costs go down 20 percent.

One more time for those with an Ivy League education or who listen to NPR on a regular basis:  central control and mandates bad, choice and competition good.

While Walker has not gone nearly far enough to please this libertarian free trader, he has demonstrated the ease and speed at which markets solve problems that government finds intractable.  The lesson to be learned in Wisconsin is one of trajectory, not distance – Walker went local, while Obama/Pelosi/Reed/Roberts went national. The Roberts Court decision will simply add health care to the list of things that government has ruined in the past century of progressive dogoodery.

The problem with liberalism has always been that its devotees argue intent while ignoring effect.  The Great Society is intent; Detroit is effect. If it were possible to change human nature and end all suffering by simply writing a law, then by all means let’s write two so we can become angels. But we are not angels, and no one knows how messed up national health care will become; it is safe to say that it will suck worse than any of us can possibly imagine.

The Court’s unwillingness to overturn ACA puts the onus back on Congress to save us from the mess they made. The American people must now do the work that the Court would not – uphold and defend the Constitution. We do that by putting liberty as our first principle and electing representatives who share our values.

That work was started in 2010 and must be continued in 2012, when we again have the opportunity to toss out the scoundrels and elect liberty candidates to offices up and down the ballot. We must take our country back, because it is quite clear the statists – in both parties and in all three branches of government – are not going to give it back to us.

One last thing…the GOP battle cry “Repeal and Replace” assumes Republicans are smarter than Democrats when it comes to crafting another more-government solution for a too-much-government problem. Unfortunately for them, most of us have enough Republican friends to know better.

Here is a better idea:  Repeal and…go lay by your dish. Deregulate both health care and health care insurance and let markets do what government can not – lower cost and improve quality.

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