As the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care plan at the end of March, one of the president’s closest advisers has added to the weight of evidence that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is losing viability among lawmakers and the public.
Last week, while testifying before Congress, the president’s acting budget director Jeffrey Zients undercut one of the central legal defenses of the law, admitting that the penalty imposed on those who do not purchase health insurance does not constitute a tax.
This acknowledgement contradicts one of the most important arguments the administration is making before the court. The administration will argue that the mandate is constitutional because it is a tax, and the government has been granted the power to tax.
The president of course went on television during the health care debate and insisted the mechanism punishing people for violating the individual mandate was not a tax. He had to do this to try to defend his campaign promise that he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-class families, even though he’s done so numerous times already.
We’ve also come to learn just how grossly underestimated the cost of the new law really was.
The Department of Health and Human Services has already received and spent the entirety of its $1 billion budget to implement state-based health care exchanges — and now it’s asking for an additional $860 million to finish the project. No one should be shocked to learn that government needs “just another billion” before implementation has really gotten underway.
AFP has long spoken about the dangers inherent in the president’s health care exchanges, a tool the federal government is trying to use to expand bureaucratic control over health care and pass the burden of implementation to the states. During 2009 and 2010, AFP held “Hands off My Health Care” events in more than 250 cities to educate the public about these impending problems.
The current plan demands that states implement health care exchanges by January 2014, or face federal takeover of the exchange. This is a false choice; in fact, there’s really no choice at all. Either the states take on the entire implementation burden and get micromanaged by a far-off Washington bureaucracy or the federal government explicitly takes over the exchange. Either way, patients lose.
States have been promised “flexibility” as they design and implement their exchanges. But this is a flexibility and autonomy in name only. The federal government is essentially requiring states to implement Obamacare, and to do so with HHS looking over their shoulder at every turn.
Americans for Prosperity has been predicting these and other problems in the president’s plan since its passage in 2010 and is now actively engaged in stopping Obama’s health care plan from being implemented by blocking exchanges in Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and Ohio.
Americans know the truth. A socialized approach to health care is doomed to failure. That’s why most Americans have remained steadily opposed to the bill since it was passed, and today, 53 percent favor repeal. This expansion of an already failing entitlement system will wreak havoc on our economy and the future of a free and prosperous America.
Tim Phillips is the president of Americans for Prosperity (AFP). On March 27th, AFP will host a “Hands off My Health Care” rally on Capitol Hill, as the Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate.