Republicans are trying to defeat ObamaCare by arguing that its public option -- or government-run insurance plan -- will drive private insurance companies out of business, leaving Americans with less - not more - options. But the fudmental problem with ObamaCare, I note in my latest Forbes column, is not the public option, but its tyrannical designs to force all Americans to purchase coverage through an insurance mandate. Build public support against this, and the whole Rube Goldberg-like edifice that is ObamaCare will come tumbling down.
A mandate will fundamentally alter the relationship between Americans and their government. Instead of the government being accountable to them, they will become accountable to their government. No less than the Congressional Budget Office--a non-partisan government agency--once admitted as much. "A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action," it noted. "The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States."
If the government can force Americans to buy coverage on the threat of fines or even imprisonment--an option that Nancy Pelosi has pointedly refused to rule out--every other government diktat becomes small potatoes by contrast. In fact, it becomes necessary. If uninsured Americans must buy coverage, why shouldn't other Americans be taxed to subsidize them? Why shouldn't the insurance industry be required to sell them coverage? Why shouldn't government set insurance prices to ensure affordability? Why shouldn't doctors and hospitals be asked to charge only "reasonable" rates--or offer only government-sanctioned treatments? Nothing about ObamaCare fundamentally changes so long as the individual mandate remains intact.
Therefore, instead of wonkishly droning about the public option, Republicans should counter Democrats' grand appeals for "universal coverage for all" with equally grand appeals for "medical freedom for all." They should stand together on the Capitol steps and issue the health care equivalent of Reagan's Berlin Wall ultimatum: "Mr. President: Tear up this mandate."
Whole column here.