by Max Brantley
Ernest Dumas has written several times on Republican hypocrisy on the individual mandate in the Obama administration health legislation. The mandate was invented and championed for years by Republican thinkers and politicians. Now it's a frontal assault on freedom.
What changed? Ezra Klein, in noting the hypocrisy, too, writes today:
Perhaps hypocrisy in pursuit of liberty is no vice, and consistency in service of President Obama's political fortunes is no virtue. But the individual mandate had significant conservative support from 1993 to the summer of 2009 and became, among conservatives, an unconstitutional travesty only in the fall of 2009. There's no policy argument that accounts for that change. Nothing new was discovered about the Constitution, or about the individual mandate.
What changed was that Obama and the Democrats were getting closer and closer to passing the health-reform bill, and conservatives found they didn't have the votes to stop it. That meant they needed the Supreme Court to do it for them. And the individual mandate, which was both the least popular part of the policy and one of the few that wasn't specifically present elsewhere in the federal government, was their best chance. I could see an "ends justify the means" argument for this. But there's no real way to wipe out the reality of the means.
And, then, of course, the Republican baseline motivation is not to govern but to defeat the opposition. Thus it is that they are already plotting tricks to roll President Obama in the new Congress.