Free Markets, Free People

Let’s pretend “mandate” doesn’t really mean “mandate”

That seems to be the solution Andrew Sabl has concocted to temper the outrage directed at Democrats for mandating everyone must buy health insurance.  If you’re a fan of word salad, this will please you:

The phrase “individual mandate,” though it explained to wonks how we were going to achieve near-universal coverage, was always bound to make for atrocious framing.  Pairing it with a subsidy is great policy but possibly even worse framing.  Now one thing people don’t like—being told by the government what to do—is supposed to be made better by another thing they don’t like—admitting they need government help.

Here is another way of describing ACA that’s completely accurate but explains the point much better:

“If you or your family aren’t getting health insurance through your job, the government will pay to get you private insurance coverage, just as an employer would.  You’ll have to contribute something—but the law guarantees, with specific numbers, that it will be no more than you can afford. It’ll be less than three percent of your paycheck if your family makes $33,000 a year, less than ten percent if you make as much as $88,000.  Pre-existing conditions won’t matter.  The government will still pay for your insurance, with the same affordable contribution from you.”

The bill has lots more—things that make it even better.  But that, it seems to me, is the basic idea.  And if we drill it in, people (Fox News junkies aside) will stop imagining that the bill is somehow about government telling people without insurance that they have to get it because the government won’t help them.  It’s the opposite.  Under ACA, it’s the government’s job to get you insurance, and to pay for almost all of it if you can’t afford it.  Before, you were on your own.

Objections?

Well I can think of many, but first let’s start with the good Stephen Bainbridge’s characterization of this attempt at giving a word a new meaning:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Bainbridge goes onto point out that “mandate” comes from the word “mandatory” as in you must do, obtain, be, spend, whatever is demanded. It’s not a suggestion. There’s no option.  It’s not something you can decide to ignore. In this case there’s the force of law behind it and 16,000 new IRS agents to insure you fulfill it – something Sabl seems to have somehow missed. Also apparently forgotten by Sabl is the fact that fines for not buying your mandated coverage are one of the major revenue streams with which this monstrosity is fed.

But the best irony is saved for last: Sabl entitles his blog “The Reality Based Community” with the sub “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Indeed.

~McQ

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13 Responses to Let’s pretend “mandate” doesn’t really mean “mandate”

  • Yet again dense righties fail to grasp the holy writ of post-modernism. Sabl is perfectly entitled by post-modernism to his own multiple truth in which he defines words the way he needs them to be defined to defend wonderful leftist policies.

    So you guys don’t understand post-modernism yet again. Yet you all are secretly post-modernists because you do cherry-picking of your data. Got it?

    Thank goodness I’m here to give you the benefit of my analysis. Analysis, analysis, analysis, that’s what I do. Not opinion, no sir. Analysis. Because I get to define that word to mean whatever I want, according to the holy writ os postmodernism, as I said before. {chuckle} LOL. If you disagree, you doth protest too much.

  • It’s really interesting that the elephant in the room is that most mid- to large-cap companies “self insure” meaning the pay all the bills (but often hire Blue Cross or somebody else to administer their program).
    That billion dollar charge by AT&T is to cover costs not in their program which includes retirees.

  • You’ll have to contribute something—but the law guarantees, with specific numbers, that it will be no more than you can afford.

    Um…. When I “have to” do something, that sort of means that it’s mandated, right?  And there are penalties if I don’t (ahem) volunteer to go along?

    Who the hell is Sabl or anybody else to decide whether something is “more than I can afford”???  What I can and can’t afford is a decision that I make based on how much money / credit I have and how badly I want it, NOT on somebody else’s assurance that it’s a sweet deal for me.  What’s next?  Will Uncle Sugar will park a shiny-new Chrysler in my driveway and tell me that I have to pay for it, but I should be grateful because it’s a great car and that the payment will be no more than I can afford?  Liberals are stupid enough to fall for this sort of rationalization AND think that the rest of us are, too.  Sheesh.

    Under ACA, it’s the government’s job to get you insurance…

    Really?  So, it’s sort of like Price Line or Progressive?  They’ll send an expert to shop insurance plans for me and find me the best rate on the sort of coverage that I think is appropriate for me?  Or is it more of, they’ll fine the sh*t out of me if I don’t do this myself and get a plan that meets with their approval?

    … and to pay for almost all of it if you can’t afford it

    So, if my insurance bill is $100 per month and I can only afford $1, they’ll send a check to the insurance company for the other $99?  And who decides whether or not I can afford it?  Do I get to decide how much I can afford?  Or is it more that some “commission” or “board” or bureaucrat will decide how much I can afford based on my income bracket and tell me how much I have to spend or they’ll fine the sh*t out of me?

    Before, you were on your own.

    Oh, the horror!  Why, everybody I know just has nightmares about being on their own, seperated from the safety of the herd and forced to make their own decisions about their own lives!  / sarc

    I can appreciate that libs are morons who really DO need somebody to tie their shoes for them and wipe the drool from their mouths, but the rest of us – somehow – manage to stumble through our lives without a nanny from the federal government mandating how we’re supposed to do it.

    That the libs are spending so much time trying to sell this monstrosity after it passed tells me that they KNOW people have good reason to hate it and that the KNOW it’s gonna kill them in the mid-terms if they can’t sucker enough of us into changing our minds.

  • I actually started laughing here:

    The phrase “individual mandate,” though it explained to wonks how we were going to achieve near-universal coverage, was always bound to make for atrocious framing.

    This is the same old excuse of, “It is not the policy that is bad but how the message is being delivered.”  Wrong.  It is a mandate and it is bad policy.  The only way you can get people to believe it is good policy is to go through wild contortions.  Thus the mandate is not really a mandate argument.  Too funny.
     

    • Yeah, that was amusing.  Then again, politics is like marketing, it is about re-phrasing something until it doesn’t sound as bad as it really is.  And thus we understand the problem Sabl is wrestling with.  His solution appears to be to try to convince us that we’re not kissing a pig, we’re really just kissing some lipstick.

  • This is semantics until it get’s to court, but I think this will be the general idea behind a ruling that this is not unconstitutional.

    Forget the mandate, remember the tax.

    This isn’t a tax on people who don’t have insurance, it’s a tax break for people that do.

    Congress has the power to tax, and taxes can be discriminatory.

    You get to skip the 2.5% tax if you have insurance, you don’t get to skip it if you don’t.

    This is just my opinion of the how the court cases will end up. I’ll leave the framing to people who care.

    • Then they certainly wrote it badly.
      It would have been easier to say that it was a tax, that can be foregoed if you obtain insurance on your own.
      They made it a non-enforced tax  … a suggested tax ?
      For anybody interested in a “suggest tax” (and I know that all Progressives love taxes), the Bureau of Public Debt takes “donations” to the National Debt.

    • Rove v Wade and follow-on rulings makes it clear that the government has no business in my private medical manners (or even if I have insurance for that matter).  That is a matter between me and my physician.
      I suggest that all plaintiffs use Roe v Wade as part of their claim.  Otherwise, once the government is at the table helping you make medical decisions, the whole “private” underpinnings of Roe v Wade are blown to hell.  A follow on socially conservative administration could rule abortion illegal  … and it would stick.
      The “Pro-Choice” (and pro-abortion) forces don’t see this yet, but they could lose abortion in the process of twisting the law to make  ObamaCare legal.

    • Not so.  It is a penalty on those who have not had the foresight to have a job or to have a job with health insurance.  For example, someone under the age of 65 living off an annuity, inheritance, or forced to retire early because of health.    You would like to call it a tax, but calling a tail a leg does not make the tail a leg.

    • “This isn’t a tax on people who don’t have insurance, it’s a tax break for people that do.”
      That’s now how the bill is written.
      “Congress has the power to tax, and taxes can be discriminatory.”
      No, taxes must be uniform.  For example, you could not tax someone because they are black.

  • You’ll have to contribute something—but the law guarantees, with specific numbers, that it will be no more than you can afford.

    My concern with this is that, as has happened with Medicare and Medicaid, what the law guarantees can be changed as “need” arises.  Putting aside the assumption that a government bureaucrat is capable of figuring out just how much a family making X dollars a year can afford, one has to wonder how those numbers may change if the government finds that it doesn’t have enough money to pay for the program.  Perhaps today, the government feels that a family earning $88,000 a year should pay less than 10% of that for health care.  Maybe in a few years, the government will decide that a family making $88,000 a year can afford to spend up to 12.5% on health care.
    Or maybe government will decide that $750 is far too small a fine for an individual to pay for refusing health insurance.  And maybe government will decide that lax enforcement of that provision is unacceptable.  On the other hand, one way to deal with budgetary shortfalls is to ration care or eliminate services.  Or both.  Or both along with increases in contributions, and fines, and enforcement.

  • You’ll have to contribute something—but the law guarantees, with specific numbers, that it will be no more than you can afford

    >>>>>>  Meaning what exactly?  Based on my paycheck? They don’t know my expenses. What if what they say I “can afford” isn’t what I think I can afford?

  • Hmmm.  Nice reverse compliment.  If Fox News junkies are the only ones smart enough to see through this BS…