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.
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.”