Obamacare Enrollment Was Driven by Coercion

Obamacare by from The Weekly Standard, June 4, 2014

Before President Obama took office, the federal government left Americans free to buy only those products or services they chose to buy. Under Obamacare, however, that has changed. For the first time in our nation’s 200-plus-year history, the federal government now compels private American citizens to buy a product or service of the government’s choosing—namely, Obamacare-compliant health insurance—merely as a condition of living in the United States. The question is, did this unprecedented level of coercion fuel enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges? Recent polling suggests that it did.

The polling in question was conducted for Enroll America by PerryUndem. Politico writes that Enroll America was “was dreamed up by liberal advocates of the health care law” and is “employing political campaign tactics” to spark Obamacare enrollment. It’s headed by Anne Filipic, a former White House official and Obama campaign staffer. In other words, this isn’t a right-wing poll.

The poll asked those who bought Obamacare-compliant insurance to list the reasons why they bought it, offering 15 potential responses. The first and third most-common responses were (first) “It’s the law” (36 percent) and (third) “I didn’t want to pay the fine” (34 percent). Comparatively, only 23 percent picked “I wanted insurance for my family,” and only 19 percent picked “I could afford a plan.”

The fine was even more important in ensnaring the young, who are forced to pay artificially inflated premiums under Obamacare. The poll writes, “Avoiding the fine was more important to young adults (18-29),” as 42 percent of them gave that as a reason for enrolling. The mandate also “mattered more to Latinos,” as 41 percent of Latinos “say a reason they enrolled was because ‘it’s the law.’”

In all, the poll writes, “Individuals enrolled for many reasons, particularly the law/fine.” It adds, “As many as 40% indicate they might not have enrolled without the mandate.”

These results invite the following question: Is it really appropriate for the president of the United States to brag about having gotten millions of Americans to buy a product when the most common reason they gave for buying it was that they were compelled by his signature legislation to do so?

In light of its demonstrated importance, moreover, it seems strange that Republicans have largely gone silent on the detested mandate. Obama doesn’t talk about it for obvious reasons—that affront to liberty has long been the part of Obamacare that Americans have hated the most. But why the silence from the GOP? Shouldn’t the Republican-controlled House be passing legislation to make the fine $0 for violating the individual mandate in 2015? (The House passed similar legislation for 2014, but only after 2014 was well underway.) Shouldn’t Senate Republicans then insist upon a vote on that legislation and do what’s necessary to make it happen?  GOP candidates for offices in both chambers could then campaign in support of such legislation as a welcome step on the road to full repeal.

What’s more, shouldn’t Republicans be advancing legislation to drain the Obamacare slush fund that Obama is currently using to buy off his insurance-company allies and mask his unconstitutional refusal to faithfully execute the law? It’s bad enough that Obamacare’s enrollment is being driven by coercion from the federal government of a sort that our nation has never before experienced or tolerated. It’s even worse that Obama is also implementing Obamacare in a lawless fashion and is using taxpayer money to cover his tracks.

So, where are the Republicans?

© 2014 Weekly Standard LLC. Reprinted with permission.