Americans Reject Obamacare, Mandate-Centered Approach | The Weekly Standard


Americans Reject Obamacare, Mandate-Centered Approach | The Weekly Standard.

By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON

As is becoming increasingly clear, the legislation that was the principal cause of the Democrats’ historic defeat in 2010 isn’t getting any more popular as President Obama heads toward his day of accountability to the American citizenry. Four days before the 2-year anniversary of when Obama signed Obamacare into law, an ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that Americans oppose the president’s signature legislation by a much larger margin than in the immediate aftermath of its passage.   

US Supreme Court

ABC News/Washington Post polling nearly always skews Democratic, but even it showed Obamacare to be unpopular in March 2010 — by a 4-point margin (50 percent opposed, 46 percent in favor). That margin of opposition is now 11 points (52 percent opposed, 41 percent in favor). Back then, the margin among those who felt “strongly” (either way) was 8 points (40 percent opposed, 32 percent in favor). It’s now 17 points (41 percent opposed, 24 percent in favor). Perhaps most worrisome of all for the president, members of presumably the most important subset of voters — independents who feel strongly — now oppose Obamacare by a margin of 2 to 1 (44 to 22 percent).

Moreover, one week before the Supreme Court will begin to hear challenges to Obamacare’s constitutionality from 26 states, two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) think the Court should void the individual mandate that would require essentially every American to buy government-approved health insurance under penalty of law. Sixty-three percent of those 67 percent (42 percent overall), think the Court should void the rest of Obamcare as well, as U.S. District Court judge Roger Vinson did. (Vinson essentially argued that Obamacare cannot realistically function (a point the White House has effectively granted) — and would not realistically have been passed — without the individual mandate; therefore, the mandate should not be surgically extracted from the center of the act, leaving the surrounding parts intact. Rather, the mandate’s invalidation must invalidate the entire act.) In sharp contrast, only about a quarter of Americans (26 percent) think the Court should uphold the act in its entirety.

Clearly, most Americans don’t “like mandates” nearly as much as Obama or the current Republican frontrunner do. During the Obamacare debate, Mitt Romney wrote a USA Today op-ed in which he seemingly encouraged Obama (who had claimed to oppose an individual mandate when running for president) to include an individual mandate in Obamacare. After Obamacare’s passage, when much of the GOP had already indicated its clear determination to settle for nothing less than full repeal, Romney described the mandate as one of “the similarities” between Romneycare and Obamacare that he “like[d],” suggesting that the mandate was one the “good” parts of Obamacare that he’d like to “keep.” 

Romney now says he opposes the individual mandate in Obamacare and thinks it’s unconstitutional. However, he continues to describe his own mandate in Massachusetts as the right policy, rather than as an affront to liberty he now wishes he could undo.

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