Keith Olbermann is ready to go to jail over it. Markos Moulitas is pre pared to see the health-care bill die over it. Howard Dean is assaulting the White House over it.
It's the individual mandate, the source of rare cross-ideological agreement in the health-care debate. The provision to force everyone to buy health insurance long labored in obscurity, overshadowed by the more glamorous and controversial public option. No more.
The public option's death left the individual mandate exposed. Disappointed Liberals now confront in the cold light of day a provision that will, by force of law, make people hand over money -- and a lot of it, as a percentage of their total income -- to the insurance companies.
As far as the left is concerned, the individual mandate will make Barack Obama the tax collector for the insurance-industrial complex.
Outside of the income and payroll taxes and Prohibition, the individual mandate might be the most intrusive peacetime measure ever undertaken by the federal government. It will require people to buy a private good or service as a basic condition of living in the United States. If the Constitution weren't all but a dead letter on such questions, there'd be a roiling debate over what authority the federal government has for this coercive extravagance.
We'll have to settle for a right-left pincer movement. against it. The right hates the governmental fiat and thinks -- given the regulations and taxes that add to the cost of insurance -- the mandate's a bad deal. As one wag said of the bill, "First, it transforms insurance into a product that few rational people would buy. Second, it forces them to buy it."
The left hates that the insurance companies get the proceeds. Instead of cutting out the dastardly "middle man," the bill ensures that the middle man scoops up even more customers. (continues here)