President Obama’s closing argument is that you should vote for him based on trust. But he betrayed the most central policy promise of his 2008 campaign when he imposed a mandate forcing Americans to buy expensive health insurance from giant private insurance companies.
Four years ago, Obama was adamantly opposed to the mandate, attacking it as his principal criticism of Hillary Clinton’s domestic agenda. For instance, consider these words from Obama in his 2008 debate against Clinton: “She believes that we have to force people who don’t have health insurance to buy it… there’s going to have to be some enforcement mechanism that the government uses and they may charge people who already don’t have health care fines, or have to take it out of their paycheck and that I don’t think is helping those who don’t have health insurance. That is a genuine difference.”
Once he became president, that “genuine difference” was quickly jettisoned. More interested in corrupt backroom deals and political advantage than genuine reform, Obama cut a deal with the major insurance companies that centered on the mandate. They let him impose all kinds of restrictive regulations on them and in return he forced everyone in America to buy their product – with billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to sweeten the pot.
Four year ago, Obama told us he would oppose the mandate and instead focus on lowering costs. He said: “I believe the reason people don’t have health care isn’t because no one’s forced them to buy it, it’s because no one’s made it affordable – and that’s what we’ll do when I am president.” Another broken promise.
Contrary to its deceptive name, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has not made health care more affordable. Quite the opposite. Obama promised premiums would go down $2,500 – they’ve actually gone up by more than that amount. And they’ll keep going up; for instance in Ohio, premiums are expected to jump between 55 and 85 percent in the individual market.
Even Jonathan Gruber (the MIT economist who was infamously paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Obama administration while he testified as an “independent expert” that the bill would reduce costs) now concedes that PPACA will cause premiums to “dramatically increase.” Gruber has now publicly stated that premiums in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Minnesota will “dramatically increase.” In Wisconsin, he estimates a 30 percent jump.
Mitt Romney is not perfect on this issue. In fact, he supported the mandate at the state level in Massachusetts. But he has consistently campaigned against it on the federal level and promised to repeal PPACA. Moreover, to the extent he was wrong on the issue in the past, he’s right now. Obama flipping from right to wrong is much worse. And less trustworthy.
The American people overwhelmingly oppose the mandate. Notwithstanding the bizarre reasoning of the Supreme Court, Gallup has found that 72 percent of Americans believe the mandate is unconstitutional. Even a majority of Democrats and a majority of PPACA supporters believe the mandate violates the U.S. Constitution’s limits on federal power.
Barack Obama became president by slamming Hillary Clinton on this issue, including running a hard-hitting advertisement in Pennsylvania, saying: “Hillary Clinton is attacking. But what’s she not telling you about her health care plan? It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it. And you pay a penalty if you don’t.”
Curiously, that ad now says “This video is private. Sorry about that,” when you try to view it on Obama’s YouTube account. Maybe he wants the people of Pennsylvania to forget he did exactly what he attacked Hillary for wanting to do.
On health care, overwhelmingly Obama’s top first-term priority even while the economy suffered, he did exactly the opposite of what he said on the campaign trail. Now he says we can trust him with a second term – but who knows how many promises would be broken if we made that mistake again.