The health care story of the day is that the Left — yes, the Left — has turned against the health insurance mandate. National Review Online has a great roundup of the liberal opinionmakers who are storming the barricades, including Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, Keith Olbermann, Howard Dean, and Jon Walker of Firedoglake.
It’s a bit rich, of course, since the individual mandate has been in the bill since the beginning. The same arguments being employed now by the Left have been championed by anti-mandate conservatives — including this blog — for months now. I suspect that what’s really going on here is that liberals are angry about the lack of a single-payer or its Trojan Horse, the public option, in the Senate bill. They have to give their folks in Washington some ammunition to bring it down.
Rather than taking on their president, however, they are choosing to go after the real outrage in the bill — the fact that it’s “sell[ing] the middle class into corporate servitude” when it “makes them criminals if they don’t buy insurance.” In fact, since the Obama campaign opposed the mandate during the campaign (his central point contention with Hillary on health care), their attack gives him cover to retrench to his original anti-mandate position.
I’ve argued for a while that conservatives made a mistake when they attacked the public option as the central front in the war against the Left’s health care agenda. It’s the mandate’s coercive, unconstitutional power that has the most potential to destroy the relationship between Americans and their government. If it takes lefty bloggers to get this issue front-page status, that’s fine with me. To my liberal friends, feel free to raid this blog’s posts on the mandate if they help you make your case. And to my conservative friends — now’s the time to join the fight!