29 Mar
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[man-deyt] noun a command or authorization to act in a particular way on a public issue 

I guess that you would have to be living under a rock not to know that this week the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the constitutionality of the mandate provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or, as it is more commonly known, Obamacare).  The act requires (i.e. forces or mandates) people to buy health insurance or be subject to a monetary penalty.

When all the hyperbole and posturing is set aside, the essential question before the Court is: does the federal government have the power to force people to buy a particular product (in this case health insurance).  Let’s stop for a moment and consider that.  If the federal government has the power to force citizens to buy health insurance, what else do they have the power to force us to do?  If the Court holds that the mandate is constitutional, would there be anything left that the federal government does not have the power to force us to do?  It stands to reason that if they can force us to buy something, then they would also be able to force us not to buy something.  One can only imagine how those who oppose the Second Amendment could use that argument to further restrict our right to bear arms.

The irony here is that, when proposed, the mandate provision was seen as the “least intrusive” and “most conservative” way to achieve universal health care.  The theory was that the alternative, the government actually providing the insurance (i.e. the “public option”) would create a socialistic type government bureaucracy that would take us way beyond the welfare state.  Mandating or forcing people to buy health insurance was more acceptable, according to this logic, because what the government was essentially doing was “forcing” people to take responsibility for themselves.  And after all, this line of thought concludes, what could be more appealing to conservatives than people taking responsibility for themselves?

No question that the public option would have blown the already dangerously high federal deficit through the roof.  It would have destroyed any chance at achieving the fiscal discipline that we so desperately need.  But, come on!  We Republicans believe in and champion personal responsibility because it leads to optimal innovation and efficiency.  To the contrary, we believe that one does not take responsibility for himself if he is being forced to do so.  Americans do not need the government to tell us to be responsible.  Responsible Americans built this country without the need for mandates.  It’s time we again realize that responsibility comes from within and cannot be imposed by a government bureaucracy.  If we let this “most conservative” approach to universal health care stand, we will surrender the last bits of freedom and dignity we have left, i.e., the freedom and dignity to be responsible for ourselves and to determine our own destinies.

Joseph Mendola, a native New Yorker and a graduate of Columbia Law School was the 2009 Republican candidate for NYC Comptroller.  He received nearly 200,000 votes, the most of any Republican running for office in NYC in 2009 except for Michael Bloomberg.  Joe is licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Florida. He works in the securities industry and holds 10 different FINRA sponsored licenses.  A direct survivor of 9/11, Joe lives with his 2 young children in one of America’s greatest liberal bastions, New York City’s Greenwich Village.  He may be reached at jmendolanyc@aol.com.

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