It's only OK if a state does it
by David Atkins
No one ever accused Ann Coulter of consistency or intellectual maturity, but even then this is really something:
Ann Coulter offered a surprising defense of Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health care law -- affectionately dubbed 'Romneycare' -- on Wednesday.
In a blog post featured on her website, entitled "Three Cheers For Romneycare!", she explains, "If only the Democrats had decided to socialize the food industry or housing, Romneycare would probably still be viewed as a massive triumph for conservative free-market principles -- as it was at the time...
In her post, Coulter lays out what she sees as a basic distinction between the Massachusetts law and the federal law. "One difference between the health care bills is that Romneycare is constitutional and Obamacare is not," writes Coulter.
Coulter explains the big difference:
As Rick Santorum has pointed out, states can enact all sorts of laws — including laws banning contraception — without violating the Constitution. That document places strict limits on what Congress can do, not what the states can do. Romney, incidentally, has always said his plan would be a bad idea nationally.
The only reason the “individual mandate” has become a malediction is because the legal argument against Obamacare is that Congress has no constitutional authority to force citizens to buy a particular product.
One perspective on this would be to mock Coulter as an irrelevant has-been making an argument of convenience for her candidate. But that approach seriously underestimates the degree to which tentherism has wholly consumed a significant portion of the Republican Party.
The remarkable thing about tentherism is that while it is clearly driven by wingnuts who don't want the federal goverment denying them the "right" to work 9-year-olds for $2 an hour while segregating the schools, in theory it is completely devoid of any particular ideology beyond the notion that each State can run its affairs pretty much however it pleases. What Coulter is saying here is that she doesn't object to the Affordable Care Act in principle, beyond the notion that such things should be enacted solely at a State rather than Federal level. For daring to implement at a national level what Romney did at a State level, President Obama is an overweaning Socialist Dictator.
Most normal people would say that's crazy. Things like child labor laws and healthcare mandates are either a good idea or they're not. Some people passionately oppose them, while some passionately support them. Generally speaking, they either work for everyone with minor nuances and exceptions, or they work for almost no one. That's basic Kantian ethics (which is why Kant was Ayn Rand's public enemy #1.)
There is precious little Constitutional backing for views like Coulter's and Ron Paul's. But even if there were, it would be a sure sign that the Constitution needed changing to reflect modern reality. Stretching for strict Constitutionalist mewling in the face of every piece of common sense and ideological coherence is the sign either of a dishonest or immature, hyper-legalistic mind.
Coulter's argument amounts to an abandonment of even her own shoddy ethical principles, in favor of the adoption of the bizarre assumption that allowing the State of Alabama to control people's lives is somehow more "free" than allowing Washington, D.C. to do so--regardless of the ideology of the laws in question.
I don't really think most Americans will go for that idea. It would inevitably lead to dissolution of the Union. But hey, if that's the direction history takes us, so be it. Those states should really be careful what they wish for.