There’s no question that the individual mandate is the center of the ObamaCare universe. Many other provisions are crucial to the law, but none to the extent of the individual mandate. This is what made John Roberts’ decision last June to abandon originalism by constitutionally validating the individual mandate tax-penalty so painful. Regardless of where the court came down on severability, the law could not have effectively functioned without the mandate intact.
Which brings us to the most recent episode of the ObamaCare delay game, this time focused on a one-year individual mandate delay. At the height of the CR/debt-ceiling showdown, I wrote a post titled “Don’t Settle for One-Year Individual Mandate Delay,” arguing that any acceptable compromise would need to at least delay the exchange subsidies to be an effective barrier toward full implementation.
Those were the good ol’ days where there was hope that the Republicans would stand together and fight for real ObamaCare concessions. Like defunding it or a one-year delay of the entire law. In retrospect, I suppose I should have written a post titled “Don’t Settle for…Nothing.”
So here’s my point again: The first year of the individual mandate isn’t that big of a deal. It’s an existential issue as a matter of constitutional law and individual liberty generally, but don’t believe the hype that the individual mandate is absolutely essential to ObamaCare in the first year.
There are two major reasons why: