What possible explanation can there be for this bizarre dysfunction?
One idea Republicans had been pushing was a proposal for a bipartisan commission to recommend tough deficit-reduction measures. But then the Obama administration decided to embrace the idea.
And, lo and behold, as Mike Allen reported in Politico, the Republicans promptly turned on their heels and repudiated it. Six of the bill's Republican co-sponsors voted against it. The justification was that mumble mumble tax increases mumble.
"This law failed by seven votes when seven Republicans who had co-sponsored the bill — had co-sponsored the idea — suddenly walked away from their own proposal after I endorsed it"
"So, they make a proposal. They sign on to the bill. I say, great, good idea. I turn around —
— they're gone. What happened?"
Republicans vociferously oppose the Obamacare individual mandate, calling it unconstitutional, but they invented the damn thing, as Ezra Klein explains:
The mandate made its political début in a 1989 Heritage Foundation brief titled "Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans," as a counterpoint to the single-payer system and the employer mandate, which were favored in Democratic circles. In the brief, Stuart Butler, the foundation’s health-care expert, argued, "Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seat-belts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement."
The mandate made its first legislative appearance in 1993, in the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act—the Republicans’ alternative to President Clinton’s health-reform bill—which was sponsored by John Chafee, of Rhode Island, and co-sponsored by eighteen Republicans, including Bob Dole, who was then the Senate Minority Leader.
For Republicans, the idea of requiring every American to have health insurance is one of the most abhorrent provisions of the Democrats' health overhaul bills.
"Congress has never crossed the line between regulating what people choose to do and ordering them to do it," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "The difference between regulating and requiring is liberty."
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): "For the first time in the history of our country - 225 years - the federal government saying, you have got to buy something. That's never been before."
But their opposition is ironic, or some would say, politically motivated. The last time Congress debated a health overhaul, when Bill Clinton was president, Hatch, Grassley and several other senators who now oppose the so-called individual mandate actually supported a bill that would have required it.
Indeed, with the exception of raising taxes on the rich, virtually every major policy currently associated with the Obama Administration was, within the past decade, a Republican idea in good standing.