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The true cost of Obamacare is liberty

The true cost of Obamacare is liberty

Wayne Hoffman
April 26, 2010
Wayne Hoffman
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April 26, 2010

The Congressional Budget Office released new data Thursday estimating that by 2016, some 4 million Americans will face penalties for failing to buy health insurance as mandated under Obamacare.

Additionally, the CBO estimated that 25 percent of those facing the penalty will be at the low end of the income scale; the penalty is expected to apply to about 400,000 Americans living below the federal poverty level (projected for 2016 to be $11,800 for a single person and $24,000 for a family of four). Another 600,000 Americans earning between 100 and 200 percent of poverty will face the government‘s fines, the report estimated.

Meanwhile, another report released Thursday said Obamacare will plunge Americans into even more debt than previously considered. The Medicare Actuary report said, “Over the longer term, expenditures would exceed premium receipts, and there is a very serious risk that the program would become unsustainable as a result.”

The problem with the CBO’s estimate, the Medicare actuary report and the political reaction to them is there is no calculation on the considerable impact to human dignity. Yes, we know some people will be financially penalized by Obamacare, and that should be deeply troubling for an administration that claims to be on the side of the poor and downtrodden.

The dollar value of the penalty is easy to figure at 2.5 percent of a person’s income. We know there’s a deficit tax — the cost to our kids for our wanton spending that comes from printing money.

As worrisome is the toll on our concept of liberty. In other words, even if these reports offered glowing predictions for America’s health care future, it would not matter. We’re still trucking down the road toward socialism.

Supporters of the new health insurance mandate insist that it is a natural extension of the compact individuals must have with the greater society — that if one person fails to buy insurance, other Americans would be required to pick up the cost for that person should he or she have some catastrophic medical condition.

If Americans are willing to accept that the federal government can tell them what product to buy, what else can the government insist that Americans purchase as a condition of their lawful citizenship? If it makes sense that Americans be mandated to buy health insurance, doesn’t it logically fall that Americans be mandated to buy a treadmill? An exercise bike? A gym membership? After all, under President Obama and Congress’ understanding of the national interest, isn’t my failure to exercise a concern to the country as a whole?

And if we’re willing to accept those further mandates as part of the greater good, does that mean we’d be willing to accept a government that monitors and restricts other behaviors as well under the notion that each action by one person may have a deleterious impact on another?

Does an action as simple as a second or third helping of pie require government intervention because that might have an impact on my lifestyle, which is now a direct concern of my neighbor, and therefore my government?

The CBO’s estimate of the penalties that will be incurred in the first few years of Obamacare is $4 billion. The real cost of this legislation is from the loss of our liberty, the actual cost of which is incalculable and unimaginable.

Wayne Hoffman is the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank. E-mail him at wayne@idahofreedom.net.

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