Everyone is talking about Laurence Tribe today, and I apologize for bringing him up yet again. However — there’s a subtle point in the ObamaCare debate I haven’t heard anywhere else. First, let’s go to Tribe for the setup:
The justices aren’t likely to be misled by the reasoning that prompted two of the four federal courts that have ruled on this legislation to invalidate it on the theory that Congress is entitled to regulate only economic “activity,” not “inactivity,” like the decision not to purchase insurance. This distinction is illusory. Individuals who don’t purchase insurance they can afford have made a choice to take a free ride on the health care system. They know that if they need emergency-room care that they can’t pay for, the public will pick up the tab.
Tribe is quite right. There is a moral hazard here. If no one may be turned down for health insurance for any reason, then there is an incentive to game the system, to get others to pay.
But what no one is saying is that ObamaCare creates this specific moral hazard, and that government insurance creates moral hazards more generally.
So, yes, Tribe is right. But his logic is: There’s this problem government has created and the only way to solve it is to do what government tells you to do. By that logic, and Tribe admits it pretty explicitly, there is no limit to what government may compel you to do.