It’s time now to clear the air, and as the president explained earlier today, Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has been, and will continue to be, single-minded and relentless:
“I recognize that the Republican Party has made blocking the Affordable Care Act its signature policy idea. Sometimes it seems to be the one thing that unifies the party these days. In fact, they are willing to shut down the government and potentially harm the global economy to try to get it repealed.”
Interestingly, the charge against the Affordable Care Act has, to some extent, been led by former Senator Jim DeMint, who’s now the president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. And even after Republicans had surrendered last week, Mr. DeMint was still at it, attacking the law in the Wall Street Journal and praising those who brought the country to a standstill: “[It] is why so many are thankful for the courageous leadership of people like Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and conservatives in the House of Representatives,” he wrote.
Unfortunately, that group clearly does not include Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who had this to say about the Heritage Foundation’s stance: “There’s a real question in the minds of many Republicans now, and I’m not just speaking for myself—for a lot of people—that, is Heritage going to go so political that it really doesn’t amount to anything any more?”
That’s a particularly pertinent statement because the Affordable Care Act, with its individual mandate which forces Americans to buy health insurance and appears to force Republicans to throw up over their breakfast, is not the work of the current president. In fact, the individual mandate was first proposed by two conservative think tanks—one of which was the Heritage Foundation—and back in 1989, Stuart Butler, a distinguished fellow at Heritage, explained why everyone should be required to sign up for health care:
“If a young man wrecks his Porsche and has not had the foresight to obtain insurance, we may commiserate, but society feels no obligation to repair his car. But health care is different. If a man is struck down by a heart attack in the street, Americans will care for him, whether or not he has insurance.”
So, there you have it: Heritage was strongly in favor of the principle behind the Affordable Care Act before it was strongly against it. And the moment when that transition occurred?
That would be when a senator from Illinois became the 44th President of the United States.