The consensus seems to be that we should crap on Solicitor General Don Verrilli for struggling to defend the individual mandate....
It would have been easy for Verrilli--or any of us--to explain single-payer health care. "Look," we could have said, "the government is paying for everyone to have coverage." End of story. But single-payer is not what our brilliant, world-leading political system gave us. What it gave us is essentially a halfsy--an extraordinarily confusing patchwork in which some novel legislative mechanisms are used to induce individuals, businesses, insurance companies, and states into doing things that add up to concrete good.
Why did it go down that way? In part because lawmakers are essentially shortsighted, self-serving, and scared of their own shadow. But there's a bigger problem: health care as a system is incredibly complicated, and also incredibly scary and off-putting for voters to think about--which is the reason most people never want to talk about it or learn about it in the first place.
And which, of course, is why Obamacare has such a narrow political base; "Which is why," notes Sullivan, "one possible end-result of all this would be a stronger argument for a simple, constitutional single-payer system."
It was old-school conservatives who once took the philosophical lead in warning of the bushwhacking law of unintended consequences. The contemporary crop may soon, and rather rudely, be reintroduced to the old wisdom.