Even before President Obama’s new health reform law was enacted, Republicans insisted that its “individual mandate” was an “unprecedented” assault on individual freedom. They have branded this mandate, which would require that most Americans who can afford it carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty, is uniquely egregious because it “compels” people to buy a “commercial product”—a scarifying precedent for mandating the forced purchase of GM cars, health club memberships, or even the dreaded broccoli. A month ago, on March 28, 49 House Republicans signed a brief pushing all these rhetorical buttons in urging a federal appeals court in Atlanta to overturn the entire health care law on the ground that the mandate unconstitutionally “places Americans’ economic liberty at risk.”
Given this history, it would be surprising if Republicans were to endorse a comparably freedom-squelching measure in another bill. But on April 15, that is precisely what they did, when all but four of the 239-member House Republican Caucus approved the fiscal 2012 budget resolution implementing Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap to Prosperity” plan for massive tax and spending cuts.