What's the Problem with the Individual Mandate?
Van Jones is a social entrepreneur, CNN political contributor and host of The Messy Truth with Van Jones. Famous for his heart-felt election night coverage, Jones showed up as “the voice of reason” for people in red states and blue throughout the volatile 2016 political season. In response to much civil unrest and energy post-election, Jones launched the #Love Army -- a values-based movement that is working for an America where everyone counts.
Jones has founded and led numerous social enterprises engaged in social and environmental justice, including The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and The Dream Corps.
Jones is a Yale-educated attorney. He is the author of two New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008) and Rebuild the Dream (2012). The second book chronicles his journey as an environmental and human rights activist to becoming a White House policy advisor.
He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act. Signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Green Jobs Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term “green jobs.” During the Obama Administration, the legislation has resulted in $500 million in national funding for green jobs training.
In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to President Barack Obama. In this role, Jones helped to lead the inter-agency process that oversaw the multi-billion dollar investment in skills training and jobs development within the environmental and green energy sectors.
Jones has been honored with numerous awards and spotlighted on several lists of high achievers, including: the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”; and the Root's 2014 "The Root 100." In 2017, Van Jones signed a management deal with Roc Nation, becoming the first political commentator & activist in their family. Jones lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife & two children.
Van Jones: I don't understand how this individual mandate is something that we’ve allowed the Republicans to define as some sort of, quote-unquote, government takeover. In fact, it’s their idea. The progressives were saying we want single-payer. Myself, I would say why do you need insurance companies for health care at all. Insurance is what you buy when you don't know if something bad is going to happen. Maybe I’ll crash my car. Maybe I won't. I don't know. So I’m going to get car insurance just in case. Everybody’s going to get sick and die, so you know every single person’s going to need health insurance. That's not something you can provide insurance for, that's called a service.
So my view, single-payer. The Republicans always said, no, that's too much government. So we came back and said, okay, no single-payer. How about a public option? So you’d a public program, everybody could join Medicare or compete with the private companies, too much government. We want individual responsibility. So we said, fine, you win. We’ll do it your way, individual mandate. And then, they say that is a socialist government takeover. Well, hold on a second now. You’re now a part of the pro-moocher caucus? You’re saying it’s okay for people to just dive bomb their way into the emergency room? Yeah, don't worry about it. Don't get any insurance. The government will pay for it. Now, you're like the pro-freeloader party?
This Republican Party, from my point of view, has taken the posture that any idea, even their own ideas, if they’re championed by this president, they will oppose. And I think that discredits them. It’s like chasing a bunny on the old dog track. They have a mechanical bunny. If you’ve ever been to a dog track, I’m from Tennessee, if you ever go to Memphis, they have a dog track and they have a mechanical bunny. And they open the gates and the dogs just go and try and chase that mechanical bunny. And I think those dogs probably think someday they’re going to catch that bunny. They’re never going to catch that bunny because the bunny keeps moving.
You’re trying to chase the right to try to convince them to agree with you. They will run away from their own ideas if they think a Democrat embraces them. It was a Republican idea to have cap and trade, a market-based, business-friendly solution for carbon and climate problems. That was the Heritage Foundation that came up with cap and trade. We were saying carbon tax. To chase them, we moved to cap and trade and they moved on to don't do anything. Climate change isn't even real.
On health care, it was their idea to have an individual mandate and personal responsibility and don't have a big government single-payer system. We moved from single-payer through public option to individual mandate trying to catch them and now they say that the individual mandate is socialism. You will never catch this bunny. You will never, so what you need to do is stand for what you believe in and bring a majority around your own ideas and govern. And it’s the biggest fallacy on the part of liberals is that that little hound dog running around that track is ever going to catch that bunny and that we will ever be able to compromise enough to appease the right wing in this country so they’ll actually govern with us in a responsible way. They have to be defeated at the ballot box by a stable governing majority that can implement the changes that we need in this country, whether they want to participate or not.
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Insurance is what you buy when you don't know if something bad is going to happen. Maybe I’ll crash my car. Maybe I won't. I don't know. So I’m going to get car insurance just in case. Everybody’s going to get sick and die, so you know every single person’s going to need health insurance. That's not something you can provide insurance for, that's called a service.
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