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Howard Dean Hopes Supreme Court Throws Out Individual Mandate

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Howard Dean hopes the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Howard Dean shares something with conservative politicians: He, too, is hoping that the Supreme Court throws out the individual mandate.

"I don't give a damn about the individual mandate," the former Vermont governor told progressive activists during a panel discussion at the Take Back the American Dream conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. "It was a foolish thing to do anyway, and I hope it does get thrown out." Dean's remarks followed an audience member's criticism of the Affordable Care Act for not being a single-payer system.

The Supreme Court will rule this month on the constitutionality of the individual mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance.

Dean, a physician, does support the legislation as a whole, however. "I don't want to rest of the bill thrown out," he said, adding, "We didn't get what we wanted, but there are some things we can build on."

Earlier in the discussion, Dean, who has served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had criticized Democrats who "act like Republicans" once elected, citing them as the reason the Affordable Care Act is not a single-payer plan.

"Let's focus our energies on people who are going to make a difference," Dean said. "We want real, progressive Democrats who are going to stand up and fight for change in this country."

Dean, who served on a panel with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), also urged the audience not to buy Brawny paper towels and other products sold by conservative activists, including the Koch brothers whose company manufactures Brawny products.

"This is not just about election year politics," Dean said. "This is about a fundamental struggle for whether the United States of America remains a democratic nation or not."

Ellison amplified Dean's remarks, saying that if the Supreme Court does away with the individual mandate, progressives would have a chance to push for a single payer system, reported the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein.

“If this individual mandate gets thrown out, it is an opportunity for us to organize right away,” Ellison said. “We've got to go in, we've got to shape the debate right away, because the issue will be, 'If not this, what?' Well, the "what' is single payer health care. We've got to prepare ourselves to literally pounce."

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