I have been scanning the political blogs in vain for an actual answer for this.
Yes, the argument against them is mostly being pushed by reactionary, partisan, often racist, creeps and hacks.
Yes, the Obama administration and Democrats are for them.
But is there another example of the Federal government requiring people to buy a product from a private company?
The analogy for the individual mandate has typically been to make the comparison to the requirement to purchase automobile insurance.
But of course that is a requirement by States and State governments under their police power.
Yes, Romney is flip-flopping hypocrite who lies out of both sides of his mouth.
But he is correct that there is an, at least arguable, difference between a State mandate and a Federal mandate.
Obviously as a single payer supporter, I am in favor of a single universal all-American insurance pool paid for by progressive taxation. That we know there are de facto and de jure examples of. Taxes from the citizenry and residents of the U.S. go to support many more or less universal programs which are carried out directly by the government or by the government contracting with private companies to do them. But this is not the same as the Federal government requiring individual citizens to contract with private companies themselves.
Over the past several years some "respectable liberals" have tried to make the argument against single payer and for the Hacker-care mandate plan (originally with a moderate version of a public option), by saying that single payer was also a mandate because it required people to have and pay for coverage via taxation. They chose to ignore the obvious distinction between a government supplied good and service (be it universal pool insurance coverage; social security; military security; unemployment benefits; roads, etc, etc.) paid for by taxes on the one hand, and the Federal government using the police power of the state to require you to buy from a third-party private company.
Now, I am not saying that it is unconstitutional.
I am not saying the 10th Amendment applies.
I am not saying the wingers supporting this are right in their arguments.
But ad hominem attacks against the reactionaries and partisans who are making the argument are not a sufficient answer to the underlying questions. Just because they are schmucks doing it for the wrong reason, is not a valid argument for the validity of the federally enforced individual mandates.
Therefore, I am really and truly asking the question, asking the lawyers and historians within the progressive community (and at dailyKos) to make the argument on its own terms:
- Is there another example of the Federal government requiring people to buy a product from a private company?
- What is the legal basis for the Federal government requiring people to buy a product from a private company?
Part of where I am coming from is the host of things that the Fedreal governement does NOT do in health care that is indeed left to the Staes. Medical licensure, practice acts, certificate of needs, etc. etc. Clearly in health care the longtime constitutional separation of state and federal powers has put many functions at the state level.