Today a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by David Rivkin and Lee Casey (“Washington D.C.-based attorneys” who “served in the Department of Justice during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations”) tells us that federally mandated health care is “profoundly unconstitutional.” They raise the specter of a similar federal “tax” to force citizens “to join a health club, or exercise regularly, or even eat your vegetables,” and predict trouble with the Supreme Court for any such plan. The authors also lean heavily on the distinction between state and federal government, which perhaps motivates their exclusion of any mention of car insurance, some form of which is mandated in most states. But if the Supreme Court invalidates national health insurance, we expect auto insurance requirements would be no more safe than were the state and local poll taxes of the Jim Crow era. Indeed, some conservatives compare such laws to other contemporary government intrusions.
One of the interesting side effects of Democratic administrations is that they drive conservatives to libertarian arguments. Alas, it seldom works that way when Republicans are in charge.