Ezra Klein over at Wonkblog recently posted this:
Of course, this battle isn’t really about the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Members of the Republican Party didn’t express concerns that the individual mandate might be an unconstitutional assault on liberty when they devised the idea in the late 1980s, or when they wielded it against the Clinton White House in the 1990s, or when it was passed into law in Massachusetts in the mid-2000s. Indeed, Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), arguably the most conservative Republican in the Senate, touted Romney’s reforms as a model for the nation. Only after the mandate became the centerpiece of the Democrats’ health-care bill did its constitutionality suddenly become an issue.
This is something I keep coming back to. The concept of the individual mandate was supported for over a decade by many of its current opponents. The constitutionality of the idea has not changed, but the politics have. That makes it very hard for me to believe that the reason for their change in views is legal rather than political. Similarly, the question of constitutionality was never seriously raised before this bill, despite the significant amount of discussion over the idea. Again, the change is not in the idea or the constitution, but the politics.