Here’s an interesting argument for the individual mandate:
There’s no reason to put off the campaign for a mandatory private system until we’ve worked out all the details. To keep the great American health innovation machine running, it is vital to keep medicine private and consumer-driven, and that means going on the offensive now.
Maintaining our private medical system is vital because American health care and medical science are the most advanced and innovative in the world. If a national single-payer health care system is adopted, most medical progress will be stopped in its tracks. The proposal for mandatory health insurance offers a way to maintain our private system, expand consumer choice, lower costs, and allow medical progress to continue.
Who wrote it?
Mandatory health insurance would be not unlike the laws that require drivers to purchase auto insurance or pay into state-run risk pools. They also resemble the libertarian Cato Institute’s proposals for reforming Social Security, which do not eliminate mandatory payments; they privatize them. Similarly, school voucher plans generally mandate that children receive an education. As the Rose and Milton Friedman Foundation notes, universal school vouchers would allow “all parents to direct funds set aside for education by the government to send their children to a school of choice, whether that school is public, private or religious.” This system separates “the government financing of education from the government operation of schools.”
This is a wonderful example of what an ideological group might be saying if the social context was different. It’s rare that you can do other than imagine an alternative political reaction; this is one instance where the counterfactual world is actually laid out for you to see (and the purely rhetorical nature, and social underpinnings, of ideological “analysis” therefore laid bare).
Jonathan Chait does a fairly good job explaining how it is that libertarianism is equally capable of endorsing and rejecting Obamacare: “health care policy is complicated. And the role of the market and government policy are so difficult to separate, meaning the same policy can easily be framed either as more socialism or as more free market.” Framing, as I have explained before, is what movement theoreticians do:
[O]ne of the few ways in which political advocacy groups can actually change things is by repeating, ad nauseam, the thankless task of trying to portray as many episodes as they can get away with as dangerous examples of activity that is already generally thought of as problematic. Involving as it often does lying, this approach is not quite as noble as forthrightly trying to persuade others of the normative desirability of a preferred vision for society – i.e. as trying to change what situation-types are typically thought problematic … Advocacy occurs within a pre-existing ideological structure, which it can manipulate but not change.
In short, it’s a nice example of politics that isn’t based in principle. (: