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Why so little stands between consumers and a mandate

November 21, 2009 - Mike Maneval

An article on Reason's Web site by Shikha Dalmia verifies some of the complaints I've lodged about the consumer mandate during the past year and a half, and also explains the failure of the Republican caucuses to more effectively counter it.

Dalmia cites the Congressional Budget Office's acknowledgement that consumer mandates are an expression of an authority the federal government has never had: The authority to compel citizens to purchase a good or service.

One might assume a philosophy of limited government would maintain no such authority exists. And in many cases that would be a correct assumption. But the Republican Party, and the intellectual movement behind it, has a more complicated relationship with the mandate. As Dalmia observes, The Heritage Foundation and Governor Mitt Romney - the preference of many so-called economic conservatives in the last Republican presidential primary - developed a state mandate on consumers to purchase health insurance.

Dalmia attributes the relunctance of Republicans in congress to focus their opposition on the mandate on a long-held belief that the uninsured "freeload" by draining health care resources through ER care. Yet, Dalmia finds, care for the uninsured accounts for 3 percent of total health care spending, in her words, "less than what department stores lose to shoplifting every year."  


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