The most controversial part of Obamacare, Obama’s centerpiece legislation, is the individual mandate. Should it come into effect, the individual mandate will require every U.S. citizen to purchase health insurance. Failure to do so will result in a fine. An unprecedented intrusion on personal autonomy by the federal government, the mandate has been the focal point of several legal challenges. In the face of these challenges, the Obama administration has been unwavering in arguing both that the mandate is constitutional and that it is an essential part of health care reform. With the Supreme Court set to rule on the provision's constitutionality this summer, it will undoubtedly prove a key issue in the run up to the election.
What many people are likely to have forgotten in 2012 is that the individual mandate was also a contentious issue in 2008. During the 2008 election, however, Barack Obama was not the candidate advocating for an individual mandate. He was its most vocal detractor. Indeed, Obama’s opposition to the individual mandate distinguished his health care plan from Hillary Clinton’s and likely helped him to secure the Democratic nomination. Here is Obama, in 2008, explaining why health care reform should be focused on reducing costs. Not mandates.