Obamacare and GM in Court

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Dahlia Lithwick reports in Slate, “[Acting SG Neal] Katyal then dismisses the argument that a government that can force you to purchase health insurance can also force you to buy from General Motors: ‘You can’t show up at a General Motors lot and drive away and stick the bill to your neighbor,’ he says.” But the costs of theft can be passed along to paying customers in a lot of markets. And the fact that some of the costs of emergency care are passed along to others without any theft taking place is a consequence of federal regulation. So Katyal is saying, isn’t he, that a mandate to buy a car would be permissible so long as the federal government had previously enacted a regulatory scheme that made this car mandate useful? (E.g., a law saying that it was just fine to show up at the lot and drive away without paying if you really need to have a ride.)