Why all the sound and fury about the individual mandate?

The objections to the individual mandate are loud, frequent, and hyperbolic. What they are not is credible.
Much of the criticism of the mandate appears to be coming from people and organizations that previously supported a mandate. That’s why it is so difficult to take them seriously.
Here are a couple examples.
Mitt Romney, who could teach a kite a thing or two about moving with the political winds, signed a bill into law saying it was “a personal responsibility principle”; a bill that was pretty similar to the one he now describes as “an unconscionable abuse of power.”. (and yes, Romney did endorse a Federal mandate)
Romney also said “Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.”
– Sen Orrin Hatch (R UT) cosponsored a bill that required a universal mandate back in 1993. Today, he says:””If they mandate you have to buy insurance, it’ll be the first time in this country that the government can tell you what to buy,” said Hatch, warning the measure could portend even more government control in the future.”
– Newt Gingrich, who backed a mandate back in 2008, and…doesn‘t now.
Many of the loudest objectors were strong supporters of the mandate in the past, including the worthies at the Heritage Foundation. Here’s what they said then (text spacing issues from original):
The second central element-in the Heritage proposal is a two-way commit ment between government and citizen. Under this social contract, the fed eral government would agree to make it financially possible, through refund able tax benefits or in some cases by providing access to public-sector health programs, for every American family to purchase at least a basic package of medic a l care, including catastrophic insurance. In return, government would require, by law every head of household to acquire at least a basic health plan for his or her family.Thus there would be mandated coverage under the Heritage proposal [emphasis added], but the mandate w ould apply to the family head, who is the appropriate person to shoulder the primary responsibility for the familys health needs, rather than employers, who are not.
And here’s what they say now:
This “personal responsibility” provision of the legislation, more accurately known as the “individual mandate” because it commands all individuals to enter into a contractual relationship with a private insurance company, takes congressional power and control to a striking new level. Its defenders have struggled to justify the mandate by analogizing it to existing federal laws and court decisions, but their efforts do not withstand serious scrutiny. An individual mandate to enter into a contract with or buy a particular product from a private party, with tax penalties to enforce it, is unprecedented– not just in scope but in kind–and unconstitutional as a matter of first principles [emphasis added] and under any reasonable reading of judicial precedents.
Which leads to the question – why have Romney, Gingrich, Hatch, and Heritage (amongn others) changed their view? Could it be due to a re-reading of the Constitution? New evidence that the original authors didn’t want universal health care?
Or could it be that no one to the right of center wants to say anything neutral, much less positive, about anything the President and his fellow Democrats advocate?
Why is this? The reform plan, which has more than its share of warts, doesn’t include a public option, has a relatively weak mandate mechanism, relies on private insurers to provide coverage, and doesn’t do anything to manage price or utilization.
One would think all conservatives wouldn’t find that so universally objectionable.
This doesn’t make sense at any level; their flipflopping is patently obvious and readily identified, and all the Dems have to do is advance increasingly centrist ideas and watch while the GOP partisans howl in outrage, backing themselves into a really small corner.
If they don’t wise up, they’ll find themselves a very, very small party.
There’s a lot left to do to truly ‘reform’ health care. Without the contributions of legislators from all parts of the political spectrum we will end up with a system designed by one party. Some will never ‘buy in’ to that system, no matter how moderate and effective the reforms may be.