In the news last week is the ruling by Virginia federal judge Henry Hudson that the individual mandate in the federal health care law is unconstitutional. I understand the arguments about overreach of the "commerce clause" of the US Constitution.
But how is a federal requirement mandating participation in the health insurance market different than the federal mortgage interest deduction? As I understand it, the mandate says that if you don't buy health insurance from a private company, you pay a financial penalty and that's it. This seems similar to the federal tax code regarding home ownership. If you don't buy a house, you pay a tax penalty, right? That is, if you DO buy a home with a mortgage, you get to deduct the interest from your tax bill. If you DON'T buy a home with a mortgage (say, by continuing to rent an apartment) you don't get to deduct the interest from your tax bill. The result is that the goverment is enforcing a financial penalty on those who refuse to buy a mortgage from a private company (or quasi-private company, I guess, in the case of FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans).
I haven't heard this issue addressed over the last week in all the commentary (though I recall it being discussed during the debate and negotiations before the federal law was passed.)
I need my lawyerly readers to explain this to me.