The individual mandate is a fundamental element in the flawed architecture of this HCR bill, and the best thing about it is its not going into effect for another four years. I think there's a good chance that by the time 2014 rolls around it won't be part of the new HCR system. Already people are talking about court challenges to it, and I'd be surprised if it survives.
I don't care what the wonks say about it, the idea of the government forcing Americans to buy health insurance from hated, profit-driven companies is bad politics, and it's tossing a lazy softball to the political right to hit out of the park, and I, for one, will not come to the administration's defense.
This comment at Ezra Klein's blog this morning reflects my thinking about it all along: