MSNBC’s Chris Matthews interviewed Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox Tuesday night where Cox asserted it was unprecedented in the history of the federal government’s regulation of interstate commerce that U.S. citizens be forced to buy a product, in this case insurance coverage, a reference to the individual mandate in the health-care law signed earlier in the day by President Barack Obama.
Matthews attempted to dispute Cox by invoking segregation and the 1964 civil rights legislation and said Congress had previously regulated interstate commerce in a comparable way by forcing hotel owners to sell rooms to blacks. An incredulous Cox noted that Matthews’ example was a non-sequitur and that it was comparing “apples and oranges” since a black customer was not being forced to buy a room from any establishment by federal legislation.
Matthews tried to salvage his argument claiming that the civil rights legislation showed that the federal government had much sway in shaping interstate commerce, at which point Cox, again, patiently explained the difference between refusing service to minorities and forcing individuals to spend their personal savings on a service or product.
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