Andrew Kaczynski digs up a remarkable July 2009 op-ed from Mitt Romney in which Romney not only brags about the effectiveness of the individual mandate in Massachusetts, but urges President Obama to support it at the federal level:
Because of President Obama’s frantic approach, health care has run off the rails. For the sake of 47 million uninsured Americans, we need to get it back on track.
Health care cannot be handled the same way as the stimulus and cap-and-trade bills. With those, the president stuck to the old style of lawmaking: He threw in every special favor imaginable, ground it up and crammed it through a partisan Democratic Congress. Health care is simply too important to the economy, to employment and to America’s families to be larded up and rushed through on an artificial deadline. There’s a better way. And the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington find it.
And what were those lessons?
First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders” to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.
That, my friends, is the individual mandate. And Mitt was proud of it:
The Massachusetts reform aimed at getting virtually all our citizens insured. In that, it worked: 98% of our citizens are insured, 440,000 previously uninsured are covered and almost half of those purchased insurance on their own, with no subsidy.
And if President Obama had been willing to move forward without the public option (which he was), then Mitt Romney said he was ready to move forward with a national plan:
Republicans will join with the Democrats if the president abandons his government insurance plan, if he endeavors to craft a plan that does not burden the nation with greater debt, if he broadens his scope to reduce health costs for all Americans, and if he is willing to devote the rigorous effort, requisite time and bipartisan process that health care reform deserves.
And, as Mitt Romney made clear at the top of his op-ed, the plan he supported was one built around what he said worked in Massachusetts—including the individual mandate.
Yet despite his clear embrace of the individual mandate as part of federal health care reform, Mitt Romney has faced such a weak set of rival candidates that not a single one of them has brought this up in the twenty Republican debates.
But as fortunate as Mitt Romney has been to face such a staggeringly incompetent Republican field, he won’t be so lucky next fall. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the very first time he tries to attack President Obama over health care reform in the debates, he’s going to get this thrown right back in his face. And he’ s not going to like how it turns out.