Back in 2005, Newt Gingrich wrote a book titled Winning the Future, which more recently has been transformed into an Obama administration catchphrase. The WTF title wasn't the only thing that President Obama decided to lift from the thriller-loving ideas man: As Sam Stein noted last week, the book included explicit support for a health care overhaul that "requires everyone to participate in the insurance system"—what we now know as an individual mandate.
Does he still support the mandate? Unlike Mitt Romney, Gingrich's support of the mandate isn't tied to a major legislative achievement, so it would theoretically be easier for him to back down. But on Meet the Press yesterday, Gingrich said he was still down with requiring everyone to buy insurance. He said he still supports a "variation" on the individual mandate.
"I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care," he said. "We ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or post a bond." Might that anger a political base that is deeply opposed to both ObamaCare and the individual mandate? Not at all, says Newt: "There are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy."
Uh-huh. That's nice. But somehow, I am skeptical that Newt Gingrich qualifies as any kind of expert on what will make libertarians happy when it comes to health policy. So I asked someone who is: Michael Cannon, the Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, the nation's largest libertarian think tank. Here's Cannon's response:
"Are you sure he said libertarians? Because it seems like he meant leftists. Regardless, I invite Newt to come to the Cato Institute so he can explain to people who actually care about freedom just how happy he's going to make us."
Maybe what he meant was that, er, well, actually he doesn't support the mandate? Here's what Gingrich said in a video released earlier today:
"I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals…I fought it for two and half years at the Center for Health Transformation. You can see all the things we did to stop it at HealthTransformation.net. I am for the repeal of Obamacare and I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional."
Federal mandates? Terrible! State mandates? Um…