Mitt Romney

Non-Shocker of the Day: Mitt Romney Touted the Individual Mandate as an Example for the Nation as Recently as 2009

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You may recall from the 20 GOP presidential debates this season that front-runner Mitt Romney is fond of talking about his signature Romneycare initiative in Massachusetts with formulations such as this:

I've made it very clear [….] this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.

You may also recall, through our coverage here at Reason, that this claim is a provable lie. The latest evidence for which is this July 2009 Romney op-ed in USA Today that's been making the rounds. Headline (emphasis mine): "Mr. President, what's the rush? Obama could learn a thing or two about health care reform from Massachusetts. One, time is not the enemy. Two, neither are the Republicans."

Is Mitt Romney the Jim Plunkett of politics? THINK ABOUT IT.

Relevant section, with my bolding:

For health care reform to succeed in Washington, the president must finally do what he promised during the campaign: Work with Republicans as well as Democrats.

Massachusetts also proved that you don't need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no "public option." With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn't necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals' dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.

Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn't have to break the bank. 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. This doesn't cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one -- something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.

Read it again!

The unearthed op-ed is being greeted as some kind of revelation, but it really isn't; all you have to do is read the GOP presidential debate transcripts from 2007-08 and you'll see plenty of examples of the candidate touting Romneycare as a template for the federal government. Here's how Peter Suderman wrote about it in his recent must-read cover profile of the man, "Consultant in Chief":

During his first presidential primary campaign, Romney enthusiastically touted the plan's national possibilities. "We have to have our citizens insured, and we're not going to do that by tax exemptions, because the people that don't have insurance aren't paying taxes," he said at an Iowa debate in August 2007. "What you have to do is what we did in Massachusetts. Is it perfect? No. But we say, let's rely on personal responsibility, help people buy their own private insurance, get our citizens insured, not with a government takeover, not with new taxes needed, but instead with a free-market-based system that gets all of our citizens in the system. No more free rides. It works."

In October of that year, Romney told the Republican Jewish Coalition: "I think we'll be successful nationwide. My plan, by the way, allows every citizen in America to get health insurance." Asked by CNN's John King at the time whether RomneyCare was a good model for the nation, he responded with a big grin, "Well, I think so."

These days, he thinks not. In an October 2011 debate on CNN, Romney insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that "in the last campaign I was asked, 'Is this something you would have the whole nation do?' And I said no."

The Republican Party is about to nominate one liar to compete with another. Hooray for politics!