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Mitt Romney's New Mandate Problem


RUSH: There is a Republican election coming up. There's a Republican primary going on. You may not know this, but one of the candidates is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Another candidate is Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania. Another candidate is Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House. And there's some old guy. I can't remember his name. There's four of 'em, but those are the three. (interruption) Oh, yeah, that guy's from Texas. The other is from Texas, that's right. Anyway, it's gotten quite vitriolic, this campaign. And I saw something over the weekend, ladies and gentlemen (actually it was Friday after the program was over), that a report came out that Mitt Romney -- who's the author of Romneycare in Massachusetts, the state health care program -- had defended the individual mandate for Obamacare.

The story I saw was that some time ago Romney had encouraged (was it Obama or somebody else?) to actually include a mandate in the national health care program. Governor Romney has said throughout the campaign that he would repeal Obamacare, it's a whole different thing. It's 2200 pages versus Romneycare which is 70 pages. There is a lot more to Obamacare that he would reject, and he would repeal it. That would be the first thing that he would do. This is from June 13th of last year in Manchester, New Hampshire, at Saint Anselm College. It was live on CNN, a Republican candidates debate. And during a segment on Romneycare versus Obamacare, Romney said this:

ROMNEY: Ours was a state plan, a state solution -- and if people don't like it in our state, they can change it. That's the nature of why states are the right place for this type of responsibility.

RUSH: Now, I think I'm right. I don't have the story in front of me but I think... Snerdley, did I read this over the weekend that somebody's found tape of Romney encouraging...? (interruption) But did he encourage Obama? I can't recall specifically, but I think it was Romney encouraging Obama to adopt a mandate in Obamacare. That's what I read. I shouldn't say that 'cause I mistakenly thought I printed it out, and I didn't print it out. But I think this is why Cookie gave me the sound bite, 'cause he was defending the mandate in the state while opposing it nationally. States have the right to do these kinds of things.

There have been some endorsements that have come out for Romney. One of them is Eric Cantor, one of the leaders in the House of Representatives on the Republican side. He was on Morning Joe today on MSNBC. Scarborough said, "This weekend..." Oh, yeah. An op-ed was released that showed Mitt supported a national mandate. I knew I'd seen it. That's right. Here it is. It's a 2009 USA Today op-ed that Romney wrote: "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."

Now, this mandate business, of course, is the reason, ladies and gentlemen, that the Obamacare legislation is now before the Supreme Court, whether or not that mandate is constitutional. It clearly isn't. The federal government cannot require that people buy a product or service. It just can't! Now, the Supreme Court may change that and say, "Well, the way we look at it is, they can." The Obama regime is demanding that people buy health insurance or, if they don't, pay a fine -- and early on the fine is very little. So you would normally (if you're young and you don't have any thoughts of your immediate death or catastrophic illness) forgo buying the insurance that's required, and instead pay the fine.

The fine is much cheaper than an insurance policy. So, as a practical matter, that's what many young people will do. And after so many years go by, the fine becomes much more expensive than the insurance is, which then is designed to force people to buy health insurance. By that time, the private health insurance market will have been destroyed. So the whole point of this mandate with the cheap fines at the outset is to ultimately force all of us onto government-provided insurance that we are required to buy. Now, the Supreme Court's hearing a case and the opponents of Obamacare say that mandate's unconstitutional. The regime is saying: Wait, these are not fines; they're taxes. And as such, we have the power to levy taxes.

And that's the brief, CliffNotes version of what's going on. Here's more from the Romney op-ed: "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," i.e. fines "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." So he's encouraging the mandate, essentially. The "free rider" are the people I just described. They're young, they don't have any thoughts of their imminent death or catastrophic illness, so they forgo the insurance.

And then when they do get sick and can't afford it, they go to the insurance company or emergency room or wherever and by law they're covered. Therefore they haven't paid for it and there's outrage. So how do we take care of this? Well, the solution was the mandate: Just make everybody buy insurance. And originally, folks, even conservatives glommed onto that. And they did it for a very obvious, up-front reason: Conservatism is about self-reliance. Conservatism is about personal responsibility. So if there is a mandate, "You take care of it yourself, instead of bleeding off everybody else," then people say, "Okay, we'll go for it."

It was only after the full scope of Obamacare was known that the reality set in: "Wait a minute, this is unconstitutional. The government can't do this," and that's where we are. So a lot of people (Newt, the Heritage Foundation, a number of people), when the mandate was first proposed, liked it because it forced the free riders to get in the system. It forced personal responsibility and accountability. But then when they saw how sweeping the rest of Obamacare was and the need to stop it, they said, "Okay, wait a minute. That mandate is unconstitutional." That's where we are. All these people that initially supported the mandate, you could give 'em the benefit of the doubt if they were instinctively supporting it because it sounded good in a conservative context.

Self-reliance. Self-responsibility. Self-accountability.

So now that Romney has written this op-ed that has been discovered (USA Today, 2009), the Romney campaign is saying (paraphrased): "By the way, we didn't mean it the way everybody's interpreting it. We didn't mean that Obama and the Feds ought to put our mandate in there. We were just talking about ways to deal with the free riders," and free riders irritate a lot of people. So that's the latest controversy involving Romney. Now, back to Scarborough and his program today.
He had Eric Cantor of the House Republican leadership, and Scarborough said, "This weekend an op-ed released showed Romney supported a national mandate. How will the Republican base...? How are we gonna get our arms around Mitt Romney now?"

CANTOR: As far as the issue of Obamacare... And Mitt Romney's been very clear. He said he will sign a repeal of Obamacare. He is not for, uhh, it taking effect, uhh, in this country. And, you know, Joe, I carried the bill in the House to repeal Obamacare. So I look forward to, uh, serving, uh, in the role along with Mitt Romney to make sure that we in Congress join him once he's elected president to repeal Obamacare. We got to.

RUSH: So Mika Brzezinski, the cohostette, says, "Well, look, it's clear that Romney's flipped on the issue, and it's maybe perhaps hard for some to understand exactly where he stands on this issue and some others, Eric. Fair enough?"

CANTOR: Well, I mean, listen, if, uhhh, the process that he has gone through and he has arrived at the conclusion, uhh, that, uhhh, what he felt was appropriate in Massachusetts is not now appropriate, uhh, for the federal level, uhhh, I take him at his word on that. And I will continue to work hard to do everything we can, uh, to repeal Obamacare, knowing full-well the consequences, uh, if that bill really does go into effect.

RUSH: Yesterday morning on Meet the Press, David Gregory (when he was able to get people to talk about something other than me) asked Eric Cantor: "You've not chosen sides here in this Republican nomination. Are you prepared to say who you're with this morning?"

CANTOR: The country's gotta make a choice: Who's gonna best be able to lead this economy back to a growth mode; create jobs so people can feel better about the future. And I just think there's one candidate in the race who can do that, and that's Mitt Romney. You know, Mitt Romney is -- is the only candidate in the race who's put forward a bold, pro-growth, pro-jobs plan for the future.

RUSH: So Eric Cantor has endorsed Romney and his pledge to repeal Obamacare and so forth. So that's on the record.



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