Individual Mandate an Albetross Around Mitt Romney’s Neck
The Boston Globe the have an interesting piece about how Massachusetts’ health care reform law came into being and the role Mitt Romney played in assure it’s passage. It is well worth a read. The article shows what a prominent role Romney played personally in making sure a individual mandate was part of the final legislation and why it would be impossible for him now to fully renounce the one in the Massachusetts’ law he signed. From the Boston Globe:
Romney’s grasp of the subject was “unbelievably impressive,’’ he said, and the governor warmed to the game-changing potential of the individual mandate. Romney’s political advisers, however, “were not that keen on it,’’ [Jonathan] Gruber said.
To them, the political hazards spoke louder than the policy-making opportunity.
The key players in the Massachusetts debate know what a critical champion Romney was of the individual mandate; so a total flip flop on the issue would be too deeply cynical as to be politically unfeasible
The article again made it clear how many of the most important components of the Massachusetts law, which also eventually made it into the Affordable Care Act, were only a few years ago seen as deep conservative policies advanced by right wing think tanks.
For example private health exchange were considered a big win for conservative policy:
There were other new elements. Murphy had a “eureka moment’’ after a meeting with officials of the conservative Heritage Foundation. He was raving about their concept of an “exchange’’ to provide one-stop shopping for small businesses and individuals seeking health coverage from commercial insurers. This would also prove a forerunner to Obama’s national plan.
Similarly liberals willingness to accept the individual mandate was considered a major compromise by liberals to Republicans.
“I’ve never been one for individual mandates in the past, but I do think that the way this has been proposed, in that everybody will do their part, that’s a compromise,’’ [Senator Ted] Kennedy said. “I can buy into that.’’
It is ironic to think only five year later it would be the Republican party that would rally against the individual mandate and a Democratic President who would steadfastly demand this conservative provision remain part of the health care reform law.
It is a truly impressive example of being able to shift the whole debate rightward that conservatives managed to not only to get the Democratic party to embrace their unpopular policy without Republican cover, but to do so in a way that allowed Republicans to reap huge political gains from Democrats taking up their old ideas.