As Mitt Romney continues to try to square the circle of how a conservative could support a government command to purchase health insurance, he and his spokesman keep running into a basic conflict in their own thinking: If states can order individuals to buy a product, what happens to individual liberty?
At the start of his speech, Romney said “the people in America are sovereign” and have the “freedom to choose our life’s course.” So how can states mandate behavior, as Romneycare does? In an interview on Thursday, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom provided some clarity.
“Each state should be free, as Massachusetts was, to pursue their own solutions,” he said. “Each state should have that liberty and that freedom to come up with their own solutions. That should be part of the liberties that we permit the states to enjoy.”
What about the liberty of the people? “That’s fine until the point where we get to the point where people don’t purchase insurance when they can afford to, and they go to the hospital when they get sick and the rest of us have to pay for it,” Fehrnstrom said.
The individual mandate ends up forcing a lot of people who don’t really need insurance to buy it, mostly the young and upwardly employed, subsidizing others who get around the mandate via fines, or not being in the US legally, etc.
Aside from its assault on individual liberty, if one is to judge RomneyCare purely on a “did it work” basis, the inevitable conclusion is that it didn’t.