This news isn’t exactly new. Gingrich publicly supported the individual mandate as late as 2009.
To conservatives, the biggest strike against Mitt Romney is the health care plan he put in place in Massachusetts, but Newt Gingrich lavished praise on Romney’s plan after it was passed in 2006.
“We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans,” Gingrich wrote in 2006.
And, Gingrich wrote, the key to achieving that goal was doing what Romney did in Massachusetts: Requiring everybody who could afford it to buy health insurance. In fact, Gingrich makes an impassioned case for the so-called individual mandate — which is also at the center of President Obama’s health plan — on conservative grounds.
“We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System,” Gingrich wrote in the memo which was found on an old Gingrich website by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski. ”Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers.”
That’s pretty much the definition of taking a big government approach to solving a problem that the left has pushed, for the purpose of expanding the power of government. It’s similar to how both Gingrich and Romney fell for global warming when it was the left’s crisis du jour. If Gingrich or Romney become the nominee, it will be that much harder to run strong against ObamaCare. The Supreme Court may bail them out, but as things stand now, the media will do its best to make them look like political opportunists for opposing something now that they supported not very long ago.
Here’s the actual memo, written for Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation group. It’s an entertaining read.
The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts. The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system.
The Romney plan attempts to bring everyone into the system. The individual mandate requires those who earn enough to afford insurance to purchase coverage, and subsidies will be made available to those individuals who cannot afford insurance on their own. We agree strongly with this principle, but the details are crucial when it comes to the structure of this plan.
And so forth. It nods at over-regulation, while praising more regulation in the form of the individual mandate.
And for whatever it’s worth, the Romney plan has failed. Health care costs have risen since it was enacted, and universal coverage has not been achieved.
But let’s apply the patented Ron Paul Defense TM to this. It doesn’t matter because, well, it just doesn’t. The 2006 memo has Gingrich’s name on it, but that doesn’t mean he actually believes or agrees with it.
Update: I was being sarcastic about applying the patented Ron Paul Defense TM. But the Gingrich campaign did it anyway.
R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for Mr. Gingrich, said the April 2006 essay shouldn’t be read as an endorsement of Mr. Romney’s health plan. He noted that it raised several questions about the Massachusetts effort, including whether the plan would work in the state. “Being critical…isn’t endorsing it,” he said.
Mr. Hammond said the Newt Notes essay wasn’t written by Mr. Gingrich himself. The Journal was able to view a copy using a web search engine that archives old and even deleted versions of Web pages.
Gingrich and Romney have big government in common, and Gingrich and Paul have something else in common: They think we’re stupid.
Update: And here’s video of Gingrich supporting the individual mandate in 2008. Will the campaign continue to defend him from the 2006 statement by saying he didn’t write it?