Newt Gingrich releases his new 21st Century Contract with America today in Iowa. His website describes the proposal as “larger and more complex…than any presidential campaign has undertaken in modern times” but “the minimum necessary to mobilize the American people, change the entrenched elites and their system, and get America back on the right track.” The document is meant to recall the former speaker’s 1994 Contract with America, but a closer reading of the new proposals suggests that the Gingrich of today may not necessarily agree with the Gingrich of yesteryear.
For instance, the first proposal promises to “Repeal Obamacare and pass a replacement that saves lives and money by empowering patients and doctors, not bureaucrats and politicians.” The contract goes after the law’s requirement to purchase health insurance coverage beginning in 2014, calling it “unconstitutional.” It also criticizes the law’s efforts to help lower-income Americans access affordable coverage. “[O]nce the government mandates such expensive insurance, the government becomes responsible for its costs. It has to adopt expensive subsidies to help people pay for the expensive plans that it is requiring,” it reads.
Instead, Gingrich offers to replace the law with a consumer-driven solution:
This system will assure healthcare for all with no individual mandate or employer mandate of any kind. This alternative to Obamacare begins with patient power and localism and the many common sense ideas developed over the past eight years at the Center for Health Transformation.
Over the next year, I look forward to discussing solutions for a pro-market replacement for Obamacare that puts top priority on empowering patients, focusing on the doctor patient relationship, using the best new science to save lives and save money.
But as Mitt Romney recalled yesterday during a radio interview with Sean Hannity, Gingrich has previously supported the very mandate his contract wants to repeal.
Gingrich advocated for coverage mandates in the mid-2000s, when he partnered with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) “to promote a centrist solution to fixing the nation’s health care system” and wrote in his 2005 book, Winning The Future, that “a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system.” He even endorsed Medicaid expansion and subsidizing coverage for lower income Americans. “People whose income is too low should receive Medicaid vouchers and tax credits to buy insurance,” he continued. “Large risk pools (association health plans are one model) should be established so low-income people can buy insurance as inexpensively as large corporations. ”