In recent days, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) has tried to simultaneously tear down President Obama’s proposals to reform healthcare, while defending his own legacy of reforming healthcare in Massachusetts. Romney’s health plan includes an expansion of Medicaid using $385 million in annual Federal money, as well as an individual mandate and a sliding scale of subsidies. Today, 98% of Bay State residents have quality, highly regulated coverage. Defending his plan last night, Romney told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that the only way the Massachusetts “system can work” is by having an individual mandate.
Fighting to kill health reform, the right-wing has attacked the individual mandate as unconstitutional. Along with a cadre of Republican Congressmen, Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have said that the individual mandate violates the constitution. Similarly, as a ThinkProgress investigation has found, insurance company lobbyists have orchestrated an effort to use state legislatures to pass resolutions condemning the individual mandate as unconstitutional. An individual mandate is absolutely necessary for health reform to work. Simply put, the right has hoped to kill health reform by undermining the individual mandate.
Today at the Press Club, Romney again tore into Obama’s efforts on health reform. After the speech, ThinkProgress caught up with Romney to ask him about the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Romney refused to answer if the individual mandate, which underpins his own Massachusetts system, is even constitutional:
TP: What do you think about the current effort to declare the individual mandate as unconstitutional?
ROMNEY: You know I’ve got a long discussion that I could give you on that, but I’m in too harp hay of a hurry right now but I think we have that on the site.
TP: Do you think it’s constitutional though, I mean just as a quick answer.
ROMNEY: I think I’ve answered that the best way I can right now which is it’s a big topic and I’m happy to discuss it at length but I just can’t do it in the hall going to the elevator.
TP: Well I mean it is constitutional though, right?
On Romney’s website, there is no mention of the individual mandate. During the 2008 Republican primary, Romney famously crept to the far right, flip flopping on many core issues to appease the right-wing base. With Romney refusing to state if the core foundation of his own health plan is even constitutional, Romney is again pandering to far right conservatives.
Last year, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), a close ally of Romney, said the Senate health reform bill “mirrors” the Massachusetts system Brown and Romney helped enact. And as Igor Volsky details, the current version of reform Congress is preparing to enact still resembles the Massachusetts plan, except that Obama’s reform proposals do far more to control costs. However, Romney is making a political calculation by attacking health reform. With Romney refusing to state if the core foundation of his own health plan is even constitutional, Romney is again pandering to far right conservatives.