Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), like the rest of the Republican Party, opposes the individual health insurance mandate. He believes that the provision violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution and argues that only states have the authority to require their citizens to purchase coverage.
But this wasn’t always the case. In 1993, Grassley proposed an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health care initiative that required every American to purchase health insurance coverage. He also endorsed the mandate in 2007 when he co-sponsored the Wyden-Bennet health care plan and even backed the idea as recently as 2009.
Yesterday, during a campaign debate, Grassley’s Democratic challenger Roxanne Conlin confronted him on his hypocrisy. Grassley explained that his thinking on the mandate changed in April or May of 2009:
Grassley responded: “My name was on a bill in 1993, but there’s a lot about the constitution you learn over the period of the next 15 years and I’m not a lawyer, but I do read the constitution. I do read some of the laws and I came to the conclusion that it’s unconstitutional, just like the attorney generals of about 22 states.” [...]
After the program, Grassley told reporters it was in April or May of last year that he changed his mind about requiring Americans to buy health insurance just like drivers are required to buy insurance on their vehicles. “And then you have people raise the question, ‘Well, where is it in the constitution that you have to buy anything?’” Grassley said.
Grassley must be confusing his dates, because he expressed support for the policy as recently as August 2009. He was asked, “How does this bipartisan group that you’re a member of get to more health insurance coverage if you don’t mandate that employers provide coverage?” Grassley replied, “Through an individual mandate and that’s individual responsibility and even Republicans believe in individual responsibility.” Here he is expressing that very belief in June 2009 on Fox News Sunday:
Now, Grassley’s explanation mirrors the thinking of fellow Republican Orrin Hatch, who after years of supporting the policy also confessed that constitutional study (and apparently Obama’s election) changed his mind.
Cross-posted on the Wonk Room.