Romney Backed Health Care Mandate in 1994

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 11 2011 12:18 PM

Romney Backed Health Care Mandate in 1994

The day before his big health care speech, Blue Mass Group explodes a depth charge right under Mitt Romney. They point to "Stormin' Mormon," the pre-1994 election profile of Romney by John Judis. That year, running uphill against Ted Kennedy, Romney said he'd support the health care compromise introduced by Sen. John Chafee. That compromise included a mandate to buy health insurance, something Democrats never tired of pointing out in 2009 and 2010 when the Affordable Care Act's compromise was characterized as tyranny or socialism.

I grabbed the original article. The key quote appears in this context.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Advertisement

The question about Romney is where he would stand in Congress's internecine battles. Would he side with Republicans such as John Chafee who have tried to develop constructive alternatives to Democratic legislation or with Republicans such as Phil Gramm and Newt Gingrich who have been willing to paralyze Congress for the sake of embarrassing the Clinton administration? Romney has indicated that he would side with the moderate wing. He endorsed the crime bill and refused to back Gingrich's jejune "Contract with America." He told me he would have backed Chafee's health care bill. "I'm willing to vote for things that I am not wild with," he said.

The 1994 campaign previously gave us those quotes from Romney on abortion, the Reagan legacy, and other conservative sticking points. This is the first I've seen of the long-forgotten Chafee bill stance; really, that legislation ceased to matter the minute the votes were counted in 1994. It just happened to include the sort of mandate that Republicans and a few judges now call unconstitutional.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent points to examples of Romney defending the mandate in 2007 and 2008. In neither case does he say, as he did in 1994, that Congress should pass a bill that forces Americans to buy health care coverage. But in the first case he clearly implies that the Massachusetts model works, and that eventually the rest of the country will want to copy it.

UPDATE II: Team Romney responds with a statement from Andrea Saul:

Governor Romney has made it very clear over the last many years, including during the 2008 presidential cycle, that he opposes a federally imposed individual mandate.

For what it's worth, I've seen the text of the original interview, and Romney is not really ambiguous about his support for the Chafee plan.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 5:47 PM Tale of Two Fergusons We knew blacks and whites saw Michael Brown’s killing differently. A new poll shows the gulf that divides them is greater than anyone guessed.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 5:07 PM One Comedy Group Has the Perfect Idea for Ken Burns’ Next Project
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.