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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?