June 27th, 2012
05:38 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney once touted mandate he now deems unconstitutional

Sterling, Virginia (CNN) – The conventional wisdom in Washington is that the Supreme Court will hand President Barack Obama some kind of defeat to his health care law that could damage his re-election chances. But what's the political prognosis for Mitt Romney?

"My guess is that they are not sleeping very well at the White House tonight," Romney quipped at an event one day before the Supreme Court's expected ruling.

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The presumptive GOP nominee said if the Supreme Court opts against bringing down the law, he would do so as president.

"If I'm elected president we're going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with real reform," Romney said, though he avoided naming specific measures he would take as president to reform health care.

The president is warning voters to take Romney at his word.

"He wants to roll back the reforms that we put in place that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people who are sick. I believe it's the right thing to do," Mr. Obama said in a speech to supporters in Miami Tuesday.

Romney went further in his criticism of the law at a fundraiser in Atlanta earlier this month. At the event, the former Massachusetts governor argued the health care law deserves to be struck down.

"Gosh I hope they do the right thing and turn this thing down," Romney told a fundraiser in Atlanta earlier this month, according to pool reports. "And say it's unconstitutional because it is."

At the heart of the conservative complaints about the president's law is its individual mandate, which forces all Americans to buy health insurance, if they can afford it, or pay a fine.

As most voters now know, the president fashioned much of his law by borrowing heavily from the reform plan signed into law by Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts six years ago. The centerpiece of the Massachusetts plan is its own mandate.

In an interview with CNN in 2009, Romney touted the mandate as a free market alternative to the president's original plan that offered Americans the option to buy into a government insurance plan. That so-called "public option" was later dropped from the law.

"I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans," Romney told CNN in 2009. "The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from."

Romney explained his mandate, or "incentive" as he preferred to call it in the interview, was designed to achieve universal coverage.

"No more free riders. Everybody is part of the plan. And that way, we get the costs down. We let people know that they never have to worry about losing their coverage," Romney said in the interview.

Romney has since said on numerous occasions his plan was meant for Massachusetts only.

"Our plan was a state solution to a state problem, and his plan is a power grab by the federal government to put a one-size-fits-all plan across the nation," Romney said in a speech in the weeks before he jumped into the race last year.

This time around, he spent much of the primaries fighting off attacks from Rick Santorum and other rivals who complained Romney indeed supported a national mandate.

In March, Santorum stood on the steps of the Supreme Court to blast Romney as the "worst candidate" to take on the president on health care.

"There is one candidate who is uniquely disqualified. That's why I'm here and he's not," Santorum said.

The Democratic National Committee ran a web video in March featuring Romney's apparent defense of a national mandate that he made in a debate during his 2008 run for the presidency.

"No, no I like mandates," Romney said during the debate.

If the president's law is struck down, Romney has promised to bring back some of its protections for consumers.

"Fixing our health care system means making sure that every American, regardless of their health care needs, can find quality, affordable coverage," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

"That is why Governor Romney supports reforms to protect those with pre-existing conditions from being denied access to a health plan while they have continuous coverage," she added.

What's unknown is how a partial ruling against the president would affect both campaigns. A decision to uphold most of the law but strike down only the individual mandate could have unforeseen consequences.

The insurance industry has warned members of Congress of just that scenario.

"It is important to keep in mind that severing the individual mandate from market reforms in the (Affordable Care Act) could have a negative impact on individuals and families," the industry's lobby warns on its web site.

Also see:

McCaskill to skip Democratic convention

Poll: Obama, Romney race still tight

Obama: 'I hope you still believe in me'

Giuliani gives Turner a primary day boost


Filed under: 2012 • Health care • Mitt Romney
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. mommytwice

    Mitt flips, Mitt flops. Health care reform is great when he does it, but bad when Obama does it. I don't understandwhy anyone would vote for this crazy person.

    June 27, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    Romney flip/flops once again so this is no longer news, sorry folks.

    June 27, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Anthony

    As late as 2009, Romney said that his Massachusetts plan could serve as a model for the nation. It was probably a bad idea for Obama to copy a Republican idea. I mean, seriously, when is the last time Republicans have good ideas? Republicans came up with cap-and-trade too. Obama should have known that Romney and Republicans would immediately disown their own idea and ask the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. Then again, Obama might have done this on purpose. He is secretly laughing at Republicans because he manipulated them into declaring their own idea unconstitutional.

    June 27, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Not Surprised

    Willard flip-flopping AGAIN.
    Willard can't run from Romneycare, it's strapped to him like poor Seamus was to the roof of the car.

    June 27, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    Let Amnesia Romney watch this video this time he won’t I stand by what I said whatever I said

    June 27, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. farcier93

    Mitt has maintained his position that federal govt should never be involved in providing health insurance. No government option-its a big difference than Obamacare. Another difference- its a state solution.

    June 27, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. chuck weidemann

    Romney has become synonymous with clueless....not an original idea or thought left in his head....he only knows he wants to be president....but couldn't tell you why!!!! He just points at Obama and says he's got my job it's for me .....

    June 27, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Wake up people

    This is NOTHING new. Has he EVER taken a stand and then stood by what he said originally? I doubt it, very seriously.

    OBAMA 2012!

    June 27, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. Jules

    I hope we are going to get to see numerous minutes of The Best of Mitt's Flip Flops – well, make that hours. I'll tune in.

    June 27, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. Jules

    Being for it before you were against it used to be a real no-no with the GOP, but I guess they have flip flopped, too.

    June 27, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. Marty

    Obama also flip flops. Dont kid yourself.

    June 27, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. lies from the right but mostly hate

    How did a person of this moral caliber get this far in the gop?

    June 27, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I thought the Republicans had already "vetted" Romney, haven't they learned anything after Palin. Republicans took their arguments away about anything when they supported Palin. So don't blame Obama, blame Romney.

    June 27, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. Donkey Party

    No moral compass, no ideas, no core, no substance, no integrity, no honesty, NO WILLARD ROMNEY!!

    June 27, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. MaryM

    mitt the flip. Mass Romney has a mandate

    June 27, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. MaryM

    correction Romneycare has a mandate

    June 27, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. Four and The Door

    ObamaCare was crafted purely for political expediency at the sacrifice of quality of care, cost of care and as it seems, constitutional compliance. This is why the cost has already doubled and the Supreme Court is ready to tear it down. We can do better. But this is an area of governance for the states, not the federal level. States can put together much more effective, cost competitive plans.

    June 27, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  18. CanadianJohn

    It's all about state rights. The Feds should stay out of it. The constitution is pretty clear on this matter.

    June 27, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  19. Indy

    Gosh, I wonder how well Romney sleeps knowing the only thing has done for seven years is stalk the President and tell big fat lies to try and prop himself up. Gosh, he sure does like to lie and has made a career out of it and when he is still unemployed after Obama is re elected he can add professional stalker to his resume.

    June 27, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. Sandman

    Romney? Flip flopping? Seriously? Get out!!! Not Mitt? Nah!!! Well whaddaya think about that? Don't that just beat all?

    June 27, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Romney will say anything he's told to say.

    June 27, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  22. Jim

    Huge difference between "RomneyCare" and "ObamaCare". RomneyCare was a STATE implementation that while forcing the purchase of insurance, pay a fine, or get on a plan through a state managed pool does not have panels determining appropriate coverage based on age like ObamaCare does. Obama's plan, which required the outright bribery of states to get their Congressman and Senators to vote for it and the exemption of Union Cadillac plans, is modeled after the European plans which are slowly bankrupting that continent. The Constitution that the States retain all those rights not specificaly enumerated and granted to the Federal Government

    June 27, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  23. Roy

    Before Obama we had TAXPAYER FUNDED HEALTHCARE. Freeloaders could go to the emergency room and get care for free.

    Obamacare has a MANDATE so that freeloaders must buy insurance. This REDUCES what taxpayers must pay.

    That is why repealing Obamacare will make the Deficit bigger.

    June 27, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  24. Logic N LA

    If it is shot down, Obama will win handily. Republican better not underestimate the left if we need to rid the court of these close-minded morons appointed by Bush. A defeat may be just the rallying cry needed for this year.

    June 27, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  25. Bob

    I love how the GOP shout "Obamacare" like it is some Boogeyman but if you ever ask them what exactly in Obamacare they object to they can't name a single thing. Individual Mandate? That was proposed by Newt Gingrich as the SAVIOR of Health Care Reform. It was the centerpiece of Romenycare and they very thing he wrote as essential in New York Times editorial two years ago. As usual, the only thing the GOP objects to about Obama-backed legislation is that a non-white man proposed it. Obama should try this "Hey, guys. I'd REALLY HATE IT if you passed a Health Care Reform package that did away with all insurance companies and we had universal coverage and a single payer system. I'd veto that if it came across my desk." That would ensure we'd get the health care we need.

    June 27, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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