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. Anonymous

    Can Romney go into any detail on any of his "reforms"?

    June 27, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  2. Johnson

    Romney also promised gay equality and the right to choose for women. The man cannot be trusted. No matter what promises he makes he will switch if politically appropriate. One thing for sure from his term as Governor....he is not for the middle class or near poor. He raised so many fees it made it impossible for many to obtain the State requirement such as a drivers license, It wld have been better had he raised taxes (though that didn't tie into his plans to be President).

    June 27, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. Dave

    What, a Republican LIE? A Republican nominee who's a hypocrite?

    I'm shocked. (end sarcasm mode)

    June 27, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  4. WDinDallas

    If you people are trying to influence conservatives or the Supreme Court that Obamacare should be enforced using the line that Romney once supported it, or he flipped flopped or even the fact that the Heritage Foundation was the source of this amazing thought....you are barking up a tree. The issue is constitutional, not emotional.

    June 27, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. GOPer

    To think that ObamaCare is the same as RomneyCare is crazy. ObamaCare is nationwide while RomneyCare is just one state. In order to work, any healthcare must account for the large amounts of illegals as well a large amount of young, white collar employees to subsidize the program. Massachusetts has this..........California does not. Romney may be able to do this in a select few states, but the entire U.S. is crazy. ObamaCare would implode within a year from obscene costs and non payers.

    June 27, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. Romney is a LIAR

    Read my name, enough said!

    June 27, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. Patrick from Minnesota

    Well that's Mitt Etch-a-Sketch Romney for ya!!

    June 27, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  8. BTLProd

    Just because he is in favor of a mandate, doesn't mean he is in favor of this mandate. The Massachusetts Mandate, has one major benefit over the PPACA mandate in that it is Constitutional.

    June 27, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. Romnelius

    This is the most narcissistic person I've ever seen. W Jr. looks is a saint in comparison! God help this country. The antichrist – Mitt Romney! Revelations predicted it...rich, white, from the west, able to lie and convince the ignorant lambs that he was not leading them to a slaughter while they entered the den of wolves! Rich vs. poor! The lamb vs the wolf! Get ready.

    June 27, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Dave

    The King of the Flip-Floppers speaketh...

    June 27, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. Pete

    Romney says no to parts of his own plan,the mandate part and hopes its overturned in Obamacare ,he's definitly delushional.Boy you republican hypocrites like a rough ride because after this issue is over the gloves come off and see how our organizer in chief plays Chicago type ball,its pretty dirty,but it gets the facts across ..If SCOTUS reversed their mandates the justices have their legal hands full,everything that's mandated will be challenged legally in a court of law from state,federal taxes,to mortgage insurance,drivers licences it'll all be challenged all because of their so called impartiality,unbiased approach to everything connected to Pres.Obama.Can you say racism is alive and well in America,ain't it nice hypocrites!!!

    June 27, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  12. ge

    mitt position book has many pages–and plot changes on every page

    June 27, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. TommyTT

    The individual mandate isn't actually a bad thing. (If you drive a car you must buy auto insurance. If you drive a body you must buy health insurance. Otherwise your mess-ups cost everyone else a huge amount of money.) It's just a rallying cry for the right wing to shout out to each other, as if opposing it really has value.

    June 27, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  14. Michael Hobart

    If you paid attention to Romney during the presidential primaries, his solution to our health care problem STILL involves mandates, even though he refuses to use the terms Romneycare or Obamacare. He repeatedly said that people should not get coverage for pre-existing conditions unless they had been continuously covered by medical insurance. He generally did not address the issue of an insurance company claiming that the condition began even earlier.

    This, unfortunately, is not the first instance where Romney is denouncing the policies he earlier held while simultaneously citing his previous experience as evidence of his managerial abilities.

    Truly the etch-a-sketch candidate. Sigh ....

    June 27, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  15. Milton K. Wiah

    I live in the Netherlands for about 23 years. Our health care system has a mandate as well, and everybody is
    insured here. I have had two minor operations but never spent one cent to pay for anything after the operation
    because I am insured.
    Why not everybody is insured in America makes me to wonder why. And many people like the system'
    that only few people with money have access to good doctors and good health system.
    The idea that not every is insured is funny to me. Some, republicans in particular argue that it will cost money.
    What money it will cost? When someone who is not insured is sick, will the government leave that person dead,
    no of course not. The person will be taken to the hospital for treatment which will not be free. That costs more
    money than being insured..

    June 27, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  16. dnick47

    Romney is a bully which means, among other things, its his way or the highway but "his way" can change like the wind – yes, even like a Mary Poppins wind blowing one way then doing a 180 in a second – but which ever way his wind blows its always right or "II'll get you down and cut your hair off! By the way, you don't belong here thing!"

    June 27, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. Charlie

    No real mandate......

    Waiver of Criminal Penalties

    Any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalties with respect to such failure.

    June 27, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  18. Educator 36

    Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

    June 27, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. whitmanguy

    Romney has simply sold his principles to the right wing extremists. They have ways of spinning the concept of Health Care only for Some as "freedom," and he thinks that will get him elected.

    June 27, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. JUGGERNAUT

    flipping and flopping; dancing and skipping; dodging and ducking........Romney should play for the NBA.

    June 27, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  21. Thomas

    This is Mitt Romney , the guy who supports wars , but he nor his sons will ever volinter for military service .

    Mr Flip Flop.

    June 27, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. Liz the First

    If the court hands Obama a defeat on this landmark achievement, it will be for purely political reasons and will totally discredit them. if they rule against the whole thing, they will be killing a substantial number of Americans who would have lived if the law were upheld. this is not hyperbole, it's fact! our 'representative,' diane black, is bragging in her ad about how she saved the taxpayers money by thwarting one provision of the law. she's admitting that the rethugs value money over lives. we knew that already, but she's actually saying it in front of God and everybody. why any sane person would vote for these monsters is beyond me. guess the opererative word is 'sane.'

    June 27, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  23. frank thomas

    what a hypocrite, mr romney this is not the united states of massachusts, I am suprised this flopper gets even 40% of the vote ooh, maybe in utah, the home of his cult.

    June 27, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  24. normajean @ verizon ,com

    Mitt Romney is sooooo lacking in dignity and class that beside a multitide of other reasons... these are two of the totally non-presidential things about him that are literally sickening!!!!.!He says the White House people won't be sleeping well.?? The only reason he has been able to sleep during his whole campaign is because he sees himself as something he is not. This mans business history is full holes...as is his governorship of Massachusetts and yet he has the nerve to stand in front of the cameras and "lie like a rug"... I can't believe that anybody has fallen for what he is ipushing...Wake up people!!!!

    June 27, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. cgs

    ...and Obama decried the mandate and now he supports it. Isn't that a flip flop? ... or maybe he evolved?

    June 27, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
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