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. Getoverit

    Because you all think you know that Romney's plan will be the same as Obama's or the same as Massachusetts. Stop trying to think so much, it's dangerous.

    June 28, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  2. chaing

    An example of the GOP platform; lie, cheat, steal, sling mud, demean yet with no real platform but bonuses for the rich, the bankers, wall street thieves and overseas corporations. Many of us saw the GOP debates....what else do we expect from this creep!? Vote for them (he's just a puppet) and you deserve what you get......Obama 2012!!

    June 28, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  3. TomCom

    Romney. say anythig to be the pres

    June 28, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  4. mike52

    Its not about the 300 million people in this country its about greed and power. Obama puts his name on a GOP idea and the next thing you know it's socialism and unconstitutional. It's beyond hypocrisy and it's obvious to anyone with a brain what is going on. The next election is America's last chance to punish those who have hi-jacked our political system and have made a mockery of it. As an independent I am disgusted with the GOP in congress because they are doing everything in their power to deter America's recovery from their failed policies. Record filibusters, every vote down party lines, against campaign reform, holding up important government positions, went along with the Tea Party downgrade of the countries credit. When does this non-sense end?

    June 28, 2012 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  5. John

    Romney is the world's biggest flip-flopper. The only principle governing his actions is what he thinks will advance his political future. What a disaster if this clown were actually to become president.

    June 28, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  6. Namecelsup19

    Obama is playing chess. Republicans are playing checkers out here. Obama will win in the end. Remember he out smarted the smartest to become president in the first place. repubs pay attn just a little bit closer

    June 28, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  7. Joseph Smith

    Romney has a severe personality disorder. Kind of a Charlie Sheen deep-seeded crazy.

    June 28, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  8. revolting peasant

    I feel bad for Romney. HIs crowning achievement was the MA health insurance reforms. It should have won him the presidency. Instead, he has to bend over the chair to the Republican party leadership and make up reasons why his great work is not, in fact, a blueprint for America. How humiliating. I wonder if after saying it so many times, he now legitimately believes his reforms are junk. My only hope is that if Mitt wins, he becomes his own man and takes over the party leadership.

    June 28, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  9. Judith

    Mr. Etch-a-Sketch at work once more, proving that he is a worthless human witn no principle he won"t seel to get to the White House. He and his overprivileged wife and sons never had to worry about paying for healthcare. Just like the rest of the one-percenters, he could care less about the common working people.

    June 28, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  10. truth hurts

    federal authority granted under the constitution by the people does not give this power to the federal government. quite simple really. what the people didn;t specifically give to the federal government, they kept or the states kept. what's so hard for democrats to understand about this? it's only been this way for over 200 years. slow learners i guess.

    June 28, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  11. Dan5404

    What else is new? Romney has been on both sides of most major issues. He is the consumate flip-flopper and can't give a specific plan on anything. A leader?...I think not! More like a two-faced pretender.

    June 28, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  12. Mike from Calgary

    Romney's campaign sounds like it has been choreographed by George Costanza ...the CAMPAIGN ABOUT NOTHING! What did Romney say or what questions did he answer today? Nothing! There ... there's your campaign!

    What's it about ? Nothing ! Exactly!

    June 28, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  13. Rawmoney2012

    I predict that in one or two weeks, if the healthcare bill is left intact, Romney will at some point claim that, "It's actually my idea. I pushed the idea of a national mandate. I'll take a lot of credit for all of that."

    June 28, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  14. s

    Never tells us his policies, because he has none,this guy is a looser, ,he pushed so hard for MASS mandate and now look, not a surprize!! he and his clan are the same way.

    June 28, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  15. Paul Price

    You cannot accuse Obama of doing anything illegal. Nixon created that policy
    in 1974. If you do not believe it, watch the Frost/Nixon interviews. Nixon
    made it very clear:

    "I am saying, that if the President did it, then it is NOT illegal"

    Nixon was not lying was he? A Republican NEVER lies!

    June 28, 2012 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  16. Ontheflipside

    If you drive a car in this country, you are req hired to have automobile insurance. Makes sense that if you breath in this country, you NEED health insurance. The only people who will be inconvenienced by this law are the discriminating health insurance companies. And the cost will soon be so high that no one will have health insurance. After the health care law is upheld, it'll be time to address why an appendectomy costs $15000 for one person vs $150,000 for another.And as far as employers balking at the cost, do they balk at paying someone else's healthcare cost? President Obama is right. Mitt? What a joke! he passes the very same law in Massachusetts and now he's against it? Mitt is going to take Planned Parenthood away and women's health insurance as we know it today. Be prepared for women to tell Mitt Romney exactly what we think about his antii women's healthcare! Chauvinist. And if he wasn't Morman, I'd think I was listening to the Blasphemy from the Catholic hierachacy!

    June 28, 2012 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  17. scott

    @mommytwice.

    Because he is less insane then Obama, and is not intent on destroying our way of life like Obama

    June 28, 2012 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  18. anthony78

    Flip meet Flop. Typical Romney. How do his defenders spin this one? Mitt was for it before he was against it.

    June 28, 2012 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  19. Fish or cut bait?

    You have been a naughty healthcare law. You deserve to be struck down. Just you wait til Mitt is done using vague terms while arguing with himself and building castles in the sky. You are going to get yours!

    June 28, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  20. 0rangeW3dge

    Once again the Phantom Platform of the Republican party promises to make it "better", if they are elected.

    I guess you have to vote for the candidate to find out what the candidate stands for...

    June 28, 2012 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  21. Don

    If it passes the Supreme Court intact I wonder how long until the people opposed to it take credit for it?

    June 28, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  22. onlyfacts61

    Romneys real reform will be, increased profits for insurance providers, which means if your not a rich American, your going to pay higher premiums and be denied more benefits. WAKE UP Romney fans, he aint in this for you!

    June 28, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  23. The GOP needs to pack up and leave

    What's really sad is that the GOP has no one worthy of running for the office of the president. The best they could do is Romney? This guy is a joke.

    June 28, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  24. Mark Taylor

    Whatever is expedient and seems popular with the base at the moment. This man is the very epitome of the flip-flopping brush these same supporters painted John Kerry with. Mitt Romney has one core principal: "Mitt Romney is for that which propels him forward and against everything else" He's demonstrated this throughout his business and public "service" career.

    June 28, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  25. mattski

    Romney is a spineless hypocrit who will say anything to get elected. And just like the Republicans in Congress, he'll go against things he truly believes just to keep Obama from succeeding. Republicans are going to feel screwed when they vote for someone who doesn't really believe what they do.

    June 28, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
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