On June 21, 2005, Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, now the Republican candidate for President, gave a speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential library advocating for a new, controversial healthcare law he wanted passed in the state.
The bill was controversial with some conservatives because it was going to try to lower the cost of health care by requiring all citizens to buy health insurance.
This was called an “individual mandate.”
Even some of Romney’s aids wondered: should a government be able to require its citizens buy anything?
But after the speech, Romney spoke with the press and told them that, actually, the individual mandate is “the ultimate conservative ideal.”
Michael Kranish and Scott Helman report on the moment in their excellent book, the Real Romney:
Romney delivered his speech, publicly backing an individual mandate for the first time. He told reporters afterward, “No more free riding, if you will, where an individual says, ‘I’m not going to pay, even though I can afford it.’ ” He called it “the ultimate conservative idea,” saying that people “don’t look to government to take care of them if they can afford to take care of themselves.”
Eventually, Romney’s health care bill – and the mandate – were passed into law. Romney was so proud of this accomplishment that he asked his portraitist to include a copy of the bill in his official portrait. It’s next to the picture of his wife in the portrait above. You can see the gold caduceus on the bill’s cover.
These days, Romney opposes Barack Obama’s successfully passed health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” which also has an individual mandate. Romney says he opposes it on the basis that it is a solution that should not be imposed on the federal level.
We learned all this reading The Real Romney, a deeply reported and informative book by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman. You should read if want to know about the guy whom half the country wants to be our next president. Pre-order the up-coming, updated, paperback version here. Or buy the Kindle edition.
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