Fading former GOP frontrunner Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has released another ad that makes Natural Born Killers look like a meditative Sunrise Earth episode. The ad, entitled “Romney’s Remedy,” hits Mitt Romney‘s health care record (and viewers) with a barrage of overwrought jump-cuts, an apocalyptic film score that includes cannon fire, and some snippets of a sketchy study from a conservative think tank. After this ad, Perry supporters will be wishing for a “clean underwear” mandate.
With the passage of President Obama‘s health care reform law, Romney’s precursor law has made him a prime target for Republican opponents, and Perry’s ad is just the latest, most absurdly-produced example:
This will probably work well in a GOP primary, but the eventual nominee will run into trouble with this in a general election, because one of the most popular provisions in Obama’s health care reform law, the one that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition, depends on the individual mandate.
As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney recently noted, though, the individual mandate isn’t some crazy liberal idea. At a recent briefing, Carney quoted Mitt Romney’s defense of Romneycare, and the conservative origins of the individual mandate:
The idea for a health care plan in Massachusetts was not mine alone. The Heritage Foundation, a great conservative think tank, helped on that. I’m told Newt Gingrich, one of the very first people who came up with the idea of an individual mandate, did that years and years ago. It was seen as a conservative idea to say, you know what? People have a responsibility for caring for themselves if they can. We’ll help people who can’t care for themselves, but if you can care for yourself, you gotta take care of yourself and pay your own bills.
Romney also defended the mandate as a way to stop ER freeloaders, during a GOP debate in 2008:
With regards to my health care plan, let me describe what is the ultimate conservative approach. In this country, you have today about 47 million people that don’t have health insurance. We went out and tried to find out why they don’t. We found out that about half of them could afford to buy insurance if it were reasonably priced. They could afford to buy it, but they weren’t buying it. it? If we get sick, we can go to the hospital and get care for free.“ And we said: what? If somebody could afford insurance, they should either buy the insurance or pay their own way. They don’t have to buy insurance if they don’t want to, but pay their own way. But they shouldn’t be allowed to just show up at the hospital and say, somebody else should pay for me. So we said: No more free riders. It was like bringing “workfare” to welfare. We said: If you can afford insurance, then either have the insurance or get a health savings account. Pay your own way, but no more free ride. That was what the mandate did.
Romney’s right, of course. The individual mandate is an idea that only a conservative could love, tantamount to fighting hunger by making it illegal not to buy food. It was the conservative answer to Medicare for All. In fact, no less a conservative icon that Dana Loesch, CNN contributor and editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism, praised Romney’s 2008 debate response as “an exercise in conservatism.”
Instead of running away from his record, Mitt Romney ought to push Perry to offer his plan to deal with uninsured people with preexisting conditions. The alternatives, let ’em die or let ’em eat cake that the government helps pay for, might not sound so good to a lot of conservatives.
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