Attention! The government has shutdown!
Ok, so that isn't really "news" to anyone. All of us who have not been living under a rock are aware that House Republicans want to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. Their efforts seem futile because the Democrat majority in the Senate is not likely to pass any bill altering implementation of the PPACA. Even if Harry Reid and Senate Democrats had a massive change of heart it is even more unlikely President Obama would sign any legislation into law that would water down what might be his greatest legacy "for better or worse."
During the 2012 presidential election we heard quips about how Romneycare is essentially Obamacare. These were dismissed by many because of the state vs. federal nature of the laws. The interesting thing about Obamacare, or more specifically the individual mandate, is that it really, really, really was a Republican idea. Long before Romneycare existed the Heritage Foundation came up the idea. In fact, the Heritage Foundation dreamed up the individual mandate plan before Hillarycare! To be fair the Heritage Foundation came out later in the 90's to reject the mandate.
A conservative think tank that came up with an idea that the Republican Party would oppose nearly 25 years later isn't exactly a "gotcha" fact. What is far more interesting is the actual legislation proposed by Republicans that contained an individual mandate. Yes, you heard that right. Congressional Republicans sponsored legislation that contained versions of the individual mandate long before Obamacare.
The first culprit was called "Consumer Choice Health Security Act". It was sponsored by Don Nickles (R-OK) and had 24 Republican cosponsors. This was the Republican alternative to employer focused health reform or any kind of single payer system. It was based off of a Heritage Foundation proposal.
The second proposal was called "Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act." Like the Consumer Choice Health Security Act it contained government subsidies for low income people who did not qualify for Medicare to purchase insurance. It also touched upon pre-existing conditions, consumer protection, and required every citizen to be covered by health insurance by 2005. Yes, a government mandate to purchase health insurance.
Who supported these proposals and the many other mandate ideas kicked around by Republicans? Robert Dole, Pete Domenici, David Durenberger, Duncn Faircloth, Slade Gorton, Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Mark Hatfield, Nancy Kassebaum, Richard Lugar, Alan Simpson, Arlen Spector, Ted Stevens, John Warner......... the list goes on and on. Even President Bush "W's father" considered the individual mandate as a viable health reform option.
So what? Can't people, or political parties change their minds? So what if Republicans in the 80's and 90's supported the individual mandate. Maybe, like the Heritage Foundation, they came to their senses and later rejected it. That would be a valid argument except for the fact that many Republicans continued to support the individual mandate all the way up to 2009. That's an interesting year to change your mind isn't it?
Robert Bennett (R-UT) stated in a 2012 interview with NPR that opposition to the individual mandate did not really start until after Obamacare was proposed.
Is it possible that the Republican Party is actively engaged in the biggest political flip-flop of the century?