Newt Gingrich may want to update the website on his consulting firm.
The Gingrich Group’s “Center For Health Transformation” has a section detailing their prescription for comprehensive health care reform. One crucial plank? A mandate requiring everyone making $50,000 or more to obtain health insurance or post a bond.
According to Mother Jones, which first flagged the site, the post was put up no later than 2008, back when the issue was far less controversial among Republicans.
Gingrich currently says he opposes mandates, but his position has evolved significantly over the years. In the 1990s he supported a health care plan that included an individual mandate as an alternative to President Clinton’s proposed requirement that employers provide insurance. Last Spring he was forced to again clarify his position after he suggested on Meet The Press that America adopt, well, the plan his own consulting firm had come up with, saying that he had long supporter a requirement that “you either have health insurance or you post a bond or in some way you indicate you’re going to be held accountable.” Asked whether it was a mandate, he said it was a “variation on it.”
But Gingrich rapidly retreated from that position, posting a web video the very next day in which he unambiguously shot down the idea of a mandate.
“I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals,” he said. “I fought it for two and half years at the Center for Health Transformation…I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional.”
The language on the group’s website is at least somewhat ambiguous as to whether it endorses a state or a federal mandate, specifically highlighting federal legislation for some recommendations while not mentioning where policies would be implemented for others. But it’s not just federal mandates that are giving Republicans fits these days: Romney’s continued support for a mandate at the state level is one of his chief vulnerabilities in the GOP race.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.