Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is trying to separate himself from GOP rival Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by claiming to be the most conservative and most anti-President Obama candidate in the field. However, new revelations about his past may make it harder for him to do so: the former speaker once praised Massachusetts’ Obama-like healthcare plan implemented by Romney in 2006.
Romney’s healthcare overhaul in his state has caused quite the ruckus among conservative voters who fear Romney is not as married to conservative values as they would like. Conservatives have condemned Romney’s plan for being a blueprint for Obama’s unpopular federal healthcare overhaul, something they feel is detrimental to the economy as well as unconstitutional.
“Your plan essentially is one more big-government, bureaucratic, high-cost system,” Gingrich told Romney during a GOP debate in Las Vegas.
But the website BuzzFeed has uncovered another quote from Gingrich just a few years earlier :
"We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans," Gingrich’s think tank, Center for Health Transformation, wrote in a 2006 memo.
Gingrich continued his praise by saying that, "Massachusetts leaders are to be commended for this bipartisan proposal to tackle the enormous challenge of finding real solutions for creating a sustainable health system.”
Gingrich’s center has advocated for the individual mandate requiring that “anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond.” Gingrich himself personally supported the mandate in the 90s as part of former Senator Bob Dole’s alternative bill to the Clinton Administration’s healthcare overhaul plan. Unfortunately for Gingrich, this individual mandate has become anathema by conservative voters today who are considered far more to the political right than they were ten years ago.
Gingrich, knowing that his base has shifted to the political right, has since backed down from his support for the mandate. He rationalized his previous support of the mandate during a recent debate saying that it was simply the best way to stop the healthcare overhaul being proposed by the Clinton administration.
He stated: “I just wanna make one point that's historical. In 1993, in fighting HillaryCare, virtually every conservative saw the mandate as a less-dangerous future than what Hillary was trying to do.
The Heritage Foundation was a major advocate of it. After HillaryCare disappeared it became more and more obvious that mandates have all sorts of problems built into them. People gradually tried to find other techniques.
“And that's what we're wrestling with. It's now clear that the mandate, I think, is clearly unconstitutional,” said Gingrich. “But, it started as a conservative effort to stop HillaryCare in the 1990s.”
While this justification may explain Gingrich’s support for the mandate in the 1990s, it does not explain his support for Romney’s plan in 2006.
The Christian Post was unable to reach Gingrich’s campaign for comment