Gingrich backed the individual mandate long before Romney

We all know that Mitt Romney’s heath insurance reform plan, the centerpiece of which was the individual mandate, became the blueprint for ObamaCare. This source of much skepticism from conservatives and the Tea Party movement, and rightfully so.

For all of his faults, Romney isn’t the only Republican running to push for punitive taxes for those who haven’t purchased health insurance coverage.In fact, when Romney introduced the plan in 2005, the Boston Herald noted that Romney was “allying himself with influential conservatives such as former US House speaker Newt Gingrich, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation.”

The implication here is that Romney was coming to an idea that Gingrich was already backing (note the archived footage from 1993 in the video below). And it’s apparently one that Gingrich still holds. During his ill-fated interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press last May, Gingrich made it clear that he’s “said consistently we ought to have some 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”:

Of course, Gingrich claims that he’s never backed the individual mandate — he posted a video of his own after his Meet the Press appearance as an attempt to control the damage, but as you can see above, that just isn’t true.

And even if you overlook Gingrich’s support of the individual mandate, you still have his role as a lobbyist pushing the expansion of Medicare in 2003. Again, this is an issue we’ve noted before. Jennifer Rubin notes comments by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a fiscal conservative backing Romney and candidate for the open U.S. Senate in Arizona, on Gingrich’s role in expanding the already fiscally unsustainable program (emphasis mine):

Jeff Flake dubbed Gingrich the “father of contemporary earmarking” and accused Gingrich as speaker of telling appropriators to take congressional races into account when doling out the earmarks. Chaffetz widened the attack, making the case that those on the call were among the most conservative members of Congress, and Gingrich was no conservative. He argued that Gingrich has undermined conservatives, as he did by siding with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on global warming and in attacking Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on right-wing social engineering.

I asked the congressmen if they’d ever been lobbied by Gingrich. Flake answered that he hadn’t been individually but said that in the Medicare Part D debate, “[GOP congressman] Billy Tauzin brought Newt in as the closer.” Gingrich ended the GOP conference meeting declaring, “If you can’t pass that bill you don’t deserve to govern.” Ouch.

I’m not defending Romney here. There is plenty to dislike about him. However, the idea that Gingrich is the conservative alternative to Romney is absurd. And specifically on the health care issue, if Romney is the architect of ObamaCare, Gingrich is its grandfather.

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