Rick Santorum Supported Individual Mandates in ‘94

During last night’s Florida GOP primary debate, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) blasted former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) for signing RomneyCare’s individual mandate into law in 2006. Apparently Sen. Santorum forgot that he supported individual mandates when he was running for the U.S. Senate in 1994:

Santorum and Watkins both called for a “comprehensive restructuring” of health care. But they differed sharply on what elements should comprise a basic benefits package.

Watkins would include mental health services, long-term care, prescription drug coverage, dental services and preventive care such as immunizations. Santorum would not. Both reject abortion services.

Santorum and Watkins both oppose having businesses provide health care for their employees. Instead, they would require individuals to purchase insurance. Both oppose higher taxes on alcohol or tobacco to help pay for care.

And here:

Santorum and Watkins would require individuals to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits. Both oppose abortion services and support limits on malpractice awards. Santorum says non-economic damages should not exceed $250,000, adjusted annually for inflation, and lawyers’ contingency fees should be capped at 25 percent.

As our own Jason Pye pointed out on Monday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) also supported individual mandates long before RomneyCare was signed into law. Bizarrely, Romney may be able to turn this into a win by pointing out that he only signed an individual mandate at the state level while Gingrich and Santorum backed mandates at the federal level and absent any constitutional authority to enact them.

What does all of this mean for the race? Well, for starters, it means that Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) is now the only remaining Republican presidential candidate who hasn’t supported mandated health care coverage in the past. It also means that it’s time for Gingrich’s and Santorum’s supporters to acknowledge that their candidates aren’t anti-establishment conservative alternatives to Romney; rather they are both establishment Republicans who have a long history of supporting government expansion. Here’s some other friendly advice for Gingrich and Santorum supporters:

1. If individual mandates are a deal breaker for you, vote for Paul.

2. If you’re not going to vote for Paul, you may want to start seriously thinking about electability now that it’s blatantly obvious that your favored candidates are no more conservative and no less establishment than Romney.

3. If you’re going to continue backing a candidate who has supported mandated health care coverage, do us all a favor and never utter the words “individual mandate” again.


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