Health Mandates: OK For Perry, Not For Romney

Written by Paul Talley on Thursday June 23, 2011

Mitt Romneys's Massachussetts health care program is an unpleasant reminder to some of the Republican Party's once uncritical acceptance of the individual mandate.

I was watching the debate between Conn Carroll and Noah Kristula-Green yesterday morning and I was struck by a question that Noah posed to Carroll about Rick Perry's prior support of a vaccine mandate for girls in Texas.

Noah asked Carroll why conservatives would overlook such a mandate while at the same time blasting Mitt Romney's health care mandate.

Carroll appeared to be at a loss for words. He first attempted to say that Perry's mandate affects fewer people and therefore would not be as much of an issue.

Actually, in 2006, the uninsured of Massachusetts represented 6.4 percent of the entire population. The other 93.6 percent were already insured. Romney's reforms affected a much smaller group than Perry's proposed requirement that all sixth grade girls receive a vaccine shot.

Furthermore, at the time, conservatives in Texas were greatly upset over Perry's mandate. Social conservatives blasted Perry, arguing that his proposals promoted "sexual promiscuity." Others questioned how much such a mandate would cost the state of Texas. Some legislatures were angry that Perry had circumvented the legislative process.

None of those criticisms can (or should) be levied at Romneycare. No, not even the cost factor -- Romneycare was about 1.2 percent of the state budget in 2010. And far from "circumventing the legislative process," Romneycare was a wonderful display of bipartisan cooperation.

So why does Carroll think Romney has a problem, but Perry doesn't? Why has the Republican establishment been feverishly shopping for an anti-Romney?

Because Romney's past health care reform reminds everybody of the Republican Party's past support/acceptance of the individual mandate. The order of events goes a little something like this.

1. Republican leader/policy makers either supported the individual mandate or didn't think much about it.

2. At the same time, talk radio/Fox News developed a culture of warrior opposition to anything that resembles a Democrat.

3. A Kenyan Socialist decided to adopt a Republican idea in his health care plan.

4. Talk radio/Fox News blasted the health care plan, while Republican leaders/policy makers scrambled to come out against the individual mandate.

5. All would be sound and well for these Republican leaders/policy makers, if this guy Mitt Romney, who is a walking embodiment of past Republican beliefs on health care, would just go away.