The Republicans Who Supported an Individual Mandate

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Among Republicans, repeal is in, and the individual mandate is out. But once upon a time there was a health care bill that some Republicans found mighty attractive -- a bill that contained an individual mandate at its core.

I'm referring to the Wyden-Bennett alternative, which would have covered about 94% of Americans. It would have required individuals to buy insurance, and it would have helped them do so by giving them a tax credit. That money would have come from taxing health benefits provided by employers.


Wyden-Bennett never made it very far, and its only real effect was that it dropped like safe on the head of one of its authors, Robert Bennett.

But at least two other Republicans in states whose attorneys general say that an individual mandate is unconstitutional went on the record as supporting the Wyden-Bennett version. They are therefore by the transitive property not supporters of the constitutional case, unless they've changed their minds.

They are Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho. Other Republican cosponsors included Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. 

Incidentally, Mitt Romney was a fan of the Wyden-Bennett approach, speaking of it favorably and noting in June of 2009 that many Republicans liked what they saw in it.

To paraphrase: politics is like fashion. One day you're in, and the next day, you're out.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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