Newt Gingrich Celebrated Romneycare in 2006

His bygone praise for the program, juxtaposed with his more recent critique, makes him look like an opportunistic liar.


An eagle-eyed Andrew Kaczynski has spotted something of interest on an old Newt Gingrich web site accessible only via the Way Back Machine: circa April 2006, the former House Speaker lavished effusive praise on Mitt Romney for the passage of his landmark health care bill in Massachusetts.

GOP primary watchers with long memories will recall that Tim Pawlenty was deemed unacceptable when he refused to repeat the nasty things he said about Romneycare to Mitt Romney's face. In contrast, Gingrich, who has no shame,  is happy to attack on the debate stage: "And candidly, Mitt," he once said, as if to underscore the shamelessness, "your plan essentially is one more big-government, bureaucratic, high-cost system which, candidly, could not have been done by any other state." But here are some of the things Gingrich said back in 2006:

  • "The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts. The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system."
  • "We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100% insurance coverage for all Americans. Individuals without coverage often do not receive quality medical attention on par with those who do have insurance. We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System. Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers."
  • "While the Commonwealth's plan will naturally endure tremendous scrutiny from those who assert that the law will not work as intended, 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."

You'll recall that Gingrich recently explained away his support for an individual mandate by saying that he only embraced it as a strategy to defeat Bill and Hilary Clinton's health-care proposal. And yet here he is touting the wisdom of an individual mandate 6 years into the Bush Administration -- his only critique was that it should kick in at an income of $54,000. Says health-care blogger Avik Roy, "I fully appreciate that there are conservative voters who can't forgive Mitt Romney for Romneycare. But what I don't understand is why some of these conservatives think that Newt Gingrich is the solution." Perhaps they get their information from unreliable sources.

Image credit: Reuters
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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