Mitt Romney didn't just want an individual health care mandate when he was governor of Massachusetts, he wanted to publicly shame companies who didn't provide insurance with a quarterly ad in the lamestream media. When Romney's term as governor ended, his staff deleted emails from a server computer, seemingly wiping them from the public record for good. But The Wall Street Journal's Mark Maremont found a cache through a public records request. Romney used a private Hotmail address to discuss how to negotiate with Democrats to pass the legislation. Maremont's find is fascinating as it shows how much Romney was involved in negotiations and how passionately he argued for the individual mandate, the one part of Obamacare that conservative voters hate most.
The Obama White House has been discussing ways to keep Obamacare alive even if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports, writing "administration officials now believe that the law can stand without the individual mandate." The Romney of 2006 would disagree. On April 8, 2006, Romney emailed staffers to say he stayed home to write an op-ed for the Journal defending the individual mandate. It's clear the draft is Romney's own work, as he worries it isn't "cerebral enough" for the newspaper:
So, I stayed home to write an op ed. No New Hampshire, Lousy weather anyway.
Take a look at what I've drafted. I'm not sure it's cerebral enough for the WSJ. Maybe somewhere. Maybe a re-work. Of course, as always, praise is
welcome. Best, Mitt
For those who remember the wild cheers at a Republican debate in September in response to the moderator's question about what Ron Paul think should happen to a seriously ill uninsured person. “Are you saying society should just let him die?” Wolf Blitzer asked. A man shouted "Yes!" and the crowd roared. Romney does not appear to share that view.
Some of my libertarian friends balk at an individual mandate. But is it libertarian to insist that government pick up the tab for those without insurance or means to pay? An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible -- and inhumane.
In the version that was published the day before he signed Romneycare into law, Romney toned that passage down -- the word "human" doesn't show up. From the final op-ed:
Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.
In another passage potentially infuriating to conservatives, a staffer suggests they revisit "the Gov's original notion of having some sort of 'public disclosure' of employers who promote a culture of uninsurance." That would take the form of listing how many people were uninsured at various companies and publishing it as an ad in the Boston Globe four times a year. Republicans are nervous Romney won't be able to excite the base if the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, Politico reports. "If the court overturns it, 10 million conservative activists suddenly breathe a great sigh of relief, and may not be quite as intensely active," one Republican told the site. Now they have even more reason to turn instead to actively reminding Romney not to relapse into his mandate-loving tendencies.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.