Andrew McCarthy: Romney Urged Obama to Adopt the Individual Health-Care Mandate; Updated: In 2006, Mitt Touted His Mandate as “National Paradigm” for Health Care

Well this is interesting, if not surprising. Via Andrew McCarthy at the National Review:

At BuzzFeed, Andrew Kaczynski breaks the news that, in a 2009 op-ed for USAToday, Mitt Romney encouraged President Obama that he’d be well-served by adopting elements of the Massachusetts Romneycare plan, particularly the individual mandate. [Hat tip, Erick Erickson at Red State.]

In the context of urging on the president “the lessons we learned in Massachusetts” that “could help Washington find” a better way to reform health care, Governor Romney explained, “We established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves, rather than pass their medical costs on others.”

This seems very significant. A number of us have expressed concerns that Romney cannot effectively confront Obama on Obamacare, the wrongheadedness and unpopularity of which make it the Republicans’ most crucial issue in the campaign. In response, Romney posits that he is a Tenth Amendment guy who saw what he was doing as right for his state, and perhaps other states, but certainly not a national model to be adopted at the federal level. For what it’s worth, I’ve contended that those claims are utterly unpersuasive (some are downright frivolous). But that hardly matters now. The op-ed demonstrates that Mitt regarded Romneycare precisely as a model the federal government ought to adopt, and that the “tax penalties” by which Massachusetts’s individual mandate are enforced were a good fit for Congress and the Obama administration to impose by federal law.

Besides the individual mandate, Governor Romney’s op-ed also proposed government-managed cures to address the government-caused cost spiral generated by the government-designed fee-for-service structure. Patients, he suggested, should be “required to pay a portion of their bill, except for certain conditions” — to be chosen, of course, by the government. Providers would be “paid an annual fixed fee for the primary care of an individual and a separate fixed fee for the treatment of a specific condition” — said fixed fees to be fixed by the government.

In posts too numerous to count going back to 2009, I’ve repeatedly argued that a Romney nomination would take the unpopular affront to freedom known as ObamaCare off the table as an issue in 2012, essentially giving Obama a free pass on what would be one of the GOP’s best weapons against Obama with any other candidate. Even Romney’s chief cheerleader at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, has unwittingly admitted this. And yet the establishment continues to fall all over themselves in their effort to coronate this guy as the “electable” candidate, and that we should fall in line and coalesce behind him.  Not me.

Update: (h/t Hot Air) Via Buzzfeed, In 2006, the Mittster was quite bullish about RomneyCare’s mandate being a model for national health care reform:

Will your health plan go national?

I think what we’ve crafted changes the national paradigm. It shows that you can insist on individual responsibility and market reforms to get everybody insured. Personal responsibility and market reform get the markets to work for all our citizens.

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