Russert asked Romney today: “Mitt Romney runs for president. Healthcare plan. No mandate. No conversation about health insurance, auto insurance. No fine if you don’t sign up. Why, if it’s good for Massachusetts and it’s working in Massachusetts, wouldn’t you apply it to the rest of the country.” Romney responded: ” I would.” Pressed again on whether he would favor a mandate (presumably for individuals) Romney said: “I think it’s a good model for other states. Maybe not every state, but most. And so what I’d do at the federal level is give to every state the same kind of flexibility we got from the federal government, as well as some carrots and sticks to actually get all their citizens insured. And I think a lot of states will choose what we did. I wouldn’t tell them they have to do our plan. Governor Schwarzenegger, for instance, in California, has his own healthcare plan. He’s going about it in a different way. I like mine better than his; he likes his better than mine.” This is why Ron Paul will get 10% of the NH vote. For those who believe in free markets, who don’t think the government –whether Hillary led at the federal government or Arnold/Romney led at the state level — should be bludgeoning the population into buying healthcare it is disturbing to see a Republican blithely pushing this sort of thinking. Simply put: it’s worse when the federal government does it (there’s no escaping it then) but mandates at the state level aren’t something Republicans should be encouraging. Republicans should be the ones cautioning against coercion, pointing out the costs associated with state written insurance plans(which is what results from a mandate) and favoring interstate insurance sales which break down state mischief making. For a party sick of “compassionate conservatism” I don’t see anyone rushing to fill the “good ole grumpy conservative” niche, saying “no” to individual and employer mandates and explaining that “free markets” and “individual choice” are not buzz words but should have real application in policy choices.
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