Avik Roy has posted what may be the most comprehensive account of the individual mandate mania that once swept the right (or at least the subset of the right made up of health care policy wonks). Roy also points out that a lot of serious conservatives were actually anti-mandate way back in the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich felt they were necessary to combat Hillarycare.
I do have two quibbles, however. Roy writes: “Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who were both House backbenchers in 1993, were also in favor of an individual mandate in those days.” Gingrich was minority whip, the second-ranking Republican in the House, in 1993. He was no backbencher. Second, I find the evidence Santorum supported an individual mandate inconclusive. There are at least two local newspaper accounts that I am aware of, both dating back to his 1994 Senate race, that say he supported a mandate of some kind. One says he supported an individual mandate specifically. No Santorum campaign then or now has, to my knowledge, disputed this. Yet the papers don’t provide any direct quotes either, which makes me wonder if they were describing his position correctly.
UPDATE: Roy updates the record on Santorum’s alternative to the individual mandate. Santorum denied on CNN supporting such a mandate during his 1994 Senate campaign.
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