Newt Gingrich: More health care baggage than Mitt Romney?

The former House speaker used to say government should make people buy health insurance — a tenet of 'ObamaCare' fiercely opposed by the Right

Newt Gingrich
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivered a "full-throated" defense of his state's health care law on Thursday, but he's not the only Republican presidential hopeful who'll need to explain his record on health reform. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich "has been a vocal champion for mandated insurance coverage — the very provision of President Obama's health care legislation that the Republican Party now decries as fundamentally unconstitutional," says Sam Stein at The Huffington Post. Will health care be an albatross for Newt, too?

Newt dug his own political grave: Gingrich might not want to admit it now, says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos, but before the individual mandate became a conservative target, Gingrich said that everyone who could afford it should be required to buy insurance. He proposed subsidies so poor people could get private insurance, too. So, "according to the conservative world view, doesn't that make Newt Gingrich a supporter of tyranny?"

"Newt Gingrich also supported federally mandated health care coverage"

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This is a distortion of Newt's beliefs: "The Huffington Post gets it wrong," says Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler, as quoted by National Review. Newt "is fundamentally opposed to a federal health insurance mandate. He believes such a mandate is unconstitutional." What he advocates is not the "government-run health care systems of ObamaCare and Massachusetts." Everyone should pay for their own health care — on their own, if they can afford it, or with subsidies — but they should be free to choose how they do it.

"Does Gingrich, like Romney, have history of supporting individual mandate?"

Yes, Gingrich backed the individual mandate — it was a GOP idea: Gingrich can say what he wants now, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post, but there's "a long paper record attesting to his support for an individual mandate." And that's hardly surprising. "The individual mandate was a Republican policy idea," one that George W. Bush considered proposing. This wasn't a policy pitched by a few GOP heretics — half the Republicans in the Senate liked it back in the 1990s. How the political winds have changed since...

"A lot of Republicans supported the individual mandate"

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