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Partisan hackery by the Weekly Standard's Jay Cost

July 2, 2012 - Mike Maneval
One day before the Supreme Court revealed its decision on the health care reform law - a decision about which I have mixed opinions - the Weekly Standard published an appraisal of the mandate that consumers purchase health insurance by Jay Cost that was hilariously negligent in its examination of the mandate's history, an appraisal titled, "The Mandate Represents What's Wrong with Democrats."

I oppose the individual mandate, and agree with Cost's exhortations that the mandate is a form of patronage, "at the expense of the public good," and that the mandate is "patently unjust." I agree with Cost that the mandate is an "awful innovation," in his words.

But where Cost's assessment goes off the rails is his bizarre claim that "nothing the Republicans have ever cooked up compares to the individual mandate."

Not only does a policy Republicans and conservatives cooked up compare to the individual mandate: A policy previously supported by the GOP WAS the individual mandate.

In 1989, the conservative Heritage Foundation advocated, according to Fox News' website, a proposal with a provision to "mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance." About five years later, two pieces of legislation co-sponsered by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Charles Grassley of Iowa, offered as alternatives to health care reform proposals coming out of the Clinton administration, included consumer mandates.

And lest anything think this was a brief flirtation between Republicans and consumer mandates, the presumptive 2012 presidential nominee of the Republican Party, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, not only included a consumer mandate in the health care reform law he signed in Massachusetts in 2006 but endorsed a mandate at a federal level in an interview with Charles Gibson of ABC in 2007.

While Cost's criticisms of the mandate have validity, his decision to ignore the reality of Republican and conservative support for consumer mandates over nearly 20 years undermines his credibility as anything other than a partisan hack.


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