Both Gingrich and Romney, for instance, supported a universal health-care plan backed by an individual mandate requiring all Americans of means to purchase health-care insurance — just as Obama does.
They have their excuses, of course. Gingrich says he supported such a plan in the 1990s only because he was working to defeat HillaryCare. But that doesn’t explain why he published an op-ed in 2007 arguing that Congress should “require anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year to purchase health insurance or post a bond.” And last week, David Corn of Mother Jones reported that that position was still on the Web site of Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation.
Romney’s excuse is that he supported an individual mandate only at the state level. And he was governor of Massachusetts — the bluest of blue states. He would never have proposed such a thing nationally.
But in June 2009, Romney appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and, responding to comments from David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political adviser, said the Republican Party needs to be able to say, “Listen, Mr. Axelrod, you’re wrong when you say we don’t have ideas.” Among those ideas? “The right way to proceed is to reform health care. That we can do, as we did it in Massachusetts, as Wyden-Bennett is proposing doing it at the national level.”
The Wyden-Bennett Healthy Americans Act, in case you’ve not read the bill lately, included a national individual mandate.
Gingrich and Romney also supported limits on carbon emissions to combat climate change. Gingrich’s support was particularly full-throated. “I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support,” he said in 2007.
He even filmed an ad for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project in which he sat on a couch with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said, “we do agree our country must take action to address climate change.”
Romney agreed, too. As governor of Massachusetts, he moved to have his state join a regional cap-and-trade program for power plants known as the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” although he reversed that position in 2005. He also imposed mandatory carbon-emission limits on the electric utilities in his state.
Obama, of course, is also a well-known supporter of programs to limit carbon emissions.