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Did Mitch Daniels Support Health Care Mandate or a Health Care Tax Credit?

3:48 PM, May 20, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Yesterday, this 2003 South Bend Tribune article on Mitch Daniels was highlighted by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post and then made its way around the blogosphere: 

The candidate said he favors a universal health care system that would move away from employee-based health policies and make it mandatory for all Americans to have health insurance.

Daniels envisioned one scenario in which residents could certify their coverage when paying income taxes and receive a tax exemption that would cover the cost.

"We really have to have universal coverage," Daniels said.

Emphasis added to both parts in bold. The word "mandatory" is what led more than a few people to claim that Daniels supported a health care mandate, but the reference to "tax exemption" indicates that Daniels favored using a carrot, not a stick, to increase the number of people with insurance.

And, yes, there is a big difference between the two. Some liberal writers recently wrote that Paul Ryan's support for a health care tax credit (included in his Roadmap, not the GOP budget) amounted to a health care mandate. "By this logic," wrote Jeffrey Anderson, "the child tax credit is likewise a federal requirement to have children. If you don’t have a child, you don’t get the tax break, and therefore you are required to have children."

So which did Daniels support--a penalty or an incentive? Philip Klein over at the Washington Examiner has a copy of Daniels' 2004 health care platform that clearly indicates he favored tax credits, not a mandate. Unless a direct quotation from Daniels proves otherwise, it seems like he's safe from the charge that he backed a mandate.

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