9:09 AM, Dec 6, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
On Saturday night, while most sensible people were happily flipping back and forth between the Big Ten championship game, the ACC championship game, and the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game, the Republican presidential candidates (save Jon Huntsman) appeared at a televised presidential forum in New York City. These were the exchanges on Obamacare:
Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general of Virginia: “Mr. Speaker, you speak passionately about first principles and small government — smaller government, yet you supported individual mandates for health insurance….Why should limited government conservatives like me trust that a President Gingrich will not advance these sorts of big government approaches when you are president?”
Newt Gingrich: “Well…the original individual mandate originally was developed by [the] Heritage Foundation and others as a method to block Hillarycare in 1993, and virtually all of us who were conservatives came to the conclusion that, in fact, it was more dangerous and more difficult to implement, and guaranteed that politics and politicians would define health care. And that’s why virtually every conservative has, in fact, left that kind of a model.”
Cuccinelli: “Governor [Romney], in a general election debate, President Obama will say that his health care law was based on your Massachusetts model. What would be your response to the president in that debate?”
Mitt Romney: “I — I sure look forward to that because I’ll say, ‘Mr. President, thank you for the compliment, but why didn’t you give me a call?’
“‘Why — why didn’t you pick up the phone and ask me what I’d do differently? What I’d do the same? Why didn’t you ask me what the flaws were in the Massachusetts plan?’”
Cuccinelli: “Well, let me ask — let me ask you, what would you do differently?”
Romney: “Oh, a lot of things. Actually the bill that I proposed was different than the final bill. Some measures in the final bill I vetoed. They were overwritten by the legislature. And actually I’m sure that in the years that have passed some things have been seen to have gone well. Some things needed to be adjusted and improved.
“So do I like the bill overall? Yes. Am I proud of what we did for our state? Yes.
“But what the president has done is way beyond what we envisioned. We were trying to take care of the eight percent of our population that didn’t have insurance. The president is not just worried about the people without insurance. Obamacare is about taking over 100 percent of the people’s insurance in this country.”
Cuccinelli: “Well, you would acknowledge, you would agree wouldn’t you, that even when you were taking — trying to take care of that eight percent, what you did in that bill in Massachusetts in 2006 affected the entire industry in Massachusetts, correct?”
Romney: “Well, it was intended to in a — in a very limited way, if at all. For the 92 percent of people who already had insurance, nothing changed. They continued to get the insurance from their private insurance companies, and the eight percent, by the way, also got private insurance. They didn’t get government insurance. They got private insurance. So for the 92 percent of us that were already insured, nothing changed.
“We had hoped that what we did would help bring down the cost of health care even in a modest way. That didn’t happen. There’s some who say it’s come down a little bit but — or the — the rate of growth has come down a little bit. But in terms of getting down the cost of health care, that’s the real objective that we ought to be looking at, at the federal level.”
Cuccinelli: “[Governor Perry,] you said that if elected you’d issue an executive order to block the implementation of the federal health-care law. What is your authority to unilaterally invalidate a law passed by Congress and signed [by the President]?”
Rick Perry: “Well, obviously executive order and in those agencies also there is a substantial amount of that bill that allowed for the agencies to put the rules in place. So I’m going to put people in as the head of Health and Human Services, for instance, that share my philosophy that obviously Medicaid, for instance, needs to be migrated back to the states.