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Inconvenient History: Proof Positive That Newt Gingrich Supported Healthcare Mandates

As Newt Gingrich takes his turn as the GOP flavor of the week, all that baggage he carries is beginning to be opened, unpacked and examined like a tourist going through customs on a slow day at the airport.

The past few days have shined a light on Newt’s relationship with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the quasi-governmental agencies that Gingrich has been hammering for their role in the nation’s mortgage meltdown. Yet, it turns out that Gingrich’s consulting firm accepted a sum well in excess of one million dollars from these same agencies to push their agenda with his Republican buddies on the Hill.

Now, the media is getting around to examining Gingrich’s record on healthcare reform and are finding themselves shocked to learn that, as Governor Romney accused during one the recent if endless GOP debates, Newt was a big supporter of mandated health insurance long before he was against it.

Anybody who is similarly surprised by this has simply not been paying attention. As I wrote in a Forbes piece back in May of this year, there is a fairly endless record of Gingrich’s commitment to health insurance mandates.

Newt’s explanation for his now inconvenient history is that he only adopted his pro-mandate position in the early 90’s for the purpose of derailing Hillarycare (the failed Clinton administration effort to reform our health care system.)

And yet, he has left a long trail of mandate laden bread crumbs that clearly proves otherwise.

Appearing earlier this year on Meet The Press, Gingrich stood up for his long-held position that mandates were a good idea. However, upon realizing that his statements were causing him big problems with the Republican base, Gingrich recorded and released a video just a few days later wherein he announced:

I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. I fought it for two and half years at the Center for Health Transformation. I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional.

Not only did Newt flip-flop on his position, he outright lied when he said that he has fought the notion of mandates at his Center for Health Transformation.

How do we know he is lying?

Just click on the link and you can visit the Insure All Americans section at Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation website. Of course, should you take a little trip over to this smoking gun today, you will find that the relevant page has been removed. Go figure.

Fortunately, David Corn of Mother Jones and MSNBC, along with the Washington Post, got there before the page was taken down. As a result, courtesy of Corn, we have the screen image of the relevant proposal. You will want to note the highlighted section.

This, my friends, is unarguably a proposal that includes a health insurance mandate. And it gets even more interesting. According to the Washington Post article referenced above, Newt’s healthcare think tank raked in some $37 million from the healthcare industry by supporting the mandate concept.

Nice work if you can get it but not particularly useful if you are going to run for president on a platform that completely trashes what you had previously supported.

Now, one could argue that Newt’s proposal is somehow different from Obamacare because Gingrich exempts those who earn less than $50,000 from having to purchase coverage.

But that argument would fail miserably. In Newt’s book “Real Change”, published in 2008, Gingrich repeated his proposal that those making over $50,000 be required to purchase health insurance. But he also noted that those who earn below that level should receive tax credits or government subsidies to assist them in acquiring health care insurance coverage.

Sound familiar? It should. The proposal is pretty much Obamacare on the nose.

If GOP primary voters are paying attention, this should close the door on poor old Newt. After all, what’s the use of running a cranky old guy for President when he spends most of his time engaging in hypocrisy on steroids and running away from previously held positions for which he was paid magnificently to pursue.

And if this is the kind of candidate you’re looking for, why not choose Governor Romney? A pretty masterful flip-flopper himself, at least Romney made his money the old fashion way – buying companies, stripping them down, putting thousands out of work, and then reselling the pieces for a giant profit.

This has got to be preferable to a man who got rich peddling his influence with his Republican colleagues in Congress to the highest bidder…doesn’t it?

By: Rick Ungar, Contributing Writer, Forbes, November 18, 2011

November 21, 2011 Posted by | Health Reform | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crazy People Running For President

Every four years, many people decide to run for president. You don’t hear about most of them, because the news media decide, and reasonably so, to ignore folks like the immortal Charles Doty. Even among those who have held major political office, however, some are deemed serious and some are not. For instance, Buddy Roemer — a former member of Congress and governor of Louisiana — is considered not serious, as is Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. Both are running for the Republican nomination, but neither gets invited to debates or has journalists reporting on their campaigns. Yet Michele Bachmann is considered one of the “real” candidates, even as she languishes in the mid-single-digits in polls.

Of course she won’t be president, but I think it’s worth pointing out that someone like Bachmann can still be treated as a real candidate. Since we’ve almost gotten used to her, at times one has to step back and marvel at just how incredibly nutty this person is, and the fact that she is not standing on a streetcorner wearing a tinfoil hat and sandwich board but actually has people come to listen to what she has to say. Here’s what she told some folks at a town hall, speaking about another town hall she had held:

“One man stood up, he was over 7-feet tall. He was a physician in the community. And he said, ‘I had a little lady in my office and because of Obamacare, I had to call the IRS and I had to get a number to put on a form before I could see her.'”

Repealing the Affordable Care Act is one of the centerpieces of Bachmann’s campaign, yet the idea that she would have even the barest clue about what the ACA does and doesn’t do is so ridiculous we don’t even bother to expect it. When a presidential candidate gets up and tell an audience that a gigantic doctor told her that he has to call the IRS to get permission to treat patients —something no doctor has ever had to do, and no doctor will ever have to do, ACA or not—what is the appropriate response? The appropriate response is for the national press corps to say, “This person has officially gone nuts. We will therefore not waste any more of our audience’s time on her.” Or maybe, “We’re going to take this opportunity to explain exactly why this candidate is a liar and a fool, so you will understand exactly why we won’t be wasting any more of your time on her.”

It would literally be only a bit more fanciful if Bachmann had said, “The other day I was at a town hall, and a space alien from the planet Gorgrax was there, and he said that because of Obamacare, Gorgraxian medical robots are going to need to travel through an intergalactic wormhole and get permission from Washington bureaucrats before they can treat patients with Flurznoop Syndrome! Is that what we want for America?”

And Republicans wonder why Americans have trouble seeing them as a responsible ruling party.

By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, November 18, 2011

November 21, 2011 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Has Grover Norquist Made Himself Unnecessary?

Republicans don’t need to be threatened into supporting tax cuts for the wealthy.

You should read Tim Dickinson’s long article in Rolling Stone about how the GOP became the party of the one percent. Essentially, the story is that while there was once a real substance to the idea of “fiscal conservatism”—that Republicans really did care about balancing the books and being good stewards of the public’s tax dollars—the last 20 years have brought the Republican Party to a much different place. While they once saw taxes as simply the way to pay for the things government does — they shouldn’t be too high, since conservatives want limited government, but they shouldn’t be so low that we run up deficits — they now see them as an outright evil that really has nothing much at all to do with deficits. Deficits are a handy tool to use when there’s a Democrat in the White House to force spending cuts, but not much more. Dickinson puts Dick Cheney at the center of this story, which one could quibble about, but there’s something here that I think calls for some discussion:

In retrospect, the true victor of the midterm elections last year was not the Tea Party, or even Speaker of the House John Boehner. It was Grover Norquist.

“What has happened over the last two years is that Grover now has soldiers in the field,” says [Bruce] Bartlett, the architect of the Reagan tax cuts. “These Tea Party people, in effect, take their orders from him.” Indeed, a record 98 percent of House Republicans have now signed Norquist’s anti-tax pledge – which includes a second, little-known provision that played a key role in the debt-ceiling debacle. In addition to vowing not to raise taxes, politicians who sign the pledge promise to use any revenue generated by ending a tax subsidy to immediately finance – that’s right – more tax cuts.

We often use this kind of language when talking about special interests, that members of Congress are “taking orders” from one group or another, but it can be misleading. It’s true that part of the genius of Norquist’s pledge is that it imposes a potential cost on any Republican who either refuses to sign it or votes for a tax increase after they have signed it. That cost is the risk of a well-funded primary campaign from the right, and many Republicans certainly fear it. But more important is that today’s Republicans, particularly the younger ones, believe it. You don’t have to threaten them to get them to keep working to cut rich people’s taxes, because they want nothing more. They came up through the party at a time when tax cuts for the wealthy was moving closer and closer to the center of conservative ideology. Today, there is nothing—not a belligerent foreign policy, not opposition to legal abortion, not support for large military budgets, not support for gun rights—that goes deeper to the core of conservative identity. The Republican Party will tolerate some small measure of dissent on almost anything else (there are still a few pro-choice Republicans hanging around, for instance), but not on tax cuts. If you don’t think the rich should pay less than they do, then you can’t call yourself a conservative in 2011.

Grover Norquist played a very important role in pushing along the evolution in the party that led them there. But at this point, his pledge is almost unnecessary. He acknowledges that himself: “‘It’s a different Republican Party now,’ he says. Norquist even goes so far as to liken the kind of Republicans common in Reagan’s day—those willing to raise taxes to strengthen the economy—to segregationists. The ‘modern Republican Party,’ he says, would no sooner recognize a revenue-raiser than the ‘modern Democratic Party would recognize George Wallace.'”

And it’s likely to stay that way for some time. If you’re a young Republican rising through the ranks — let’s say you’ve got your eye on a state rep seat, and you hope to run for Congress in 10 years—you’re marinating in a conservative world where tax cuts for the wealthy are the highest good. You don’t need to be threatened or cajoled into believing it. You’ve been convinced.

By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, November 17, 2011

November 21, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives | , , , , | Leave a comment


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