mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

Of Course Newt Gingrich Supported A Health Care Mandate

Mitt Romney continues to face all kinds of heat over his support for a health care mandate, in large part because he continues to defend it. But Sam Stein notes this week that disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Romney rival for the Republican presidential nomination, was just as ardent an advocate of the idea.

In his post-congressional life, Gingrich has been a vocal champion for mandated insurance coverage — the very provision of President Obama’s health care legislation that the Republican Party now decries as fundamentally unconstitutional.

This mandate was hardly some little-discussed aspect of Gingrich’s plan for health care reform. In the mid-2000s, he partnered with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) to promote a centrist solution to fixing the nation’s health care system. A July 22, 2005, Hotline article on one of the duo’s events described the former speaker as endorsing not just state-based mandates (the linchpin of Romney’s Massachusetts law) but “some federal mandates” as well. A New York Sun writeup of what appears to be the same event noted that “both politicians appeared to endorse proposals to require all individuals to have some form of health coverage.”

Neera Tanden, an aide to Clinton at the time who went on to help craft President Obama’s law, said she couldn’t recall exact speeches, but “strongly” believed that the both Clinton and Gingrich backed the individual mandate. Either way, she added, “Gingrich has been known as a supporter” of the idea for some time.

A simple newspaper archive search bears this out.

Gingrich endorsed the individual health care mandate over and over again, in public remarks, in media interviews, and in policy proposals. Ironically, he even explained the importance of the mandate in a book entitled, “Winning the Future.” Gingrich didn’t just grudgingly go along with the measure as part of some kind of compromise; he actively touted it as a good idea.

And he was right.

But that was before President Obama decided he also agreed with the idea, at which point the mandate became poisonous in Republican circles.

The point to keep in mind, though, is that Gingrich’s support for the idea isn’t at all surprising. Indeed, it would have been odd if Gingrich didn’t endorse the mandate.

For those who’ve forgotten, this was a Republican idea in the first place. Nixon embraced it in the 1970s, and George H.W. Bush supported the idea in the 1980s. When Dole endorsed the mandate in 1994, it was in keeping with the party’s prevailing attitudes at the time. Romney embraced the mandate as governor and it was largely ignored during the ‘08 campaign, since it was in keeping with the GOP mainstream.

In recent years, the mandate has also been embraced by the likes of John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Scott Brown, and Judd Gregg, among many others. Indeed, several of them not only endorsed the policy, they literally co-sponsored legislation that included a mandate.

During the fight over Obama’s reform proposal, Grassley told Fox News, of all outlets, “I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate” — and there was no pushback from party leaders. This isn’t ancient history; it was a year and a half ago.

Newt Gingrich touted the same idea? Well, sure, of course he did.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, The Washington Monthly, May 13, 2011

May 13, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Congress, Conservatives, GOP, Government, Health Care, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Individual Mandate, Insurance Companies, Mitt Romney, Politics, President Obama, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Courage Of Convictions: The Tax Collector And The Republican

Congressional Republicans constantly remind us that principle is more important than principal. They are willing to shrink government at all costs. The latest example comes from the new budget agreement that has an impact on the IRS and tax collections.

Tax collection is one of the IRS’s principle functions as we are all reminded this time of year. There are some who not only refuse to cheerfully pay what they owe but actively take steps to avoid paying taxes they owe. As a result, some IRS employees have as their main job, identifying those people and taking steps to encourage them to pay what they owe.

In 2006, Republicans in Congress came up with a whole new approach that provided employment to the non-governmental sector, a group that is always favored by Republicans. (That is because Republicans know that those who work for the government tend to be lazy and inefficient whereas those in the private sector are hard working and productive. That is, of course, something of a generalization, since occasionally someone in the private sector will disappoint and prove to be lazy and/or unproductive.)

Because of the Republican belief in the virtues of the private sector (which is almost as fervent as its belief that in taking funds from programs for children and the poor it is doing God’s work), in August of 2006 it was announced that within a couple of weeks the IRS would turn over to private collection agencies 12,500 delinquent tax accounts of $25,000 or less. According to the New York Times, this new way of collecting taxes was thought up and put in place by the Bush administration. The plan had, like many plans do, an upside and a downside.

The upside was that the debt collectors were part of the private sector. Under the private debt collection system the collectors would collect $1.4 billion each year of which they could keep $330 million, thus lining the private sectors’ pockets by that amount instead of having it go into a government pocket where it would, in all likelihood, get lost. Although that seems like a win-win, in 2002 Charles Rossotti, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, had told Congress that if it hired additional IRS employees to handle collections, it could collect more than $9 billion each year at a cost of only $296 million, considerably less than the cost if the same work was done by private collection agencies. That came out to a cost of $.03 per dollar collected. According to the NYT, his testimony was correct but Congress didn’t want to swell the size of government by authorizing the hiring of additional personnel for the IRS. Charles Everson, IRS Commissioner in 2006, when the private debt collection program was implemented, agreed with Mr. Rossotti and said it was more efficient to hire more IRS personnel but Congress would not appropriate the funds it needed to do that. Congress’s reluctance is a perfectly sensible approach since if you want to shrink government you have to make sacrifices and in this case, the sacrifice is increased revenue.

In 2008 Democrats took control of both houses of Congress and in March of 2009 it was announced that the IRS had determined that IRS employees could do collection work more efficiently than the private debt collectors, just as Rossotti and Everson had said some years earlier, and there was no reason to continue the program. Senator Grassley, who was the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was outraged. Ignoring the fact that the government would have more money if the IRS were responsible for collections, he said the IRS was caving in to “union-driven political pressure.” He would have rather seen the federal government lose money than take away business from the private sector. The last chapter in this saga, however, has not been written.

Now that the budget compromise had been reached here is one of the things that has happened. The White House had requested an increase in the IRS budget of approximately 9% which would have enabled the agency to hire an additional 5000 personnel. Many of those could have been used to collect taxes which would have helped reduce the deficit. Echoing what Messrs. Rossotti and Everson had said years earlier, Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, who testified before Congress in March, said: “Every dollar invested in IRS yields nearly five dollars in increased revenue from non-compliant taxpayers.”

Republicans have refused to authorize the hiring of additional personnel at the IRS in order to collect taxes. A release from John Boehner’s office said increased funding for the IRS had been denied as part of the budget agreement. This shows that the Republican majority has the courage of its convictions. The rest of the country can enjoy the benefits of living off the fruits of its follies.

By: Christopher Brauchli, CommonDreams.org, April 16, 2011

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Democrats, Economy, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, IRS, Jobs, Lawmakers, Politics, Public Employees, Republicans, Tax Evasion, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Unions | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: