Hatch supported individual health mandate until Obama did

Tuesday , March 27, 2012 - 5:12 PM

Charles F. Trentelman

While the nation sits glued to its news media source of choice watching the health care debate in the Supreme Court, let us not forget one thing:

At one time everyone involved in this has supported every side of the issue. Sen. Orrin Hatch supported it before he opposed it, for example, but he had lots of company.

Hatch’s blog post on our web site (http://blogs.standard.net/orrin-hatch/2012/03/27/the-individual-mandate-unprecedented-and-unconstitutional/) makes it clear he feels the nation is in peril over this. But, as I said, he supported it first.

In 1993, of course, Hatch felt different. Fact checking web site Politifact checked and found a charged that he favored the individual mandate completely true. (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/14/cenk-uygur/hatch-once-supported-individual-mandate-said-cenk-/)

Does this mean Hatch, along with all the rest, is a flaming hypocrite?

Yeah, pretty much.

As this excellent and rather scary article in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/health-care-provision-at-center-of-supreme-court-debate-was-a-republican-idea/2012/03/25/gIQAoCHocS_story.html?hpid=z1) makes clear, the idea of requiring all people to buy health insurance so everyone is in the risk pool was not some weeny liberal idea.

The Conservatives thought of it first.

President Clinton was working on national health insurance, the Republicans felt a need to counter with a market-driven solution, requiring everyone to pay medical premiums was their answer.

Why? Because Clinton’s original idea of national health care would, and still does, do away with health insurance companies. Those profit driven companies protect their profits by rejecting pleas for health care under any of a zillion excuses, but they are major providers of campaign donations to politicians, so their position in the economy must be protected at all costs.

Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch was one of the big supporters of this GOP idea.

He said people who don’t join insurance pools until they get sick unfairly make everyone else pay for their care without paying their fair share into the pool while they’re healthy.

Hatch was right.

If you don’t buy insurance until you are in your 40s you will, no doubt, get sick in your 50s or 60s and cost the pool a lot more than you ever paid into it. Someone has to pay those bills, and that someone is everyone else.

Anyway, flash forward: Obama gets elected after running against Hillary Clinton. Interestingly, Obama doesn’t support the individual mandates during the campaign, but after he gets elected he discovers that single-payer (essentially setting up the federal government as the national insurance company) still won’t fly.

So he looks around and what does he find?

The GOP idea of mandating individuals buy insurance, already adopted by GOP-controlled Massachusetts and approved by the GOP-loving Heritage Foundation.

So the GOP naturally fell in line and loved that its idea was adopted by the president, right?

Silly person, of course not. If Obama likes it, the GOP hates it.

So there we are today: Obama is fighting before the Supreme Court to retain a health insurance reform plan that is based on ideas the GOP fostered and supported right up until Obama fostered and supported them, at which point the GOP said the idea was evil, unconstitutional, nanny state, and on and on.

The Heritage Foundation has issued an official "Oops!" on the matter.

If this makes it sound as if none of these guys gives a rat’s patoot about you and me, well, it does.

All they want is to win in politics, they’ll say anything, do anything, adopt any position to do so. Hatch is worried the Tea Party is going to eat his lunch.

But he’s hardly alone. All these guys craft their stands to win, not to be actual policy and certainly not with you in mind.

Romney’s "Etch-a-sketch" flub was probably the only honest thing to come out of politics in this country in 20 years.

The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232 or ctrentelman@standard.net.

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