During her appearance Sunday on Face The Nation, Michele Bachmann staked out what might be the toughest line in the Republican field against Mitt Romney on health care: That the individual mandate is not only unconstitutional at the federal level — but the mandate is unconstitutional at the state level, too, as Romney passed it in Massachusetts.
Romney has tried to massage the issue, by arguing that health care reform is largely a state matter, and a conservative would respect states’ rights on the mandate while allowing other states to come up with their own solutions. But not Bachmann — she rejects the states’ rights notion on this one.
During the interview, Bob Schieffer asked Bachmann whether Romney’s Massachusetts health care reform should be held against him.
“I firmly am against the individual mandate. I think it is unconstitutional, whether it’s put into place at the state level by a state legislature or whether it’s put into place at the federal level. I think it’s unconstitutional,” said Bachmann.
“I also think that to deliver the highest quality health care to the greatest number of people at the most reasonable possible cost, you don’t give it to government to do the job, whether it’s the state government or whether it’s the federal government. I believe in the free market. I want to bring free-market policies back to health care. And that will give our people in this country better care.”
Schieffer then asked Bachmann whether she would say anything like this when she is on stage with Romney at a debate (a possible reference to how Bachmann’s fellow Minnesotan, Tim Pawlenty, famously choked on the same question at the last debate).
“Well, I suppose it depends on who’s asking the questions — usually we aren’t able to just go on our own,” said Bachmann. “But I’m sure undoubtedly, we’ll be bringing up this issue of health care, because it’s been the signature issue for President Obama. People are not happy with it. The President needed to focus on the economy, and what this will be is one of the largest spending projects that the federal government has ever taken on. And we simply can’t afford it right now. So I— undoubtedly, this is something we’ll talk about.”
The exchange occurs at the 3:05 mark below: