In a Tuesday interview with the Des Moines Register, Mitt Romney criticized President Obama for pursuing his own health reform legislation in 2009 rather than backing an existing bipartisan bill — one that also included the individual mandate to buy insurance.
The Republican nominee made the point while arguing that Obama refused to work in a bipartisan manner on the stimulus and health care reform early in his presidency.
“Senator Bennett of Utah along with Senator Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, put together a proposal — bipartisan proposal,” he told the Des Moines Register. “Brushed aside.”
Instead, he said, “Not a single Republican signed on” to Obamacare.
The bipartisan Wyden-Bennett legislation aimed to remake the health care system by leveling the tax treatment of individual and employer-provided insurance, and included a federal requirement for uninsured Americans to purchase coverage. It’s the same provision that Romney and the rest of the GOP decry as bad policy, a violation of the 10th Amendment, and a key reason to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Here’s the audio of Romney’s remarks to DMR, clipped by ThinkProgress.
Bennett was forced into retirement in 2011 after losing the Republican primary in Utah, laregely for having authored universal health care legislation with an individual mandate. Since Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, opposing individual mandates, particularly at the federal level, has become a litmus test for Republicans. But before then, many Republicans, including Romney, backed the idea.
“You look at Wyden-Bennett. That’s a health care plan that a number of Republicans think is a very good health care plan — one that we support,” he told NBC News in June 2009. “Take a look at that one.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.