History, and the facts thereof, can be…inconvenient…
The individual mandate provision of Obamacare is heart and center of the issues before the supreme court, and the focus of the republican opposition. Yet there is one nagging problem- it was a republican idea that they supported since the late 80’s.
So let’s rewind to the late 80’s, when the democrats first started touting the idea of universal healthcare. A conservative economist named Mark Pauly was looking for more republican, ad business friendly, ways to counter the democrats government sponsored plans. To quote him:
“We wanted to find an alternative that was more consistent with market-oriented economic ideas and would involve less government intervention,”
So he cane up with a system of tax credits so all americans could buy at least catastrophic coverage, and a mandate requiring all americans to obtain it.
Then Stuart Butler of the conservative Heritage Foundation seized this idea and ran with it. And in 1993, during Clintons plans for national healthcare, Republican senator John Chafee officially introduced legislation with Pauley/Butlers plans, attracting 20 republican co-sponsors. Of course- Clintons plan, and the republican alternative imploded, and went nowhere.
Then of course in 2004 current republican presidential candidate frontrunner Mitt Romney proposed (and 2 years later signed into law) his states healthcare law, Romneycare, Which of course includes these very ideas formed by Pauley and expanded on by the heritage foundation. And of course, at the time, the conservative Heritage Foundation praised these moves.
So for nearly twenty years, the Republicans invented, proposed, and supported the idea of the individual mandate. And the democrats, slowly came around to it realizing they had to compromise, that it was the only way to get universal health care passed.
Obama on the campaign trail was opposed to the individual mandate. But after election, and starting work and sitting down with prominent democrats such as Tom Daschle and Republican Charles Grassley he agreed that it was the only way the bill would garner bi-partisan support.
Of course, just a few months later, after their town hall meetings and getting derided by the tea-party over the individual mandate, republicans backed away from him.
And of course now, after twenty years of supporting it, requiring it, the republicans and conservatives are blaming it on Obama – the man they helped make accept it in the first place.