Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Faux Conservative Newt Gingrich Defends ObamaCare Mandate

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In a move that  surprised most establishment conservatives, Republican Presidential Primary Candidate Newt Gingrich announced on Sunday his support for the individual healthcare mandate, which is a central aspect of federal universal healthcare legislation (ObamaCare).

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Gingrich (who was Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999) told host David Gregory that he continues to advocate for a plan he first called for in the early 1990s as a congressman, which requires every uninsured citizen to purchase or acquire health insurance. In fact, in a 1993 appearance on Meet the Press, Gingrich thoroughly expressed support for what is now a key Democrat policy position:

I am for people, individuals -— exactly like automobile insurance -— individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance. And I am prepared to vote for a voucher system which will give individuals, on a sliding scale, a government subsidy so we insure that everyone as individuals have health insurance.

Furthermore, Gingrich also said that he agrees with the overall goal of ObamaCare, and even refused to criticize Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, considered a presumptive contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, whose “RomneyCare” legislation (which instituted universal healthcare coverage in Massachusetts) is considered the prototype for ObamaCare:

I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay- — help pay for health care. I've said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond.

Even when attempting to disavow criticisms that his proposal bears uncanny similarities to the widely-detested Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats last March, Gingrich nonetheless admitted that he supports a “modified” form of ObamaCare, in which the federal government enforces an individual health insurance mandate, but otherwise leaves health insurance to the states:

In, in the first place, Obama basically is trying to replace the entire insurance system, creating state exchanges, building a Washington-based model, creating a federal system.

Gingrich's position places him squarely to the left of most Republicans, especially in light of widespread conservative opposition to any government legislation that requires private citizens to purchase health insurance. As reported by Newsmax:

Conservative GOP critics like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli say the mandate is unconstitutional because although Congress can regulate commerce, it can’t require people to engage in a particular “economic activity” just because they live in the U.S.

Conservative judicial experts have also taken exception to the claim made by Gingrich and supporters of the Obamacare law that mandating health insurance is the same as the government requirement to purchase car insurance, noting that driving a car is a privilege provided by states and not a constitutional right.

Cucinelli says that "buying auto insurance is voluntary, since you are only required to purchase it if you choose to drive on public roads. But buying health insurance under the new federal law is not voluntary, as you are required to buy it just by virtue of the fact that you are breathing. The federal government has never before in history exercised its regulatory power to require someone to buy a product or service as a condition of residence in the United States."

Other sources have identified Gingrich’s healthcare proposal for what it is. The Wall Street Journal called Gingrich’s description of an ideal healthcare plan with mandates a “pretty good description of what the Democratic Congress passed into law last year. Beginning in 2014, most Americans who don't have insurance will be required to pay a fee, with many, depending on income, getting subsidies to help buy coverage through state-based exchanges.” In this aspect, ObamaCare does not differ at all from a presumptive future GingrichCare program.

Further damaging his political prospects, Gingrich also condemned Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, which would privatize Medicare for Americans under age 55, replacing the government-run program with private insurance policies, as “right-wing social engineering,” a hypocritical statement from Gingrich, who has embraced what could be described as "utopian futurist social engineering" (a philosophy embodied in the writings of Gingrich associate Alvin Toffler, among others) throughout his career.

Gingrich’s announcement comes as no surprise, however, to those authentic conservatives who have long warned of Gingrich’s consistent big-government political ideology. It is expected that someone who has defended key liberal, unconstitutional, and fiscally disastrous programs and policies throughout his entire political career would inevitably embrace socialized medicine, which none other than Vladimir Ilyich Lenin called “the keystone in the arch of the socialist state.”

Gingrich’s long record of liberalism includes support for the federal Department of Energy and Department of Education, the North American Free Trade Association, and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, which gave former President Bill Clinton fast-track authority to bring the United States into the World Trade Organization. Gingrich has also embraced a particularly radical variety of environmentalism (including defense of federal ethanol subsidies to corn farmers, a position that even Al Gore has repudiated as economically infeasible, and an embrace of James Lovelock’s neopagan Gaia Hypothesis). Unsurprisingly, Gingrich has even partnered with Nancy Pelosi (in promoting the global warming hoax) and with Al Sharpton (in promoting greater federal incursion into education).

This is not the first instance in which Gingrich has embraced socialized, big government medicine. He has not only steadily defended and voted for increased funding of Medicaid and Medicare throughout his political career, but also came out as a vociferous and dedicated defender of former President George W. Bush’s gargantuan Medicare Part D reform in 2003, urging every conservative member of Congress to vote for the policy, which has been described as the largest increase in federal healthcare spending and bureaucracy since President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed the creation of Medicaid and Medicare through Congress in 1965. For these actions, Gingrich has been condemned by the fiscally conservative group Club For Growth.

Gingrich acted as cheerleader for a legislative policy that heaped billions of dollars onto a program that was already broke and will contribute as much as $16 Trillion to the national deficit, in present value terms, as well as cost taxpayers 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product by 2030, according to economist Bruce Bartlett. In addition, Gingrich also bears culpability for SCHIP, the unconstitutional, federally-funded State Children’s Health Insurance Program created in 1997 as part of a balanced budget compromise Gingrich helped broker.

Gingrich’s latest statements on healthcare indicate, once again, that he does not embrace true conservative principles of limited government, constitutionalism, fiscal restraint, and the free market. Instead, he embraces big government, environmentalism, futurism, and political largesse at the expense of the Constitution and America’s long-term fiscal viability, a fact long-known by constitutionalists such as John Birch Society president John McManus and others on the conservative side of the spectrum, including journalist Michelle Malkin and talk radio host Michael Savage.

Popular talk show host Rush Limbaugh has called Gingrich’s statements “inexplicable” and said he “threw a nuclear bomb into the whole Republican apparatus.”

Photo: Gingrich speaking at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

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