Retreating from the Individual Mandate

Conservative eyebrows have been raised over the past few weeks over Mitt Romney’s defense of the individual mandate in the health care legislation. He has on more than one occasion sought to claim the idea as his own.Perhaps we can now be done with that.Over the weekend a conservative blogger named Kavon Nikrad confronted Romney and asked if he supported repeal of the individual mandate. Nikrad says Romney told him bluntly, “No.”Today, writing in the Washington Post, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Moffit repudiates the individual mandate on behalf of the Heritage Foundation.

For the record, we think that the law’s federal mandate is unconstitutional. Our legal center, led by former attorney general Edwin Meese III, notes that Congress has no authority to force an American to buy any good or service merely as a requirement of being alive.Yes, in the early 1990s, we, along with other prominent conservative economists, supported the idea of such a mandate. It seemed the only way to solve the “free-rider” problem, in which individuals can, under federal law, walk into any hospital emergency room nationwide and rack up big bills at taxpayer expense.Our research in the ensuing two decades has led us to realize our initial idea was operationally ineffective and legally defective.

This afternoon, Mitt Romney’s spokesman also tells the Politico that Governor Romney too does want full repeal, including repeal of the individual mandate.Good all around.