Obama on the Individual Mandate


While everyone is making fun of Mitt Romney — justifiably — for being in favor of the individual mandate to buy health insurance while governor and now being opposed to it, it turns out that Obama has done the same thing. He was strongly opposed to the individual mandate in 2008, in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s support for it. Here’s the video:

Comments

  1. Michael Heath says

    I remember then-Sen. Obama’s anti-mandate and anti-single-payer argument vividly during the ’08 election campaign. It was the most illustrative example of my hesitancy in supporting him rather than Hillary Clinton. In fact it was the sole concern I had with him given I gave no weight to Ms. Clinton’s claim her First Lady experience provided her with executive experience to be president*, and therefore suffered equally with Mr. Obama when it came to their lack of demonstrated executive success. I found Mr. Obama’s position revealed a basic ignorance of basic economic principles and revealed he wasn’t sufficiently informed on the topic to weigh-in.

    However, I also found that Mr. Obama was quickly improving his understanding of economics as the campaign season matured. Deep into the 2008 campaign season the NYTs did an excellent longish piece on the intense process which Mr. Obama deployed to better understand economics and current events which required economic literacy to better understand. It had him spending considerable time with a variety of highly respected economists and successful economic policy-makers.

    Therefore I think putting this video forth with little commentary risks people conflating that Obama’s transformation is no better than Romney’s; I strongly disagree. I think the difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on this issue is that Mr. Obama has moved from a defectively utopian view of the health care financing market to one that can be defended by basic economic principles and successful benchmark results we should consider from other countries who yield better results with lower costs. Whereas Mitt Romney has moved from a defensible position to one which is not defensible.

    *I think Ms. Clinton has been an outstanding Secretary of State, so her inability to sell me on her executive qualifications had me underestimating her. I did reject the argument by conservatives and Obama supporters that her ’08 campaign revealed a lack of executive skills. I thought the handful of gaffes were trivial and not representative of the overall campaign but merely critics hyperventilating given their love of drama. I instead thought she ran an excellent campaign and was merely up against a campaign that was an outlier of even successful campaigns. What I failed to find on her resume was any success running a large complex institution, equivalent to Obama’s lack of executive experience beyond his ’08 campaign. So my failure here was to not conclude her capability was the potential equal of Obama’s.

  2. says

    Regarding your point Michael Heath, I think you’re absolutely right that it’s critically important to distinguish between a politician who changed their position because of learning through experience and education, and one who changed their position simply to pander.

  3. says

    Uhm, the reason they don’t buy a house is because *ahem* they don’t have ANY money! Idiot! Lowering the cost of housing won’t help one bit.

  4. Who Knows? says

    Idiot! Lowering the cost of housing won’t help one bit

    The reason people make comments like this is, they don’t have any brains.

  5. krisrhodes says

    Also to note that in this instance, Barack wanted something that would pass congress. No matter what his personal preference would have been, he was willing to try and work with congress for what they would pass. They were able to get the votes for the individual mandate, so he accepted it. Also note that the bill as passed does answer many of his earlier criticisms; a good amount of money is raised to pay for health care for people who can’t afford it.

  6. Michael Heath says

    Aratina Cage:

    Uhm, the reason they don’t buy a house is because *ahem* they don’t have ANY money! Idiot! Lowering the cost of housing won’t help one bit.

    As a Real Estate agent, I’m constantly helping people, mostly young first-time buyers, but also even older folks, purchase a home without having any money to put down. Not only against the price of the house, but also against the closing costs and sometimes needed improvements to eradicate deferred maintenance or missing components (fridge, stove/oven, even washers and dryers). This is only possible for two reasons:
    1) Federal loan programs like but not only the Rural Development loan program. An RD loan requires no up-front principal payment on the loan whereas conventional loans like Fanne Mae conforming loans require 20+% down on the agreed-to price.
    2) Cheap enough home prices, along with homes marketed under their value (usually foreclosures), that these no-wealth people can buy. For example, RD Loans allow a loan balance 103% of the loan value, allowing no-wealth buyers one of two avenues to cover closing costs which can run 5 – 11% of the agreed-to price. First is the ability to borrow slightly over 100% of the appraised value, not necessarily equal to the agreed-to price, which also allows them to borrow funds to make much-needed improvements if the difference between the appraisal and agreed-to price is wide enough, which it often is – especially with foreclosures which generally have the most need for improvements.

    These loans also allow sellers to cover their closing costs, RD Loans IIRC is up to 3%, so even non-foreclosure sales can see a private seller offering concessions to a buyer. In fact I did this very deal Friday.

    Given I’m a bit of quant jock, I also provide many of clients budgeting services where we’re able to significantly reduce their monthly pay-outs when they move from being a renter to a home-owner. In spite of my usually putting in a ‘4% – 6% of price’ bogey into these budgets to cover annual maintenance, twice that of the normal home-owner in price categories above this no-wealth price category.

  7. Nemo says

    That’s not the same as Romney, it’s the reverse.

    Anyway, I agreed with ’08 Obama. I was really disappointed when he flipped on this.

  8. jeevmon says

    In his memorable speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, Stephen Colbert praised then-President George W. Bush as “believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday.” It was not intended as a compliment.

    Obama is not nearly as allergic to saying things like “I was wrong” or “I changed my mind” as other politicians, and that’s a good thing. Conservatism, particularly the kind of Fox News/ talk radio/ Tea Party amplified conservatism that predominates today is profoundly against ever changing one’s mind. It’s not just the normal conservative skepticism of the value of change, but a total opposition to the idea of compromising principle in any form. Whether their belief in eternal, unalterable scriptural documents (whether the Bible or the Constitution) is a result or a cause of their allergy to changing one’s opinion is kind of a chicken-and-egg question, but they do dovetail nicely.

    That’s why Romney is going through all kinds of rhetorical gymnastics and obfuscations – he cleary signed a law containing an individual mandate, and endorsed that as a tool for expanding coverage on a national level, to the point of touting his having passed it as a reason to vote for him for President back in 2008. He’s now trying to pretend that all that didn’t happen so he can boost his appeal among the rabid Obama-haters who have to show up to the polls in droves for him to have a chance in the general. The thing is, to those who are not rabid Obama-haters, it looks like Romney is running like hell from the only positive thing he ever did in elected office. Which then raises the question – why vote for him?

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