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Santorum Blasts Romney for 2009 Op-Ed on Individual Mandate Santorum Blasts Romney for 2009 Op-Ed on Individual Mandate

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field

CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum Blasts Romney for 2009 Op-Ed on Individual Mandate

Candidate says rival should own up to his health care plan.

BLUE ASH, Ohio - Rick Santorum on Saturday sharpened his attacks over Mitt Romney support for an individual health insurance mandate, citing Romney's support for an individual mandate in a 2009 newspaper op-ed to argue he is unqualified to take on President Obama over health care.

"Governor Romney has been saying throughout the course of this campaign, 'Oh, I never recommended that they adopt my program in Massachusetts for an individual federal mandate, oh, I never did that,'" Santorum told the crowd of about 250 people.

 

"Oh yes, he did. In a 2009 USA Today op-ed he recommended, he made suggestions to President Obama including the individual mandate and taxing people who don't buy insurance. That is the individual mandate."

In the op-ed, Romney wrote, "We established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages 'free riders' to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn't cost the government a single dollar."

Santorum suggested that Romney should make some sort of public atonement for his state's health care plan. "You know, its bad enough that he recommended it. It's worse that he wouldn't come clean with the people in this primary that he did it," Santorum said.

 

Romney has explained that he supported an individual mandate for Massachusetts, but he has repeatedly stressed that he does not back a national mandate.

The issue prompted conservative commentator Erick Erickson to write on his RedState.com blog: "Had Michigan not been as close, the Democrats would have waited to spring this on us in the general election ... Friends, if Mitt Romney is the nominee, we will be unable to fight Obama on an issue that 60 percent of Americans agree with us on."

Romney’s campaign disputed Santorum’s charges and tried to pin the blame on the former Pennsylvania senator for the health care law.

"Senator Santorum won’t admit it, but he had a hand in Obamacare becoming law when he made [Republican-turned-Democrat] Arlen Specter the critical 60th vote for Obama in the Senate," spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. "Over the last several years, Governor Romney has said many times, in many different formats, that his health care reform plan was the right model for Massachusetts, and that it should not be used as a one-size-fits-all national health insurance plan. Governor Romney is a federalist and has always said that states should be free to come up with their own health care reforms, whether they want to borrow ideas from Massachusetts or not."

 

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