Quote of the Day

“New Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is fluent in Chinese. In a short period of time the Republicans have come quite a long way. The last Republican president wasn’t even fluent in English.” –David Letterman

Jon Huntsman Also Considered An Individual Mandate

Until recently, support for an individual mandate to purchase health insurance was the dominant Republican idea. As I pointed out a few days ago, Republicans including Mitt Romney, Mitch Daniels, and Newt Gingrich are now becoming embarrassed by having to flip-flop on their former health care positions. Add Jon Huntsman to the list:

… Huntsman was “suggesting Utah should mandate health coverage for residents,” according to a July 12, 2007, Salt Lake City Weekly piece.

An August 11 Salt Lake Tribune story described the governor’s ambitious reform this way: “John T. Nielsen, who is working with the Governor’s Office in spearheading legislation for the plan, would mandate that all Utahn have health insurance through a nonprofit exchange that would facilitate the purchase of insurance.”

In his 2007 state of the state address, Huntsman pressed for at least a mandate on insuring children. “In addition to the children, there are hundreds of thousands of uninsured adults,” he said.

Reading the full report, Huntsman did appear to be ambivalent regarding mandates, but he did consider their use in a conservative state. It wasn’t until this was on the verge of being passed by a Democratic administration that mandates became an unthinkable intrusion upon individual liberty by hypocritical Republican politicians.

Republicans Having Problems With Their Flip-Flopping On Health Care Reform

Republican presidential candidates continue to have problems with inconsistent arguments on health care issues. Republicans attacked the Affordable Care Act  despite having previously supported the major components of what was proposed in the law, including the individual mandate. Mitt Romney has had the most problems here, having passed a health care reform plan in Massachusetts which was very similar to the Affordable Care Act.  Of course support for the individual mandate was widely supported by Republicans until just before the final vote on the Affordable Care Act, and Romney is not the only Republican who  will have problems attacking Obama’s policies.

Mitch Daniels is the latest potential Republican candidate to face problems with past support for the individual mandate. The October 23, 2003, South Bend Tribune said this in an article on Daniels:

The candidate said he favors a universal health care system that would move away from employee-based health policies and make it mandatory for all Americans to have health insurance.

Daniels envisioned one scenario in which residents could certify their coverage when paying income taxes and receive a tax exemption that would cover the cost.

“We really have to have universal coverage,” Daniels said.

There were other areas where Daniels supported policies similar to Obama’s, while others where they were quite different:

In the winter of 2005, Daniels pushed a bill that eliminating the requirements that insurance companies cover some pre-existing conditions for consumers purchasing individual policies. His logic was that pared down plans would be cheaper plans. And being able to purchase even modest insurance would be better then being unable to afford any insurance.

Newt Gingrich continues to have problems with fellow Republicans since his recent interview on Meet the Press where he supported the individual mandate and opposed the GOP budget plan which would end Medicare in its current form. Since Sunday Gingrich has been flip-flopping all over the place on both issues and it is no longer clear what position he is attempting to take. For example, today Gingrich is now claiming that he wasn’t talking about the Ryan plan. It is hard to imagine any other interpretation for what he said.

Update: Jon Huntsman Also Considered An Individual Mandate

A Shrinking Tent

The few remaining members of a small political organization called the Republican Party appear determined to shrink their numbers even further. Once one of two major political parties back in the days when the United States had a two-party political system, the Republicans have been highly successful at shrinking their numbers by driving out all who do not share a set of extremist, far right-wing views. Olympia Snowe, one of only three Republican Senators from the northeast, wrote of this phenomenon in an op-ed in The New York Times while Jon Huntsman, the Republican governor of Utah, warned the Republicans that they are on the wrong path in an interview with ABC News.

Michigan Republicans have helped to prove that the moderate Republicans are right their concerns about the direction the GOP is moving in:

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s appearance at a Michigan county Republican Party event was scrapped this week after the county chairwoman said that hosting the moderate Utah governor would mean abandoning the party’s conservative principles.

Kent County Republican Party Chairwoman Joanne Voorhees abruptly canceled the party fundraiser scheduled for Saturday.

“The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots. Unfortunately, by holding an event with Governor Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite,” Voorhees wrote in an e-mail quoted in The Grand Rapids Press .

Voorhees did not specify which issues she felt were contrary to the party’s principles and did not return messages left at the party headquarters and on her cell phone.

The ABC News report on their interview with Huntsman pointed out his heresy:

In November, Huntsman won re-election with 78 percent of the vote in Utah, one of the most solidly Republican states in the country and one of the most conservative, but he is an unconventional Republican, staking out moderate positions on environmental issues like climate change and favoring gay rights.

Denying the scientific consensus on global warming and opposing the rights of homosexuals have become major litmus tests for remaining in the Republican Party. Basically if you accept modern science or if you are not a homophobic bigot the GOP no longer has room for you in their tiny tent.

Two recent polls by The Washington Post and NBC News/The Wall Street Journal show identification as Republicans down to twenty-one percent and twenty-percent. Republican Senator John Cornyn noted the current state of the Republican Party when he spoke of how he believes the GOP will one day regain their status as a national party. It is not clear how they will become a national party by excluding everyone who does not share a narrow set of extremist views.

Candidates And Support For Their Running Mate

There has been a lot of attention paid to John McCain’s statement on This Week that he would not necessarily support Sarah Palin if she runs for president in 2012. CNN describes the exchange:

Sen. John McCain said Sunday he would not necessarily support his former running mate if she chose to run for president.

Speaking to ABC’s “This Week,” McCain was asked whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin could count on his support.

“I can’t say something like that. We’ve got some great other young governors. I think you’re going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party,” he said.

He then mentioned governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Jon Huntsman of Utah.

McCain said he has “the greatest appreciation for Gov. Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them.”

“She invigorated our campaign” against Barack Obama for the presidency, he said.

McCain was pressed on why he can’t promise support for the woman who, just months ago, he named as the second best person to lead the nation.

“Have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her and my view of her viability, but at this stage, again … my corpse is still warm, you know?” he replied.

While it is hard to see anyone in their right mind endorsing this candidate, it is hardly shocking that a candidate might not support their former running mate. Al Gore did not support Joe Lieberman in 2004. John Kerry did not endorse John Edwards in 2008.

While ideally a vice presidential choice should be for someone qualified to be president, other political factors are often involved–far more in the case of Palin than in general. Even should the vice presidential candidate be qualified to be president, a presidential candidate might balance the ticket with a running mate with views different from their own. Even if Palin had the intellectual qualifications to be president, it might also make sense that McCain would prefer someone from a different wing of  the party to be the 2012 candidate as opposed to his running mate.