Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Proof - The Heritage Foundation Flip Flop on ObamaCare. 3 October '11
During this new session - the Supreme Court is slated to hear a number of very important cases - but one in particular outweighs all the others.
And that's the constitutionality of President Obama's Affordable Care Act - or as Republicans endearingly refer to it - Obamacare.
The issue at hand is whether or not the individual mandate - the provision that requires most everybody to purchase health insurance - is or is not constitutional.
As in - can the government force someone to buy health insurance?
According to the Center for American Progress - if all nine justices remain consistent in how they've ruled on similar cases - then there are at least 7 votes on the high court in favor of President Obama.
Then again - this one of the most highly politicized Supreme Courts in the history of this nation - and they will rule right smack dab in the middle of an election season - and Justice Clarence Thomas's wife has made over 150,000 bucks lobbying to repeal health care reform, and Scalia goes duck hunting with Cheney who hates Obama, and Alito has essentially called Obama a liar in front of the world during a State of the Union Address - so anything can happen.
But before this Supreme Court showdown kicks off - there's already another showdown underway - this one between the White House and the right-wing think tank - the Heritage Foundation.
Earlier this year - the Heritage Foundation - a thinktank that will likely file a Friend of the Court brief calling for Obamacare to be repealed - gave us a glimpse of their position in a scathing write-up on their website saying:
The law's individual mandate was intended to compel all Americans to enroll in a health plan to lower the nation's uninsured rate. But the law not only fails to accomplish its main goal, it infringes upon Americans' basic constitutional rights...This mandate is unprecedented. It is considered to be the law's most controversial provision.."
Wow. Strong words.
What's curious is that the Heritage Foundation says that the individual mandate is "unprecedented" -and what's curious about that is that Mitt Romney - the Republican who put in place his OWN individual mandate as Governor of Massachusetts - said it was originally a Heritage Foundation idea:
The idea for a health care plan [in Massachusetts] was not mine alone,” Romney explained. “The Heritage Foundation — a great conservative think tank — helped on that. I’m told that Newt Gingrich was one of the very first people who came up with the idea of the individual mandate, did that years and years ago.
It was seen as a conservative idea to say, you know what? People have responsibility for caring for themselves if they can.
Jumping on this discrepancy - last week - White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said this about the the Heritage Foundation's connection with the individual mandate:
A former governor of Massachusetts just said, the other day, ‘The idea for a health care plan in Massachusetts was not mine alone. The Heritage Foundation, a great conservative think tank, helped on that. I’m told that Newt Gingrich, one of the very first people who came up with the idea of an individual mandate, did that years and years ago...
That’s the former governor of Massachusetts describing the individual mandate, and why it’s smart policy, and we certainly agree.
And that's when the Heritage Foundation went nuts - tweeting at Carney:
Mr. Carney, Stop Misrepresenting Heritage's Position on Obamacare!
They then wrote another editorial on their website saying:
For the record, and hopefully for the last time, we would like to make it crystal clear to the White House that we think Obamacare is unconstitutional and very, very unwise.
So...someone isn't telling the truth - and it's either Mitt Romney and the White House...or it's the Heritage Foundation.
Well...luckily for everyone here tonight - I'm going to set the record straight.
I'd like to submit for the record - this piece of evidence - from 1989 - a report written by the Heritage Foundation entitled, "Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans" which goes on to say:
Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seatbelts for their own protection…But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement.
That's seems pretty cut and dry, Heritage Plan, yeah - but in case the jury needs a little more convincing - I'd also like to submit this piece of evidence for the record - from 1992 - another report written by the Heritage Foundation entitled, "The Heritage Consumer Choice Health Plan."
In it - Heritage wrote their plan would:
Require all households to purchase at least a basic package of insurance, unless they are covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or other government health programs.
The report then goes on to say that:.
"...the Heritage plan would institute reforms to smooth the transition to the consumer-based NATIONAL system."
Again - that's a NATIONAL system - not state or local - but a NATIONAL system. Heritage Foundation's words, not mine.
Not only that - Republicans cosponsored two pieces of legislation in November of 1993 that pushed an individual mandate just as Heritage laid out - and when President Bill Clinton produced his own health plan in 1994 - Republicans led by Newt Gingrich offered their counter proposal that included... you guessed it... a Heritage Foundation type of individual mandate.
So why is it that the Heritage Foundation is suddenly declaring that an idea THAT THEY CAME UP WITH is unconstitutional?
It's unlikely that the constitution suddenly changed since 1992.
Could it be just because President Obama proposed it?
I don't want to put words in their mouths... so I'll let Heritage's own spokesperson set the record straight... maybe he has a good explanation:
Dan Holler: This is a state issue. You're confusing state police powers, state powers, with national federal powers.
Thom Hartmann: Actually not. I've got the Heritage Lectures. I actually have the documents that you guys put together. Heritage talking points in '89 they called for a national - a national - mandate. In '92 they called for a national mandate. And when Romney did it they applauded it at the state level.
Dan Holler: Again, the Heritage Foundation's been very clear that the individual mandate at the federal level is unconstitutional. They filed an amicus brief to the Florida court.
Thom Hartmann: They've been clear about that since when?
Dan Holler: That's a great question. I'm not sure.
He's not sure... unfortunately - that's not going to be good enough for a jury. I mean,, you know, they were for it before they were against it. Well, now they're still not for it so you can't do that. Anyway
So it seems to be - the only reason why the Heritage Foundation switched from creating the individual mandate to now claiming that it's UNCONSTITUTIONAL is because Barack Obama decided to take their policy advice.
Looks like the jury has finally reached a verdict... the Heritage Foundation is a flip-flopper!
That's The Big Picture.