Uh oh: Carly Fiorina supported an individual mandate for health coverage in 2013

Dude, it’s over. Unless, that is, someone can find a clip of Trump endorsing a mandate too, in which case that will instantly become the proper populist conservative position on mandates.

She wasn’t endorsing the ObamaCare mandate, her campaign spokesperson tells CNN, she was endorsing a mandate that would force everyone to carry cheaper, high-deductible catastrophic coverage. The point of ObamaCare is to force healthy young adults to buy elaborate plans they don’t really need, thus creating a rich new revenue stream that can help insurers cover expensive treatments for the sick and elderly. The point of Fiorina’s plan is to force people who have the means to pay a small premium to protect themselves from the cost of accidents and serious illnesses, so that the public isn’t stuck with the bill when some of those people inevitably end up in the ER. The cost and ambitions of the two programs are different.

But is the principle different?

“Now there is a requirement for people to take responsibility, which you know most people have insurance,” Cutter said. “So do you agree with the mandate idea? That is a Republican idea, came out of the Heritage Foundation, one of our co-hosts, Newt Gingrich, was behind it. And the ban on preexisting conditions? Do you agree with those two provisions?”

“I actually do agree with those two provisions,” Fiorina said. “And I think Obamacare remains an abomination, and let me tell you why. First of all, I think no one should be denied health care because of pre-existing conditions. And I think there are many more efficient ways we could have dealt with this other than Obamacare.”

“But you are for the responsibility provision?” Cutter, a former top aide on President Obama’s re-election campaign, reiterated. “People have to take responsibility for their own care and you are for the ban on pre-existing conditions?”

“Yes I am,” Fiorina said. “But, but, do not put words in my mouth. I am not for anything that went around either one of those in Obamacare.”

If you oppose the mandate on grounds that the government, especially the federal government, shouldn’t have the power to coerce a citizen into making a purchase, why is Carly’s mandate for catastrophic coverage any more constitutionally pure than Obama’s? Note too that she said this in 2013, a year after the Supreme Court’s ruling that O-Care’s mandate is constitutional as a type of tax. You can spin that in her favor or against her if you like. In her favor: With the Supreme Court having already pronounced the mandate legal, Carly was simply working within the system we now have. A catastrophic coverage mandate would at least be cheaper than ObamaCare’s mandate. Against her: Why would any Republican be talking up mandates when the GOP is trying to build a case for repeal? Acquiescing in the new post-mandate legal regime is precisely what a GOP leader shouldn’t be doing. Think this might come up at the next debate?

If you missed it yesterday at BuzzFeed, go watch Fiorina describe her “great admiration” for Hillary Clinton in 2008. Luckily, other top Republicans in the race, like Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, would never do that.

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