Wall Street Journal, Grace-Marie Turner: “Rick Santorum went for the jugular in Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, exposing Mitt Romney’s weak and contradictory defense of his Massachusetts health-reform law. Mr. Santorum attacked Mr. Romney’s claim that the individual mandate affects only ‘the 8% of people who didn’t have insurance.’ Mr. Romney insisted that ‘92% of the people in my state had insurance before our plan went in place. And nothing changes for them.’ Mr. Santorum blasted back that ‘what Governor Romney said is just factually incorrect,’ because the mandate affects 100% of the residents who are forced to buy health insurance ‘as a condition of breathing in Massachusetts.'” And that was a salient point.

Romney tried to say it only affected 8%. No, it affects everybody in Massachusetts, everybody had to. “In an earlier debate, Newt Gingrich underscored the point when he described a Massachusetts couple fined $3,000 by the state.” Now, listen to this. I remember this, but this is true. This is factually correct. “Newt Gingrich underscored the point when he described a Massachusetts couple fined $3,000 by the state. They had health insurance, but it didn’t meet the state’s specifications. Lauren and Nick Destito had owned a tree and landscaping business for 25 years before the economy collapsed in 2008. They were forced to declare bankruptcy but still tried to abide by the state’s health-insurance mandate, purchasing a policy that cost them $750 a month.”

They still tried to abide by state law while filing for bankruptcy. “No dice — according to a government official, the amount of health insurance they can afford is determined ‘not, unfortunately, from your perspective but from the state agency’s view.'” You don’t get to determine what policy you buy based on what you think you can afford. You have to buy what we at the state tell you. “After garnering national attention for their plight, the couple won on appeal. Mr. Romney’s attempt to contrast his plan with Obamacare wasn’t convincing. ‘I don’t like the Obama plan,’ he said in Thursday’s debate. ‘His plan cuts Medicare by $500 billion. We didn’t, of course, touch anything like that. He raises taxes by $500 billion. We didn’t do that.’

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