The Corner

Is Pawlenty a Big Government, Insurance Mandate Enthusiast?

Last night, candidates were criticizing each other left and right, but a couple of Michele Bachmann’s criticisms targeting Tim Pawlenty jumped out at me. “He praised and wanted to require Minnesotans to purchase the unconstitutional individual mandate in health care and he said the era of small government is over,” Bachmann said.

For whatever it’s worth, when Tim Pawlenty stopped by NR a few months ago, he was was asked precisely about his former comment that he was “open to” an individual mandate. Here’s how Pawlenty responded:

“I was presented formally with recommendations from commissions [in 2004 and in 2008] who looked at all this stuff and I rejected my own commission’s recommendations because at least one time, and maybe more than once they had an individual mandate in it,” Pawlenty tells National Review Online.

“[I] kicked the recommendations out within days, I think, of the recommendations coming forward,” he adds.

Asked why he said he was “open” to the individual mandate in 2006, if he had rejected it in 2004, Pawlenty stressed that didn’t want to tell the commissions what conclusions to come to.

“Because when I had study commissions, and people said are you going to predetermine the outcome, I generally said no, they can study whatever they want. That doesn’t mean I’m going to embrace what they did,” Pawlenty says.

In regard to the second claim, that Pawlenty had said “the era of small government is over,” I looked into that a few weeks ago in this piece. The short version: Pawlenty claims he was alluding to a David Brooks column when he made those comments, and not speaking about his own views.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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