During a report on Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care proposal, CNN's Betty Nguyen aired Mitt Romney's attack on the plan, but claimed that, "like Clinton, he'd mandate health insurance." But in announcing his national health reform plan in August, Romney declined to support mandates in what was reportedly a "significant" departure "from the universal health care measure that he helped forge as governor of Massachusetts."
While reporting on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) new health care proposal on the September 17 edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Betty Nguyen uncritically aired Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's attack on Clinton's plan but claimed that, "like Clinton, he'd mandate health insurance." In fact, while Romney signed a bill in Massachusetts that mandates health insurance for all, an August 24 New York Times article reported that Romney's health care proposal "departs significantly from the universal health care measure that he helped forge as governor of Massachusetts, reflecting the conservative audience he must now appeal to in order to win the Republican presidential nomination."
Additionally, Nguyen uncritically aired Romney's claim that his health care plan and Clinton's are "as different as night and day," because, among other reasons, "[h]er plan raises taxes; mine does not raise taxes." Nguyen did not report that Clinton has said her proposal will "provide a net tax cut for American taxpayers." According to the summary of Clinton's health care plan:
The plan offers tens of millions of Americans a new tax credit to make premiums affordable -- which more than offsets the increased revenues from the Plan's provisions to limit the employer tax exclusion for health care and discontinue portions of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000. Thus, the plan provides a net tax cut for American taxpayers.
At no point in her report did Nguyen note that Clinton's plan would offer a "net tax cut for American taxpayers," nor did she provide evidence that Clinton's description of her plan is inaccurate.
Nguyen also aired a video clip of Clinton saying, "I believe everyone -- every man, woman and child -- should have quality, affordable health care in America," after which she stated, "Republican Mitt Romney gave his reaction before Senator Clinton even spoke." Nguyen then uncritically aired Romney's criticism, concluding, "[L]ike Clinton, he'd mandate health insurance." Even though Romney did support mandates when he was governor of Massachusetts, he has rejected mandates at the national level. USA Today reported in a July 5, 2005, article:
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney re-ignited that debate last month when he announced a plan to expand health coverage to all the state's residents, with a caveat that those who don't buy coverage could face a penalty.
"We can't have as a nation 40 million people -- or, in my state, half a million -- saying, 'I don't have insurance, and if I get sick, I want someone else to pay,' " says Romney, a Republican who says he might run for president in 2008.
But in announcing his national health reform plan in August, Romney declined to support mandates, which the Times noted was a "significant" departure "from the universal health care measure that he helped forge as governor of Massachusetts." The August 24 Times article continued:
The Massachusetts plan, which went into effect this year and is still being watched closely to see how it will fare, was Mr. Romney's signal legislative accomplishment as governor but has elements that trouble many conservatives, most notably a mandate that everyone who can afford it must buy health insurance or face penalties.
Mr. Romney often promotes his health care bill in Massachusetts on the campaign trail, holding it up as a private-market-based solution to the problem of the uninsured, as opposed to "socialized medicine," or "Hillary-care," as he often says. But he almost never mentions the requirement that individuals buy coverage.
At no point in her report did Nguyen note Romney's changed position on health care mandates.
From the 3 p.m. ET hour of the September 17 edition of CNN Newsroom:
NGUYEN: Hillary Clinton announced today that if Americans elect her president, she'll mandate universal health care. Unveiling her plan in Iowa, Senator Clinton said she learned from the health care effort that bombed when she was first lady. So, her new plan is not an overhaul as such, but a pledge of federal subsidies within the current system. Now, the goal? No more uninsured. There are 47 million today.
CLINTON [video clip]: I believe everyone -- every man, woman, and child -- should have quality, affordable health care in America. We should do it. We should do it, because, in this new economy, when people move jobs more than ever before, their health insurance should move with them.
NGUYEN: Republican Mitt Romney gave his reaction before Senator Clinton even spoke, and he derided the Clinton plan as "Hillarycare" and called it bad medicine inspired by European bureaucracies. Here is what he had to say today in New York.
ROMNEY [video clip]: Her plan is crafted by Washington; mine is crafted by individual states. Her plan has government insurance; mine has private insurance. Her plan raises taxes; mine does not raise taxes. As a matter of fact, because all medical expenses are tax deductible under my plan, mine actually lowers the cost of taxes for our people. So, it's as different as night and day.
NGUYEN: Romney calls his plan a conservative but, like Clinton, he'd mandate health insurance.