Now that Carly Fiorina has emerged as a top-six candidate (at worst) for the GOP nomination, she will receive serious scrutiny. The little scrutiny she has received to date focuses on her record as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
That record is relevant to her candidacy. For me, however, her past positions on the major issues are more important. Has she been a consistent, hard-line conservative?
The early returns aren’t good for Fiornia. In a 2013 interview, she expressed support for an individual mandate which would require folks to purchase high-deductible “catastrophic care” insurance plans and use federal dollars to subsidize state-based high-risk pools to provide care for those who otherwise cannot afford it.
It’s important to note that such a requirement is very different from Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires folks the purchase of plans that cover just about everything. Healthy young people, who only really need insurance against major unexpected health events, must pay high premiums for broad coverage. People who can’t have children must purchase plans that cover child birth.
Obamacare actually undermines the purchase of the kind of plan to which, I think, Fiorina wanted the mandate to apply. Such plans aren’t Obamacare compliant and have become very difficult to find.
It is also true that Fiorina’s position is similar to that advanced some years back by the Heritage Foundation. I believe, however, that Heritage had moved away from that position by 2013.
In any event, the individual mandate is widely despised by conservatives. So is this the beginning of the end for Fiorina?
I don’t assume so. Mitt Romney supported Heritage’s individual mandate and received the 2012 nomination. This isn’t 2012, to be sure. Anti-establishment sentiment seems considerably stronger this time around. On the other hand, the individual mandate may not be the front-burner issue it was back then, when the Supreme Court narrowly upheld it.
There are more choices for conservatives in this cycle than in the last, but purity remains elusive. Trump is very far from ideologically pure. Bush deviates on immigration and common core. Rubio seems to deviate only on immigration, but to a huge extent on that vital issue. Carson opposed military intervention in Afghanistan. Among the top contenders, only Cruz appears never to have left his right flank unattended.
My sense is that Fiorina’s support of an individual mandate is strike one. Her record at Hewlett-Packard might or might not turn into strike two; it depends on how that argument goes.
Will there be more ideological strikes? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised.