The Washington Post has finally found something to like about Mitt Romney, but only in the context of using it against him. Post writer Perry Bacon, Jr. praises the Massachusetts health insurance plan that Romney helped enact, which requires all state residents to have health insurance. However, the article isn’t really about the health care plan, it’s about how Romney “plays down [his] role in [the] law.”
The Post’s report is frivolous at several levels. First, to the extent Romney does not tout the health insurance law because it’s not popular among many conservatives, why is this a story? Since when do presidential candidates emphasize past positions they’ve taken that are not popular with the people whose votes they need. We can take this Post story seriously when we see the one about how Hillary Clinton is failing to tout her vote to go to war in Iraq.
Second, while not making the health care plan the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney is not avoiding the topic either. I’ve heard him speak about it. He did so in his speech before the National Review’s conservative summit, for example.
Third, unlike Hillary Clinton and her war vote and John McCain with McCain-Feingold, Romney has a good reason (beyond politics, which is reason enough) not to emphasize the Massachusetts insurance ocverage plan — it’s not entirely his. As the Post acknowledges towards the end of the piece, “the Democratic legislature added many of its own ideas to the final law.” In fact, Romney vetoed a key provision imposing fees on employers who do not offer health insurance to their workers, but his veto was overriden. Romney is clearly justified in not over-identifying with a plan that contains key components imposed by Democrats.
Still, it’s nice that the Post gives the plan such high marks, although this kind of editorializing might be better placed in the editorial or op-ed page.
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