There is a specter haunting the putative presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. Even though he may otherwise be the strongest candidate in a weak Republican field, the ghost of Romneycare stands as a menace.
Obamacare is the single greatest threat to our freedom raised so far by the Obama administration. Millions, probably billions, of dollars are being spent right now by the state and federal governments to implement it, and by business to comply with it. Someone who does this kind of work for a living really ought to write a story about it.
Republicans understand the threat of Obamacare and Americans want it repealed. Democrats framed the statute to take full effect only in 2014, after the next election. Republicans seek a standard bearer who can stand as an effective opponent of the monstrous law before it is too late to undo it.
As the man who presided over the adoption of the Massachusetts health reform plan, Governor Romney is particularly poorly positioned to be such a standard bearer. Our friend Hugh Hewitt briefly addressed Governor Romney’s health care program at pages 150-153 of his highly complimentary 2007 book A Mormon in the White House? Hugh quoted Romney describing the program as one in which “we can get everybody else insured without spending any more money…Now that was the kind of rigorous analysis that you follow and that I followed in consulting. It’s data. It’s analysis.”
Is it unduly cynical to suggest that Governor Romney signed off on Romneycare in order to have a big bipartisan policy accomplishment to claim when he moved on to run for president in 2008 after serving one term as governor? If things worked out as planned, he would have ascended to higher office before the house of cards began to collapse back home.
Governor Romney devoted an unsatisfactory chapter to the Massachusetts health care legislation in No Apology. Those in search of “data” and “analysis” on the predictable consequences of Romneycare in Massachusetts may want to take a look at the devastating Wall Street Journal editorial “Obama’s running mate.”
The Journal editorial is timed to coincide with Governor Romney’s big speech on health care this afternoon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center. The speech is advertised as one in which Romney will advocate the repeal and replacement of Obamacare with “reforms that lower costs and empower states to craft their own health care solutions.”
Speaking on its own behalf, the University of Michigan wants it understood that “the use of our facility by Gov. Romney does not constitute endorsement of the content of his speech nor of his potential candidacy by the U-M Health System or the University of Michigan. As a public institution, the University of Michigan cannot endorse candidates.” Thanks for clearing that up.
Coincidentally, it was only a year ago this week that President Obama spoke at the University of Michigan commencement ceremony. I don’t recall that the university issued a statement distancing itself from Obama at that time. On the contrary, in awarding him an honorary doctor of laws degree at commencement prior to his speech, the university saluted Obama for his accomplishments and his leadership. (Video here.) Would it be rash to draw an inference?
In any event, I doubt that Governor Romney will be holding up the Massachusetts health care legislation as an exhibit supporting his prospective candidacy. He could even repudiate it. Yet Governor Romney has not yet made this particular calculation. Perhaps he feels he has no choice; his reputation as a flip-flopper may be deemed to preclude this option. Perhaps he really believes in Romneycare, though I doubt it. More likely he believes he simply can’t repudiate the legislative centerpiece of his one term in office. It’s almost enough to make you cynical about politicians.
Last year the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Wallsten documented one of Romney’s defenses of Romneycare in “Romney dogged by a tale of two health plans” The New York Times’s Kevin Sack did likewise in “Mitt Romney on health care: A particular spin.”
Wallsten quoted a Democratic MIT economist whom Wallsten credits with assisting the design of Romneycare: “If any one person in the world deserves credit for where we are now [with the passage of the new federal law], it’s Mitt Romney. He designed the structure of the federal bill.” Sack quoted Romney himself to almost equally devastating effect: “Whether you like what we did or think it stinks to high heaven, the point is we solved it at our level.” Really?
He then compared the two plans: “I like the things that are similar, I don’t like the things that are different, and that’s why I vehemently oppose Obamacare.” It’s not exactly a rallying cry.
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