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Romney’s RomneyCare problem just won’t quit

Poor Mitt Romney, just can’t live down his greatest accomplishment.

I know, things are blowing his way, at the moment, SuperTuesday-wise. And when he has the nomination locked up and can start drifting back to the center perhaps he can drop his long, tortured and ultimately hopeless effort to disentangle himself  from his paternity of the Massachusetts universal health care bill that he signed into law and that his former rival (now supporter) Tim Pawlenty once dubbed ObamneyCare.

Meanwhile, over the last few days, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski scrounged up yet more evidence of both the similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare, but also of the fact that during 2009, Romney repeatedly urged Obama to model the national plan on the Massachusetts law.

First Kaczynski dredged up this 2009 USA Today op-ed, signed by Romney urging Obama to follow the Massachusetts model, especially including the hated individual mandate. From the op-ed:

“Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn’t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn’t cost the government a single dollar.”

(Note that “tax penalty” bit. In order to avoid imposing a “fine” on those who try to free-ride, RomneyCare disguised the fine by calling it a “tax penalty.” Obama used the same device, which will be important when the constitutional challenge to the mandate comes before the Supreme Court.)

Then this morning, Kaczynski posted three videos of Romney on TV in 2009 urging Obama to follow the RomneyCare model. If you watch the clips, you’ll note that Romney’s main criticism of the Obama bill that was then still taking shape in Congress was that it was still expected to have a “public option,” which Romney said would lead to socialized medicine. Well, much to the disappointment of many liberals, Obama did drop the public option.

Now, of course, Romney says the Obama program is such a devastating assault on freedom that he, as president, will block its implementation by executive order while working to get it completely repealed.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Tom Clark on 03/05/2012 - 02:21 pm.

    The only way Romney can win over conservatives now

    would be to pick Rush Limbaugh as his VP. Which, obviously, has a down side.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/05/2012 - 02:32 pm.

    Sorry, I tried to serve the public interest. Mea Culpa…

    Proof, I suppose that it’s difficult to pander to the right (or the left, but in this instance, it’s the right that’s in play) and remain logically consistent. Having to disavow what ought to be seen as one’s singular achievement in terms of political leadership is symptomatic of much of what’s wrong with the current political landscape. Personally, having just endured yet another episode with our dysfunctional health care system, a “public option” remains among my fondest fantasies. Unfortunately, by the time that fantasy becomes reality, I’ll be long past caring…

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/05/2012 - 02:48 pm.

    Is it too hard to even recall that Romney, in 2008, was THE conservative candidate of the Republican party. That was AFTER his stint as the Romney-care governor of Massachusetts.

    What a small, mean corner the Republican party has painted itself into.

    By the way, as a blast from the past from the Cato Institute (July 2007):


    That said, the Massachusetts health plan enacted in 2006, as Stuart Altman neatly put it, “is not a typical Massachusetts-Taxachusetts, oh-justcrazy-liberal plan.” Instead, the plan represents a hybrid approach, incorporating ideas from across the political spectrum. The plan was promoted by a moderately conservative Republican governor with national political aspirations and enacted by a liberal Democratic House and Senate. Groups from across the political spectrum, from the Heritage Foundation on the right to Families USA on the left, supported the plan.

    (end quote)

  4. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 03/05/2012 - 08:20 pm.

    To boldly go where he had already been before

    Romney’s problem is that he expects us to forget from one moment to the next what he has said. He seems to be running for the presidency of Being There.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/06/2012 - 09:10 am.

    This is why the right is collapsing

    When it reaches the point that a candidate has to distance him or herself from one of their best public policy achievements, politics becomes incoherent, and so does the party that demands irrational policy. The fact that “Romnycare” is a liability, is the best evidence that the Republican party is actually unraveling. It’ll be kind of like the Soviet Union, it’ll look huge and strong and then bam, it’ll be in ruins.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/06/2012 - 09:33 am.


    that you would use the old soviet union for your analogy. It’s memories of the old soviet union and their mandatory collectivism that motivates the right to keep up the fight. It’s pathetic to think that I risked my life in a steel tube for eight years so our people would still enjoy the blessings of liberty and now we have domestic politicians and their supporters being more successful than the soviets ever were.

  7. Submitted by William Gleason on 03/06/2012 - 10:51 am.

    Should Romney be nominated

    one of the best things that will happen may be an extended discussion about health care in the US. It will be rather difficult for Romney to dodge his past activities in this area as earlier commenters have pointed out. The CATO quote is especially telling.

    Sometimes the only way to get Republicans to do the right thing is to just keep pounding away at them until, eventually, even their own base gets it. Certainly American business is severely handicapped in competing with foreign countries because of the terrible burden of costs for our system. The current kabuki in Minnesota on health care exchanges is pathetic, especially since the sainted Tim Pawlenty supported such exchanges.

    Finally time to join the rest of the (civilized) world with a rational health care system and a way to pay for it?

  8. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 03/06/2012 - 12:31 pm.

    Romney actually copied the MassPlan from European countries

    like Switzerland and Norway — with ONE glaring and costly omission, the mechanism by which they spend about half per person on medical care than we do. The difference is that, in Europe, insurance companies are not allowed to manage the system to their own advantage as they do here. When you are sick, you see your doctor. No insurer can refuse to insure you or refuse to pay a claim.

    The Swiss government studies medical costs each year and allows price increases only when a provider or drug or devices manufacturer can truly justify them.

    The insurance companies are told what they can charge for premiums over the coming year. It is enough to cover expenses, but not to reap giant profits (all insurers must be non-profits).

    The insurance exchange includes the names of all insurers and patients are able to choose from among them on the basis of customer service only.

    The government helps those who cannot afford to pay the premium without financial assistance.

    Obama’s mistake was to copy Massachusetts instead of Switzerland, et al. Massachusetts has had horrendous cost overruns and the US plan probably will, too, but it does help patients.

  9. Submitted by Rolf Westgard on 03/07/2012 - 05:12 am.

    Mandatory health insurance is logical

    When you own and operate an auto, you are required to carry liability insurance. It’s obvious that you need to have some financial responsibility toward the family of the breadwinner that you accidentally injure or kill.
    What is so hard to understand about Romney’s statement: “encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.”

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/08/2012 - 06:21 pm.

      This assumes

      that the Radical Right wants ANY form of public health care.
      If ALL public health care is eliminated, there will be no free riders.
      Get ready to put an unlimited hold on your credit card before you can get into an emergency room, and if you can’t put up a bond sufficient to cover all possible costs, then you won’t get any medical care.
      Of course, more people will die younger after expensive illnesses that impoverish their families, but that’s the breaks. They didn’t have the planning to be born rich.

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