Between Governor Romney’s success with universal healthcare in Massachusetts, the current right-wing Republican position on “Obamacare” and the individual mandate, and the Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday, the Romney campaign is the very definition of being between a rock and a hard place.
What could they do but move on?
As most everyone should know by now, one of the greatest ironies of this partisan campaign season is that Obamacare was modeled on Romneycare in Massachusetts. As Senator Santorum put it bluntly during the primaries: Romney, he said, “is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama” because he is the intellectual godfather of the most consequential act of the Obama presidency.
Despite this, on Thursday Governor Romney was forced to stand in front of the Capitol and promise to fight against his very own big idea using the argument against big government; what works for states, not only not work federally, but that the federal government has no right to encroach upon the behaviour of individual states.
Here is part of that statement:
This is now a time for the American People to make a choice. You can choose whether to have a larger and larger government making intrusions into your life…Or whether instead you want to return to a time where Americans have their own choice in health care…If we want to get rid of Obama care, we are going to have to replace President Obama
Really, Romney should be able to point with pride to what he achieved in Massachusetts.
To date, 99% of the state’s residents have health insurance, up from around 90% before healthcare reform; At least 24% of low income residents did not have health insurance prior to the 2006 law, according to the Urban Institute, and today, just 8% of low income adults do not have healthcare coverage. Overall, the number of uninsured, which was estimated to be as high as 650,000, more than the population of the city of Boston, has been wiped out.
And he could, as recently as 2009:
Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages free riders to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass on their medical costs to others.
Just for reference, this is what President Obama said last week:
People who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.
Sounds familiar. But what is Romney to do now? Since his party is in the grip of its far right base (some Tea Party members have already called for Justice Roberts to be impeached or to step down), to them he has to vow to work for its repeal. To the independents he has to offer real solutions. And then he has to move on.
Given this logic, I was unsurprised when I read that the Romney campaign had declared a truce on Obamacare.
While Romney’s campaign reportedly raised $300,000 in the first hour after the ruling was announced, the Supreme Court decision is looking more and more like a political setback for conservatives in general, and Romney — given his history — in particular.
To avoid being painted as an etch-a-sketch flip-flopper, the best bet for Romney’s campaign is to keep schtum.
And in fact, while the presidential hopeful has been totally silent since Thursday, his senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, went on MSNBC yesterday, only to end up agreeing with the Obama campaign’s spin that, even though the Supreme Court declared the individual mandate a tax, it is still really a penalty.
So, it seems, a ceasefire has been declared. Good thing too. Because until the administration makes sure that Americans — regular citizens and media commentators alike — understand the benefits and requirements, I’m not sure I could deal with any more incorrect, incoherent and bumbling-ly-partisan arguments.
- “Tax” vs. “penalty” debate hurts both Obama and Romney – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- Romney team agrees with Obama: Individual mandate not a tax (thehill.com)
- Romney Campaign Declares a Truce on Obamacare (theatlantic.com)
- Romney’s Supreme Burden (nytimes.com)