Jewish World Review August 11, 2011 / 11 Menachem-Av, 5771
Mitt, Apologize for RomneyCare --- or Forget the Nomination
By Larry Elder
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wants to be president. And a plurality of Republican voters want him to be president. Recent polls show Republican nominee Romney beating President Barack Obama. Three big issues, however, threaten to implode the GOP front-runner's nomination, let alone general election victory: RomneyCare, RomneyCare and RomneyCare.
Few things unite the tea party, the GOP caucus/primary activists and the knock-on-doors, hang-the-signs, ring-the-phone volunteers more than their universal hatred of ObamaCare. Most Americans want ObamaCare repealed, some because it lacks a "public option." But the tea party-like Republicans — and even regular Republicans — overwhelmingly support ObamaCare repeal. It is up there with the worst legislation ever signed.
Eighty-five percent of Americans already have health insurance, and 89 percent of Americans call their own health care quality at least "satisfactory." But this wasn't good enough. So ObamaCare places the entire system under the command and control of the federal government. ObamaCare forces people to buy from a nominally private vendor, who by government fiat must accept people with pre-existing illnesses. It rejects federalism, the quaint notion that a limited number of duties and responsibilities belong to the federal government — the rest belong to the people and to the states.
Obama brags that he based ObamaCare on RomneyCare. This does two things. First, assuming Romney wins the nomination, it deflates ObamaCare —including its Massachusetts-like mandate — as a campaign issue. Second, it forces Romney to either a) admit that RomneyCare "works," which would allow Obama to question why such a wonderful idea cannot serve as a role model for the other 49, or b) pronounce his signature issue as governor a failure, with Obama, of course, promising to do better with ObamaCare than the lousy job Romney did implementing the conceptually sound RomneyCare.
So how does Romney deal with this?
Romney had a chance to make lemonade. He gave an important and closely watched speech on RomneyCare early in the campaign. Would he admit RomneyCare's dramatic cost overruns and concede that it failed to meet his goals of emergency room use reduction, health care cost containment and universal coverage? Would he admit that a growing number of Massachusetts' doctors complain about inadequate reimbursement and that most primary-care physicians refuse to accept new patients? Would he acknowledge that, but for hundreds of millions in federal Medicaid money, RomneyCare's out-of-control rising costs would likely bankrupt his state?
No. He defended RomneyCare. Vigorously.
Romney called it "a state solution to a state problem" yet promised to work to repeal ObamaCare — not because it is necessarily unworkable or contains an offensive mandate under threat of "fines." No, Romney opposes ObamaCare as "a power grab by the federal government to put in place a one-size-fits-all plan across the nation." More incredibly, Romney says, "(RomneyCare) was right for the people of my state"!?
He blew it. Here's what Romney should have said:
"Let me say this about what folks call RomneyCare, the so-called model for ObamaCare. Not only is ObamaCare an assault on the Constitution, an assault on the notion of federalism, an arrogant assumption that one size fits all, it also completely ignores the sad reality of health care in my home state. I take full responsibility for that mistake — and it was a mistake. To the people of Massachusetts, I say this: Even with the best of intentions and the generosity of the Massachusetts people, we simply have not met our goals.
"I promised that all those without health insurance would receive it. In fact, 100,000 still do not have health insurance. I promised that ER lines would become almost nonexistent. In fact, the lines are longer. I promised that premiums would go down. In fact, costs for employer-sponsored plans are rising faster than in any other state. Health care costs are spiraling upward, and people are waiting longer for treatment. Without cash infusion by the federal government — which means taxpayers in the other 49 states pay for health care in my home state — 'RomneyCare' would practically bankrupt Massachusetts.
"I was wrong. I've learned my lesson. I can speak to the dangers of ObamaCare unlike any other person in this race. I lived it, and I intend to do everything in my power to ensure it is never inflicted on any other state.
"The private sector is and remains the best way to assure the cheapest and most widely accessible goods and services. Some will fall through the cracks. That is the job of American compassion — people helping people. Americans are the most generous people on the face of the Earth, with the will and the capacity to help those who cannot help themselves. Vote for me. Help me explain the perils of government command and control of health care, and help me protect the American people from ObamaCare. I know the problems. And I know what to do about them. This is a win-win for America."
There's still time, Governor. Next time you give a speech on RomneyCare, call me first. Rates are negotiable. I already have health insurance.
Republicans hold the winning hand — both politically and as a matter of policy. A recent CNN poll finds 66 percent of Americans support raising the debt ceiling only if done with "substantial spending cuts and caps on future spending," as well as a balanced budget amendment to keep spending at a fixed percentage of GDP. A whopping 74 percent want a balanced budget amendment — period.
Democrats hold a bad hand. What to do? Claim that President Ronald Reagan considered the full faith and credit of America so important, default so unimaginable, even he would have accepted higher taxes.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews quoted part of a 1987 Reagan address: "Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default. ... This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations."
Reagan's address did not end there. Here's the part the Matthews skipped over: "For those who say more taxes will solve our deficit problem, they are wrong. Every time Congress increases taxes, the deficit does not decrease, spending increases. It's time for a clear and consistent policy to reduce the federal budget deficit. ... You don't need more taxes to balance the budget. Congress needs the discipline to stop spending more, and that can be done with the passage of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. ... But I ... will not permit Congress to dismantle our national defense, to jeopardize arms reduction or to increase your taxes. I am determined that will not happen."
Relax, lefties. Things could be worse. Suppose the tea party did not exist. Imagine the economy-damaging spending binge had the Dems retained their congressional majorities. The economy would be sputtering even more. Some disillusioned liberals would even start quoting Reagan: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
So, go ahead, President Obama. "Cave." Drop the tax-hike demand. Grumble that the party of "millionaires and billionaires" pressured you "by holding the nation hostage." Call the Republicans heartless and greedy. Then, like Bill Clinton, take credit for the resultant improving economy. Cruise to re-election. Works like a charm.
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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose."
(Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here. © 2006, Creators Syndicate
Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.
© 2006, Creators Syndicate