While none of his rivals have landed a punch on the health care issue — though it seems like Rick Santorum is on the right path, it is certainly something that Mitt Romney will continue deal with during his campaign as he bobs and weaves from his own past statements; as the Wall Street Journal notes:
The exchange began when Rick Santorum scored Mr. Romney for lacking health-care “credibility,” since the 2006 Bay State reform “was the basis for ObamaCare.” If the first claim is for primary voters to decide, no one who knows anything about health policy on the left or right would deny the second: When Democrats wrote the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010, they borrowed liberally from Mr. Romney’s model.
If the plans are not identical in every detail, they share major phenotypes: an individual mandate to buy health insurance or else pay a penalty; large transfer payments to subsidize the middle class; and much more government control over how insurance plans are structured, how medical services are delivered, and how both are priced.
“This is something that was crafted for Massachusetts,” Mr. Romney responded in Las Vegas, repeating his stock answer. “It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.” The former Governor says Mr. Obama’s plan “must be repealed” and then states can experiment with their own health-care solutions.
But the larger and more important point is that Mr. Romney continues to defend his Massachusetts plan as a success for precisely the same reasons that President Obama says it should be imposed on all states. In reality, the Massachusetts plan is not a success and its problems are the best refutation of the duo’s arguments.
Here’s Mr. Romney Tuesday night: “What we do is rely on private insurers, and people—93% of our people who are already insured, nothing changed. For the people who didn’t have insurance, they get private insurance, not government insurance.”
Here’s Mr. Obama in his health-care speech to Congress in 2009: “If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.” And the uninsured, Mr. Obama continued, would simply receive “affordable choices” from “private insurers.”
The trouble with the Obama-Romney definition of “affordable” is that in practice it means subsidies, and once the government provides “free” health care, the private sector and entitlement state are fungible. Government inevitably dictates choices that used to be left to markets, as Mr. Santorum and Newt Gingrich pointed out. And, sure enough, due to the subsidy gusher that Mr. Romney opened, Massachusetts is now moving to impose price controls on private insurance and tightly regulate the type of care patients can receive.
Romney will say anything to get elected. The man has no core principles, which is why he hasn’t been able to gain any real traction as his rivals have peaked and subsequently decline in the polls. We’ve noted before how Romney wrote in his book that his health insurance law, which includes the individual mandate, was an idea that should be implemented nationally. Of course, he changed that line once it became a political liability.
Friends and co-workers have asked me in recent days who I think will be the nominee. When I say Romney, the reaction is the same, “That guy?” Most concede that the other candidates in the field aren’t that great. Others have their preference, and since I work roughly 30 miles south of Atlanta, literally within walking distance of his campaign’s headquarters, Herman Cain certainly has his fans.
The Saturday Night Live clips that portray Romney as the candidates that will be there for Republicans to “settle” on in the end are really very true, though it should be read as an indictment of the field. Every candidate has there flaws, for sure, but if Romney wins it won’t be because he was the “favorite.”