Romney: No Apologies For Romneycare

May 12th, 2011 at 2:52 pm | 64 Comments |

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Here is a link to Romney’s power point slide.

Here is where he defends the mandate:

For some, Romney’s ability to defend the mandate with a power point slide is either a great sign of his business sense, or just another reason to dismiss him as a technocrat who doesn’t view the world with a conservative ideological lens.


Romney wanted the majority of his speech to focus on his plan to repeal the Obama healthcare law, but he knows that most commentators are watching this speech to see how he defends his mandate. He ended up defending the Massachusetts mandate passionately. Some would say he gave a stronger defense of why mandates work then Obama ever did for his own healthcare plan.

The problem Romney faces is that conservatives believe that the individual mandate is an unconstitutional infringement of liberty. Thus, the Romney solution to provide affordable healthcare in Massachusetts is thus:

-liberty killing


-and a template for Obamacare.

The Romney’s defense had several parts. While they made logical sense. They will likely not serve him well in the GOP primary.

1. Romney argues that since it’s a state-level policy, then a mandate in Massachusetts is ok. By this logic, President Romney would be ok if Vermont embraced single-payer, and a more conservative state decided to give no healthcare.

2. Romney also defended the mechanisms of the mandate itself. In this part of the speech, Romney clearly understood why a mandate makes technocratic sense. He understands the free rider problem that the mandate is meant to defeat.

3. Romney also tried to play down the mandate’s importance to his overall plan. He argued that the mandate didn’t really affect that many people in Massachusetts, arguing that 94% of the population was already insured so it was only meant to help 6%.

4. Unlike the Wall Street Journal, Romney thinks that 6% of people without insurance is a problem! “6% sounds small, but it is a half a million people.” Romney noted that being without insurance is “a frightening experience”.

5. And Romney ultimately will not apologize for providing insurance. He is aware that “that explanation is not going to satisfy everybody”.

And the ultimate reason he won’t apologize? “It wouldn’t be honest. I in fact did what I think was right for the people of my state.”

He later reiterates this during the Q&A session: “Am I proud of the fact that we did the best for our people and got them insured? Absolutely”


Romney says he will introduce his own Medicare plan “but it wont be identical” to the Ryan plan.

This is big and counts as news. It means that Romney will not be running on the GOP budget.


Romney is putting the issues with the Mandate front and center. I’ll post my extended notes on this soon, but the short preview is this: it won’t satisfy his critics, but at least Romney defends his mandate.


It’s starting late, but Romney has begun.

A few quick notes: this is a presentation with power point slides. Not a speech with flags like his “Faith in America” speech.


While we wait for the speech to start. CNN has live feed here. C-Span is also supposed to be carrying the speech but it hasn’t started yet.


At 2pm ET today, Mitt Romney will give a speech about healthcare at the University of Michigan. Healthcare has been a millstone around Romney’s neck since his signature achievement as governor of Massachusetts: legislating universal coverage for all citizens by having an individual mandate to compel the purchase of insurance.  This policy is also at the center of Obama’s own healthcare law and one which Republicans have decided is an unconstitutional infringement of liberty. The challenge facing Romney is clear, is there anything he can say to put this issue to rest?

Romney has given various answers when asked about the similarities between his healthcare law and the president’s. When asked about it at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s meeting in Las Vegas, Romney said that if the president’s and his healthcare policies were so similar, then “why didn’t you [Obama] call me? Why didn’t you ask what was wrong? Why didn’t you ask if this was an experiment, what worked and what didn’t?”

However as we’ve noted at FrumForum, Romney himself hasn’t been clear about what has and has not worked with his own plan. Romney is certainly trying hard to convince Republicans that he is with them on the healthcare issue and will say that he thinks the law is unconstitutional. But Romney still defends what he did in Massachusetts. This contrasts with Pawlenty who is begging for forgiveness from the GOP electorate for his old support for cap-and-trade.

Romney has offered a preview of the health reform proposals he will run on in USA Today. If his speech stays close to the material in the op-ed, then we might get a lot of ideas on what Romney wants to do going forward, but few apologies for how he handled healthcare in Massachusetts. FrumForum will track the speech to see how Romney makes his case.

Follow Noah on Twitter: @noahkgreen

Recent Posts by Noah Kristula-Green

64 Comments so far ↓

  • Smargalicious

    Noah, we all know your agenda: demonize any and all threats to your progressive “Dear Leader”.

    Anyone would be better than the anti-American clown we have in now.

    • John

      do you dispute the similarities between Romney’s healthcare legislation and Obama’s? (that was a rhetorical question, just in case). the point of the article is that, as the presumptive leader of the GOP field, Romney needs to decide whether to (1) admit he made a mistake in legislating universal healthcare and a mandate to purchase health insurance as governor of MA; or (2) embrace those parts of Obamacare. Its a ligitimate liability and has very little to do with how you feel about Obama; this is Romney’s cross.

      • Smargalicious

        Yes, I agree that it’s Romney’s cross; he is a politician and did things to please the MA voting demographic. However, taken as a whole, MA’s business case does not fit country-wide.

        Politically he did the right thing, IMHO, when he called for the repudiation of Obamacare today.

        • John

          so you think he can call for the repeal of obamacare without admitting a mistake in MA simply by sayinig that MA is different from the rest of the country and, in any case, he was only trying to please those MA liberals? i doubt that’ll fly. i think he has to pick one: universal healthcare and an individual mandate is either good policy or it isn’t.

        • Smargalicious

          I think he’s a deft enough politician to escape this.

        • John

          i wish him luck; i think he’s the most capable in the GOP field. that said, i still think he’d be better off embracing it than trying to escape it. draw the sting as they say.

        • ottovbvs

          However, taken as a whole, MA’s business case does not fit country-wide.

          Why not? Got three heads in MA have they?

  • indy

    Remember the scene in Laura Croft where she fought the giant stone warrior? When she shot it in the face, the head just rotated to a new face? I named it Mitt.

  • nuser

    How republican. Twist it around and blame President Obama! Just a while back Romney pointed
    with pride to the similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare. Are we to understand Romneycare was an experiment? Sure sounds like it. This article by Mr. Green is a very good one .

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Romney: my healthcare plan is an exemplar of states rights and due to its success should be emulated by other states, and as such I am running for President of the United States in order to do nothing about health care because what is good for the people of Mass. is…somehow…not good for the people of Texas unless they want it. If not I will make sure that the 26% of Texans who lack health care remained unburdened by the success of my plan in Mass. which led to 98% coverage.

    I also love how Obama was supposed to call Romney as though Nokia has to call Okidata (an early cell phone maker) on designs of cell phones.

  • Saladdin

    I feel sorry for Mitt. His greatest accomplishment is now his greatest burden. Kinda sucks for him and the larger issue is how he deals with this issue. He needs to be forceful (the phrase “I’d rather be right than consistent” comes to mind), but my guess is that he’ll discuss what he wants to do on a national level (repeal and replace with current GOP talking point ideologies) rather than go through a detailed analysis of his own HC plan.

    Romney’s biggest issue is his lack of self-awareness that comes off as flip flopping. What was that line from Charlie Cook? Mitt Romney is the only politician I’ve seen that can change his position on an issue mid-speech.

  • Diomedes

    “I feel sorry for Mitt. His greatest accomplishment is now his greatest burden”

    It’s only a ‘burden’ because of the ideologues in his party. Because they have now been highjacked by the Tea Party and ultra right wing crazies, he has to back-pedal to save face. If I was him, I would wear it with a badge of honor. The point to note is that the majority of Americans SUPPORT health care changes. Only a small subset of the wacky GOP base has this visceral dislike for it because they listen to the screams of ‘socialism!’ like a bunch of Pavlovian dogs.

    People like Romney should start leading by example and then maybe the GOP will start to return to normalcy.

    • Watusie

      Actually, it is only a burden becasue he is a spineless craven pol who is unwilling to stand up for what he believes in.

      • wileedog

        That would require him actually believing in something that wasn’t driven by the latest polls.

    • torourke

      His greatest achievement…you mean the one that a plurality of Massachusetts residents now disapprove of? A Suffolk poll from last month found that 38% of Massachusetts registered voters approve of Romneycare while 49% disapprove of it. Now how on earth could that be? Could it be exploding costs? Longer wait times? More doctors refusing to admit new patients? Some of the highest premiums in the country (hello stagnating wages!)? The fact that Governor Patrick tried to shut down the non-profit insurance market through price controls? No, surely not! It must be because of the jedi-mind tricks of Tea Partiers getting deep-blue Massachusetts to turn against the model of health care “reform” that Obama and his fellow supporters followed.

      QED, I guess.

      • indy

        Really? Where can I find that poll? Here is one that says 84% are satisfied with it:

      • Saladdin

        Okay, torourke, what is Mitt’s single greatest accomplishment as governor of Mass that would differentiate him from other Mass. governors?

      • Watusie

        Funny thing about that poll – it only exists on right wing websites. It can’t be found anywhere else – like in the Suffolk University archive itself. How very odd.

        I did find this – so torourke, put up or retract

      • Saladdin

        Link please.

        • Watusie

          Realizing that facts have a liberal bias, torourke has left the building.

        • indy

          I think he was run out.

        • armstp

          A wide range of polls over the last couple of years has shown great support for Romneycare in MASS. The people love it and it costed less than 1% of the state’s budget. It has been a massive success and the people of that state know it.

          I challenge any conservative to prove that the people of MASS do not like the Romneycare plan.

        • torourke

          Sorry guys, I’ve been a bit busy.

          Here it is:

          Notice that the poll still finds high marks for Obama overall, but the people of Massachusetts do appear to be souring on Romneycare.

        • torourke

          Well, now that poll has disappeared on me too. Here’s the write-up from early April:

          “Massachusetts health care was seen as working by 38 percent of registered voters, while just under half (49 percent) said it is not working, and 13 percent were undecided. Asked if Mitt Romney’s role in health care here would help or hurt his presidential campaign, 54 percent of voters said it would hurt; 22 percent felt it would help; and 22 percent were undecided.

          “Health care continues to define Mitt Romney and weigh down his presidential campaign like an iron stethoscope,” said Paleologos.

          By the way Watusie, did you post a poll from January of 2010?

  • ditka

    I am sure Romney’s speech today will go like this “Hi, I tried to do a good thing. Those terrible liberal screwed it up. Blah, blah blah, blame Democrats for ruining my great idea. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Obama is terrible and his law is NOTHING like what I passed. Zzzz. Zzzz. God Bless America. Now I’m giong to go watch some porno*”

    The only person lamer than Romney is Pawlenty. His answer on cap and trade showed what kind of a sniveling little worm he really is. He thought it was such a bad idea he agreed to do an ad for an environmental group that was focused on passing a cap and trade law. Why didn’t he just wear a name tag saying “Hi, my name is Bitch. ”

    * – That last sentence won’t happen, but it would be hilarious.

  • think4yourself

    I read this post, didn’t watch the speech. Romney’s argument about a state’s rights issue would be more compelling if that is what he had said from the moment he started running for the Presidency the last time. But, I’m willing to listen.

    I’m glad he defended his healthcare bill and it’s results. As governor, he was responsible for the citizens of MA who had 6% of it’s citizens without healthcare. If Romney was President does that mean he isn’t responsible for the roughly 15% in the country who don’t have healthcare?

  • WillyP

    Oh Romney… instituting socialist health care is bad on a city, state, and national level. No one is saying it was illegal. They are saying it sucks.

  • Sinan

    Liberty killing? What nonsense is this anyway? What liberty is at risk by asking folks to pay for the system that saves their lives? The far right is a joke. Our nation is a joke. Romney at least has a solution for Massachusetts.

  • Rubicon

    Some good points that address some of the factors Romney and his team addressed in its Mass Health Care Plan and a couple of differences between federal and state approaches.

    “1. RomneyCare was uniquely designed for Massachusetts; ObamaCare is a one-size-fits-all imposition on all states, regardless of their economic condition. Massachusetts is the third-wealthiest state in the United States. Moreover, even before state-level health care reform, 89% of its residents were insured. Do you think it’s possible that a wealthy state with a low percentage of uninsured might have greater means to offer universal coverage? Consider this chart. Some much poorer states have up to 25 to 26% of their population uninsured. How much more will it cost to offer universal coverage in those states? Shouldn’t they be free to work out solutions that fit with their economic reality?

    2. RomneyCare was enacted only after Mitt balanced the state budget. If you don’t think this an important distinction, then you haven’t been paying attention. Mitt enacted health care reform in a wealthy state, that he first rendered fiscally sound, to cover a modest amount of uninsured. Obama enacted his reform in a nation that is shattering deficit records to insure millions upon millions of uninsured with no money in the bank. How much conservative anger about ObamaCare is driven by fiscal concern? I know much of mine is. How can we possibly pay for this? Who could rationally think we can afford this reform in an era of record deficits?

    3. Mitt created bipartisan consensus while Obama rammed his reform down our throats and against the majority opinion of the American people. Had the President attempted a truly bipartisan reform, we likely would have had a bill, but it would have been far more modest, far less controversial, and it would not have broken the bank. There’s a difference between leadership — which Mitt showed in Massachusetts — and the raw exercise of power, which Obama, Reid, and Pelosi demonstrated in Washington. How much conservative rage stems from the fact that we (and the rest of America) were essentially steamrolled?

    4. RomneyCare is constitutional; ObamaCare may very well prove to be an unconstitutional abuse of federal power. I know quite a few people are sneering at the multiple lawsuits challenging the federal individual mandate, but — like it or not — the states and the federal governments have different constitutional powers. States have a general “police power,” which allows them to pass laws to advance the health, safety, and (traditionally) morals of the community. The federal government is limited to its enumerated powers. Constitutional critics of Obamacare ask a common-sense question: Where in the enumerated powers of the Constitution is the federal government empowered to require citizens to purchase a product from a private entity?” Copied from EFM (Evangelicals for Mitt) Author David French.

    • ottovbvs

      1. RomneyCare was uniquely designed for Massachusetts; ObamaCare is a one-size-fits-all imposition on all states,

      Tell us how the healthcare problems in MA are substantively different from those in PA or SC?

  • valkayec

    Yesterday, Ezra Klein wrote a blog post about Romney’s speech on how he would transform national health care. It left a lot of unanswered questions.

    Update: Oops, sorry. Klein wrote about Romney’s Op-ed. Today, Klein discusses Romney’s speech.

  • indy

    Why do people keep pretending the uninsured don’t get medical care, and that some magical fairy produces the money if they do?

  • indy

    Here is the problem that Mitt and Newt face on this: the press doesn’t like them the way they liked McCain during the 2008 campaign. McCain could flip flop and get away with not being called too much on it. These guys won’t have that luxury.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    rubicon: Consider this chart. Some much poorer states have up to 25 to 26% of their population uninsured. How much more will it cost to offer universal coverage in those states? Shouldn’t they be free to work out solutions that fit with their economic reality?

    Um…considering how they have 25 to 26% uninsured how exactly are they showing that they are fit to work out solutions? How much time to they need? 26% is a disgrace, and frankly it is contrary to the supposed Christian nature of most of the Bible belt population, unless they completely disregard the teachings of Jesus and his command to care for the sick, must be supply side Jeebus they worship.

    “Mitt created bipartisan consensus while Obama rammed his reform down our throats and against the majority opinion of the American people.” Oh what utter horseshit. If 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the house, and the White House constitute “ramming” anything then Rubicon certainly must hate Bush and his “raping the American people” by enacting his tax cuts with 50 Votes in the Senate (not even a majority, using reconciliation to do so) When Republicans pass things against the will of the majority it is called leadership, when Democrats have an overwhelming majority duly elected by the people it is tyranny. Well I say Rubicon has crossed the rhetorical rubicon into insanity.

    As to “breaking the bank” the ACA reduces the deficit by over a trillion, but what does reality and facts mean to crazy ideologues?

    “Where in the enumerated powers of the Constitution is the federal government empowered to require citizens to purchase a product from a private entity?” Its not but the power to tax is. Where in the Constitution is the federal government empowered to give tax breaks for home mortgages?
    Essentially people who do not have mortgages are punished by having to pay a higher rate than those that don’t, however that is surely constitutional.
    As to the notion of “forcing anyone to eat broccoli” Rubicon wants the right to go to public hospitals and get free broccoli. Rubicon wants to STEAL from hard working Americans who have insurance by being a free rider, well the tax is on those free riders to pay their fair share. Of course Rubicon will say he never gets sick. I am also sure that Rubicon would go crying to the federal government if his house were under water in Miss. and he didn’t have flood insurance. I simply can’t stand these Republican lazy thiefs and slackers who want free health care and not pay for it.

    • Chris Balsz

      Caring for the sick would be providing health care. Mandating insurance you don’t need is providing for the corporations. The stated justification for the mandates is, the hope that it will provide surplus revenue to insurers beyond health care expenses; thus sparing the government from buying the health care.

      “Rubicon wants to STEAL from hard working Americans who have insurance by being a free rider, well the tax is on those free riders to pay their fair share. Of course Rubicon will say he never gets sick.”

      Wrong. You chose to buy insurance. You can chose to stop buying insurance. That has nothing to do with me or anybody else. Just because you imagine you can ROB me– that’s taking money by FORCE — in the calculation that if the insurer has enough surplus revenue, your price will come down (and that’s the argument that’s been used in federal court)– that’s no justification for robbery. And it doesn’t make me a “thief” when you don’t have any of my money to play with.

      BTW what happened to the moral duty to care for the sick?

      • ottovbvs

        Caring for the sick would be providing health care. Mandating insurance you don’t need is providing for the corporations.

        Chris Balsz after proving conclusively he doesn’t understand how and why the financial crash happened (He claimed that the failure of all US based banks wouldn’t present a threat to the US) now demonstrates his compendiious knowledge of how insurance works.

      • mikewaz

        BTW what happened to the moral duty to care for the sick?

        See, that’s what I don’t get. It’s apparently perfectly fine to encode moral beliefs like homosexuality being immoral or conception being where life begins into law, but it’s absolutely not fine to encode moral beliefs like taking care of the sick and the poor into law. Why is that?

        • Chris Balsz

          Well that’s fine; I think that’s met by providing everybody healthcare without insurance; and my point was, if he thinks he owes somebody something as a sacred duty, what’s the use complaining it should be cheaper?

        • Nomad13

          I am sorry…Chris are you arguing for Single-Payer or nationalization of health care? I see you making the distinction between health care and health care insurance, and that leads me to think you are more than willing to cut private industry out of health care altogether.

          Which I am all for.

      • valkayec

        Caring for the sick would be providing health care. Mandating insurance you don’t need is providing for the corporations.

        You realize, of course, that you just stated the case for single payer, non-profit or government provided health care a la Medicare, don’t you?

        FYI, when don’t you need health insurance? Don’t you ever get sick enough to require blood tests, annual physicals, x-rays, and those occasional highly expensive visits to specialists? I realize that if you get your insurance through your employer you probably don’t pay much attention to the explanation of benefits your insurance company sends you ’cause your company pays the bills, but next time you receive one, take a look at it.

        The actual costs being charged would seriously put a big hole in most family budgets…or require a bank loan. Heck, my grandson’s pediatrician recommended my daughter take him, an adopted infant not yet insurable, to a county clinic for his shots because of the enormously different cost factor, representing several hundreds of dollars.

        No one on a relatively tight budget, as most middle income workers are these days, can afford the hugely expensive medical care delivery bills and still pay for the essentials, like housing, food, utilities, clothing, etc.

        Moreover, anyone who does not have insurance through an employer, such as the self employed, the growing number of temps, and those shut out of the employment market right now, has to buy insurance in the individual insurance market. Have you look at those costs? Do an experiment. Contact several insurers and ask for quotes and complete coverage details for you and your family on the private insurance market. (You have to tell them you do not have any coverage through an employer or are on Medicare.) Then, using your standard usage of services – doctor visits, tests, etc – calculate your estimated annual total costs.

        Now, once you have those costs on the individual market compare them to the costs paid through your employer (include the 50% of so your employer pays) where the costs and risk are spread over the company. What you find is that the larger the risk pool, the lower the costs. Now, I don’t know about you, but my greatest concern is cost. I want to maximize every dollar spent so the “individual freedom” issue ranks second after my personal financial issue.

        Moreover, knowing for decades that the larger the company, the lower the individual payroll deductions & company costs per employee for health insurance are and having been an independent contractor and small business person, I’ve often thought that if enough of us in my employment situation gathered together we could spread the risk wide enough to reduce the premiums to the size that most large companies achieve. Now, with ACA, we have a chance to do so without having to form some sort of state or national union or association.

        Finally, if ACA proves cost efficient, then employers can stop paying for insurance benefits which would lower their costs and make them more globally competitive against all those companies/countries where health insurance is factored into product costs. GM said that health insurance added ~$1300 to the cost of each automobile.

        Imagine how many more GM cars could be sold if the cost of each was $1300 lower? Competition with international auto makers would be more on quality and less on price. Now, imagine that kind of competition across the board on all products. Head to head, apples to apples, pricing based on quality rather than on increased US made product pricing because health care insurance costs. Of course, this argument ignores differing labor costs, but even so, imagine how many more domestically made products could be sold without the high cost of health insurance on each company’s balance sheets and featured into the price of each product.

        If you don’t see the ultimate benefits for business as well as individual buyers then I have to really wonder about your priorities.

  • ottovbvs

    RomneyCare is constitutional; ObamaCare may very well prove to be an unconstitutional abuse of federal power.

    Er…Obamacare is being challenged on the grounds of the mandate. Romneycare has a mandate. So why is Obamacare unconstitutional but Romneycare is constitutional. BTW the very obvious speciousness of your arguments are compelling evidence of the problem Romney has in denying his program is different. It’s obvious to a ten year old if not to you that they are essentially the same.

    • Chris Balsz

      Romney supporters have told me, it is because the Federal government has enumerated powers (limited to what is created in the Constitution) and the states have reserved powers (powers that can’t be limited by the Constitution). So they argue the state can confiscate some of your income to make an industry more profitable, and the feds can’t.

      • ottovbvs

        I’m not a lawyer but it’s probably reasonable to assume Romney’s supporters are spinning. Either way this is not exacty an argument I see having much resonance in the country at large as Romney pursues his campaign. He’s going to make a bigger ass of himself than if he’d just said it was all a huge mistake or taken the bigger gamble of claiming credit for it.

  • armstp


    “Romney argues that since it’s a state-level policy, then a mandate in Massachusetts is ok.”

    Romney was a very vocal supporter of a FEDERAL mandate when he supported the Chafee plan in 1994, which included a federal mandate. He cannot simply now argue that he is only for a state mandate.

    As the political world awaits his major healthcare address tomorrow, a new headache has emerged for Mitt Romney:

    “The day before his big health care speech, Blue Mass Group explodes a depth charge right under Mitt Romney. They point to “Stormin’ Mormon,” the pre-1994 election profile of Romney by John Judis. That year, running uphill against Ted Kennedy, Romney said he’d support the health care compromise introduced by Sen. John Chafee. That compromise included a mandate to buy health insurance, something Democrats never tired of pointing out in 2009 and 2010 when the Affordable Care Act’s compromise was characterized as tyranny or socialism.

    Here’s Romney’s 1994 quote, as reported at the time by The New Republic:

    “The question about Romney is where he would stand in Congress’s internecine battles. Would he side with Republicans such as John Chafee who have tried to develop constructive alternatives to Democratic legislation or with Republicans such as Phil Gramm and Newt Gingrich who have been willing to paralyze Congress for the sake of embarrassing the Clinton administration? Romney has indicated that he would side with the moderate wing. He endorsed the crime bill and refused to back Gingrich’s jejune “Contract with America.” He told me he would have backed Chafee’s health care bill. “I’m willing to vote for things that I am not wild with,” he said.

    His defense just out from his campaign (he cannot deny he supported a federal mandate in 1994, as it is on record), so he simply says he changed his mind:

    “Governor Romney has made it very clear over the last many years, including during the 2008 presidential cycle, that he opposes a federally imposed individual mandate.”

    So basically he is not denying that he supported a federal mandate back in 1994, but that he has changed his mind and since 2008 he opposes a federal mandate.

    Complete bullshit and once again a complete 180 degree turn for mister magic underwear flip-flopper. People should hold flip-flops up in the air at his rallies.

  • Telly Davidson

    I think I’ve made my own personal opinions on the Mandate (it’s corporate welfare for an industry with a regular 20-25% profit margin, and an unconstitutional infringement on personal consumer choice.)

    But let’s take the side of the pro-Mandate conservatives and “pro-business” Dems/Inds like Lieberman, Baucus, Nelson, Lincoln, etc. for a minute. They believed that (a) with us being the only First World nation w/o national healthcare, (b) after it was conclusively proven that healthcare/retirement liabilities were what broke GM and Chrysler’s backs in 2009, and (c) after the progressive, Facebook “youth-quake” that elected Obama — SOME kind of national health reform was an inevitable certainty.

    So what do y’all think would happen if Mitt came out with what pro-Mandate Republicans and Blue Dogs really believe, and said in a high-profile venue: “I don’t like the Mandate — but it is the only, ONLY, ONLY thing keeping us from the spectre of Single Payer [aka "government-run healthcare" in the right-wing lexicon.] It’s either mandated private insurance or Single Payer. PERIOD. There is no Curtain Number 3. Pick yer poison.”

    What do you think would happen to him if he framed his argument that way?

    • armstp


      Single-payer is inevitable. The more the Republicans complain about the HCR Act or pick apart Medicare it just speeds-up our move to single payer. Single-payer is coming. Exploding healthcare costs and/or voter anger over loss of full medicare will eventually push us to single-payer. It is the only system that works, as proven by every other country on the planet.

      • valkayec

        Except in China where the savings rate is huge in order to pay for retirement and health care…and part of the reason why the Chinese government won’t let the yuan float on the world market.

      • Bunker555

        +1 armstp

      • KellyRek


        Yes, single payer is inevitable. Obamacare is a sneaky way to bail out the insurance industry (via the individual mandate) while the CEO’s give themselves multimillion dollar salaries.

        But the Titanic will sink! The iceberg is the huge population of baby boomers, getting sick and old. Even with the mandate, there won’t be enough young people paying premiums into the insurance pool.

        Because the oligopolies are “too big to fail,” the Federal Government cannot allow a complete meltdown. The industry will be absorbed by the Feds.

        One giant computer will replace the individual insurance companies. This beast will process the actuary data of every single American.

  • ottovbvs

    (it’s corporate welfare for an industry with a regular 20-25% profit margin, and an unconstitutional infringement on personal consumer choice.)

    It’s certainly not unconstitutional. To claim that the purchase of health insurance is not a commercial activity and therefore covered by the commerce clause is ridiculous. And given the existing infrastructure of American healthcare with special interests and hundreds of thousands of employees it wasn’t really practical either politically, economically or managerially to go any other route. I favor a single payer route but there are plenty of hybrid systems around notably in France which work fine.

    • Chris Balsz

      Vinson’s ruling makes the counterargument: the purchase of health care services or insurance is commerce that would trigger the commerce clause; anticipating that purchase by regulating the decision not to purchase insurance, is not valid.

  • Rubicon

    from Article VI Blog

    Mitt Romney most decidedly does not have a health care problem – he has a problem of prejudice.

    Today he gave a speech on what he did as governor of Massachusetts and what he would do as POTUS. The video is here. It was a good speech, it looked the issues hard in the face and it dealt with them. Romney did a fine job (his slides are here) of explaining what he did and how it contrasts with Obamacare. But the reaction has been almost universal criticism – and virtually all of it fails to engage with Romney and what he said. In other words, it is not criticism, it’s attack.

    The Wall Street Journal cast the die for this response even before the speech was given. Rather than wait for the man to speak, and react to what he said, they simply savaged him. Isn’t that “prejudice” down to its Latin roots, pre-judging? The speech was followed by an equally savage, and even less substantive, reaction on the front page of National Review Online. It should be noted that National Review officially endorsed Romney in the last primary cycle and Massachusetts health care was in place then. Where was the invective at that time? Some go so far as to declare Romney’s candidacy over before it has even begun. Then of course there were the countless blog posts and reaction pieces, virtually all of which were savage, but without any response to what was actually said.

    Worse yet, they fail to address the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma in which Romney finds himself. Nothing short of complete repudiation of the Massachusetts health care system would have satisfied them, but of course, if Romney had done that they would have whipped out the old reliable “flip-flop” meme and the savaging would have continued apace. As Romney himself said, if he repudiated what happened as so many want, he would have to lie. Chris Cillizza seems to stand alone in getting this point.

    It is the non-substantive, uncritical, and prejudicial nature of the discussion that I find most disturbing. I have said for a while now, that there are suspicions of Romney looking for a home – “flip-flop,” “Mormon,” whatever. But if this reaction is any measure – it’s not suspicion, it’s animosity. It is inviting to try and find the psychological roots of this animus. Again religion comes to mind, or perhaps projection of anger at Obama, or maybe simply feeling betrayed that he was not able to close the deal last time? Regardless, it would be pure speculation. What is important is to examine the ramifications of this reaction to our party and its hopes for the White House in 2012.

    While not addressing in the least what Romney actually said, the attacks are highly ideological and completely ignore the political realities of Romney’s service as governor of an incredibly liberal state. Health care was going to happen in Massachusetts from an overwhelmingly Democrat legislature. He was confronted with a stark challenge – let such a legislature proceed while standing on ideological principle, in which case Massachusetts would have ended up with something much, much worse than what it has, or engage and try to keep things closer to within reason. In fact, Romney chose to get out in front of the legislature, hoping to gain as much negotiating advantage as possible. Much that was and is objectionable about the system was passed by overriding Romney’s veto, and much else that is bad has come to pass since he left office.

    To his credit Romney did not attempt to defend himself in this fashion, something that would have been a page right out of Obama’s “Blame Bush handbook.” He stood up and took responsibility for what happened on his watch.

    And so we once again seem to be ready, in the name of ideology and “purity,” to eat our own. We wonder why we lose when here it is staring us in the face. The left puts charisma in front of substance and well, the current administration says it all. We put ideology in front of political reality and we end up with John McCain or Bob Dole driving up the middle, which is what opens doors for the Dems and charisma. Ideological purity is really nothing more than our version of the swoon that brought Obama to the fore.

    What we need is substance in the face of political reality – something it appeared to me that Romney is offering in spades. What concerns me most is that if we continue down this path, us with our ideologues and they with their crooners, the country will end up in some sort of push me-pull you form of polar chaos.

    We are supposed to be the grown-ups in the room – sober and serious – actually doing the job instead of just looking good while we pretend to do the job. Maybe once all this bile has been spilled we can get serious again, but then I am wandering into the psychology I want to avoid. Who knows, if this day is any indication, maybe we deserve Donald Trump.

    ©2011 Article VI Blog. All Rights Reserved.

    • Chris Balsz

      We don’t owe Mitt Romney a road to the White House. We aren’t obliged to think, “Golly Mitt Romney sure has the experience and achievements– the “substance”– necessary to qualify him for the Presidency” and then refrain from judging his decisions. Nor are we obliged to have an opinion of his career that can be cancelled out by one speech. I’m sorry that, at this point in his decades of politics, he feels cornered and would like us to take his side without asking too many questions.

      Why is it that defenders of Mitt Romney are at war with “purity”? Why isn’t Mitt Romney the best choice, the right choice, the choice you can feel good about, the man who oughta be President regardless of who else is in or out? He isn’t, that’s clear. And the idea that Bob Dole and John McCain represented “purity” over realism is laughable. They represented the triumph of party politics over a reform agenda.

      The “adults in the room” need to grow up and realize that saying one thing to get elected, and then doing whatever they feel like doing while in office, is actually pretty adolescent.

  • Stan

    By an odd coincidence, the night before Romney’s speech in Ann Arbor, my wife and I saw Miller’s Crossing again. I can’t help thinking that Romney’s speech resembled Bernie Bernbaum’s grovelling plea for life when he thinks Tom Reagan is about to kill him. Of course Romney isn’t alone. There’s Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe, Orren Hatch, and Lindsay Graham, all following earlier examples by John McCain and Charles Grassley in disavowing their previous political lives for fear of the Tea Party. This is really a wonderful moral lesson for children.

  • ottovbvs

    But the reaction has been almost universal criticism – and virtually all of it fails to engage with Romney and what he said.

    Well that’s probably because Romney’s entire presentation was self evidently mendacious and did nothing other than produce hoot of laughter on left and right. And who or what is Article VI blog, an offshoot of the Romney campaign? And who is Rubicon a paid shill for Romney? Is article VI Rubicon’s blog and if so why is he spamming? I have no problem with Romney per se, he’s probably the most credible candidate on the right this time around as he was last time, he’d have been a far better candidate than McCain, but to claim his program is in any way substantively different from Obama’s, or that MA faces different healthcare problems than the rest of the country, is self evident poppycock, and Romney invites ridicule for being stupid enough to make such specious claims.

  • Telly Davidson

    It’s certainly not unconstitutional. To claim that the purchase of health insurance is not a commercial activity and therefore covered by the commerce clause is ridiculous. And given the existing infrastructure of American healthcare with special interests and hundreds of thousands of employees it wasn’t really practical either politically, economically or managerially to go any other route.

    We’ll know for sure whether the Mandate is constitutional when Anthony Kennedy says so ;-)

    I do agree with the practicality argument — but Obama fouled his own nest when he attacked Hillary’s mandate (in the ’08 primaries) and allowed the left wing to spend a full year wishfully-thinking that a single-payer alternative stood a chance with Baucus, Lieberman, and the Republicans in the Senate. I don’t blame Obama for the outrageous racial/birther attacks on his Presidency, but his failure to be forthright about what the only real options were in 2009 was his fault. Just as Mitt’s failure to ‘splain that from now on, it’s either (A) mandate or (B) single-payer — that the status quo isn’t an option anymore after the Meltdown and GM/Chrysler — is his fault.

  • KellyRek

    The mandate is a government bailout to the insurance cartel.

    Mitt Romney is a mealy-mouthed spinmeister. I distrust him as much as I distrust Obama.

  • andydp

    Note to Mr Romney:

    Before doing a speech like that you should cue in Tea for Two and start tap dancing around your dead political beliefs…

  • KellyRek

    The healthcare reform bill that President Obama signed into law undermines the consumer to be in charge of his/her own healthcare. Instead, the new law further entrenches the oligopoly status of the healthcare industry. This is a recipe for an inflationary spiral in healthcare costs (both for the providers and for the insurers.) So as the baby boomers age and develop chronic illnesses, the inflation will worsen even more.

    I wrote another article, comparing the healthcare oligopolies with the teachers’ unions: