For those of you who wonder how sincere Mitt Romney is about wanting to repeal Obama-care, as I have concluded in the past, there’s no way he will fight for it. The Gateway Pundit is carrying an excellent report on this fact, and one of Romney’s surrogates, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, went “On The Record” with Greta Van Susteren Friday night, and what she said more or less lets the cat out of the bag. If you want to know why it’s unlikely Romney will ever act to fully repeal Obamacare, or simply why so many believe he’s insincere on the issue, you’ll want to read this. It’s an excellent catch by the Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft, and I’d urge you to surf on over and give the story and included video its due consideration. Excellent reporting!
Posts Tagged ‘Romney-care’
I’ve grown somewhat impatient with people who claim to be conservative telling me why Willard “Mitt” Romney is electable. Frankly, I think some of them are being disingenuous, or worse, have deluded themselves, but I don’t think the facts support their claims in any case. What seems to be the argument is that Romney can capture moderates and independents in the general election. It may be pointless to argue the matter, but the reasons offered for this are his business record and the fact that he governed a very blue state. Effectively, what I’m being told is that because he’s one part Dukakis and one part Rockefeller, he can defeat Barack Obama. I dispute this claim, because I know that moderates and independents are not so much ideological in their voting as they are risk-averse, and the one characteristic of a candidate against which they react with the greatest vigor is flip-flopping, or inconsistency. If they’re offered two choices that are nearly the same in ideological terms, they will tend to choose the one who has remained most consistent. It’s for this reason that Mitt Romney will not defeat Barack Obama.
Whatever else you may think about Obama, he has been ideologically consistent throughout most of his presidency. Mitt Romney, by contrast, has flipped and flopped and moved all over the place on a host of issues. He’s changed his position on so many issues that it’s now difficult to catalog, but one of his biggest problems is an issue on which he has not directly flip-flopped, but on which the inconsistency shines through most glaringly of all. The matter of Obama-care is a big issue for the electorate, since more than 60% of Americans still oppose it. The problem is, Romney can’t use it. He enacted a program that has been called “the model for Obama-care” while governor of Massachusetts. Independents and moderates may not be strictly ideological, but they know an inconsistency as glaring as that when they see it.
On the one hand, Romney promises to issue a waiver to any state that wants one, but what did he do to his own home-state of Massachusetts? Did anybody there get waivers? No, that program is now bankrupting the state, and you can imagine that this too will come back to haunt him. More, there is no known provision in Obama-care that actually permits waivers, and while Obama has been issuing some waivers, it’s clear that if he should leave office, there would be immediate legal challenges to such waivers. He has also admitted that he would effectively reshape Obama-care, but not seek to repeal it, though it depends on the day of the week how he’ll answer. The best I can gather is that if Congress sends him a repeal bill, he might sign it, but that’s a long way from a done deal.
It is for this reason that Romney will be neutered on the matter of Obama-care, and as you saw in 2010, that’s still a hot issue with voters. To surrender an issue of this type, where so much energy is on your side, and so thoroughly identified with your opponent is to yield the election if it’s anywhere near close. Independents and moderates will note that Romney’s own plan wasn’t far from Obama’s, and that will be the end of Mitt Romney in 2012.
We’ve been over most of this ground many times, and rather than further pound it into the ground, I’d like to know from conservatives how you think Romney will walk back this inconsistency. I’d like to read your responses in terms of how he can win a campaign in which he will be forced to yield one of Republicans’ strongest issues against Obama. I’m not trying to put you on the spot, but I am interested to know. Remember, it’s all well and good to tell me he can capture the nomination, and he might well do so, but it’s another thing to argue that he’ll be able to draw a clear distinction between himself and Barack Obama. I don’t believe he can do so in a positive sense, and that the only distinctions voters will notice is that he is another rich guy who can’t relate to voters.
At this point, you shouldn’t be imagining how he will side-step his inconsistencies, because he can’t, but instead explain to me how he’ll overcome the campaign Obama will put up. It will consist of class envy, that works on independents and moderates, and it will be pointing out his flip-flops, all of them, that works on independents and moderates. It will be the revelations about which you do not yet know concerning Mr. Romney’s tax returns that he still refuses to release. It will be other issues dealing with Romney’s financial backing, and it will be every manner of thing I can scarcely imagine. On McLaughlin Group this week, Eleanor Clift hinted at what is coming, and you can bet it will get worse from there. I will bet you that there will be a commercial done from the point of view of a dog, being loaded into a pet carrier on roof-top, forced to endure the wind and rain and violence of a ride atop the car, with the narrator saying: “If Mitt will treat his own family dog this way, how will he treat you?” This by itself will be good for five points in the polls. I note this because my own bride said of him when this story crossed the wire: “Cold-hearted ba$$(@!#)”
So again, my question to you is simplicity itself: Can you explain to me what it is that Mitt Romney offers that recommends him to independents and moderates as better than Barack Obama? If you can’t answer me, how will you answer them? How will Romney? If you nominate him, that’s fine, but I don’t think most of you want to do so. I think most of you are like me, looking around for better options still. The problem is that if Romney is our nominee, we will have difficulty making the case even to the Republican base and Tea Party to energize and unite behind him, and many will simply stay home. He will never bring a single Ron Paul supporter along, as far as I can discern, although there are those who argue none of these can do that. What I am asking you is for an explanation as to how his supposed electability translates into victory in November 2012, and the problem is that I don’t think you can, unless Obama completely implodes, which he won’t. Make your case for Romney independent of any any assumptions about events that you think might help him. Don’t assume 8.5% unemployment, but assume 7.5% and declining. Don’t assume all of the factors you’ve been told to consider. Stack them up side-by-side and tell me how Romney differentiates himself from Obama to the degree that risk-averse independents and moderates who voted for Obama last time now cross over. Tell me how Romney motivates the GOP base better than John McCain, who would have lost by twice the margin if not for Sarah Palin. Tell me, because I can’t figure it out. I’m doing the math, and it looks pretty abysmal.
A number of Republican candidates have begun to assail Mitt Romney on the basis of his time with Bain Capital, notably Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, but the criticisms they level miss the mark in most respects, and worse, play upon the very worst arguments of leftists who say capitalism is inherently evil because it seeks profit and will occasionally lead to short-term job losses. I have no problem criticizing Mitt Romney when it’s deserved, as these pages witness, but I have definite problems with this approach to attacking Romney. It’s not that he’s immune to attack, and as I have covered, not everything ever done under the banner of Bain is beyond reproach, but this idea that buying companies, and subsequently liquidating them to turn a profit is a bad thing is quite obviously not one of them.
I have some pointed advice for former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and my own Governor, Rick Perry of Texas: If you want to criticize Mitt Romney, stick to those parts of his record where he actually did something wrong. Don’t berate him with the same things Obama will use to appeal to his base, but instead concentrate on those things that appeal to the conservative base. In short, focus on how Mitt Romney governed.
It’s amazing when even Ron Paul defends Romney on this point, while Gingrich and Perry attack. None but the ignorant who live in a capitalist nation should have a problem with the aspects of capitalism that seek profit, sometimes by liquidating assets. That’s not altogether unlike you having a garage sale and getting rid of things you aren’t using, or that are not up to snuff any longer, trying to recover some of their value before they become effectively worthless. The money you re-capture by such a sale certainly helps you to pay other bills, or buy new items that more fully suit one’s purposes. You can take the cash and invest it in a completely new venture. This is an important function in any market, including in business, and to besmirch it as somehow wrong is a terrible disservice to the entire notion of capitalism.
I can name a number of things that Mitt Romney has done while governor of Massachusetts that deserve more than a little derision. The problem is that neither Gingrich nor Perry are apt to say much about them, since they’ve advocated or implemented similar. Gingrich formerly favored healthcare mandates, and while he’s reversed his position on that, it’s hard for him to take pot-shots at Romney on this basis without somebody pulling out the label “hypocrite.” Perry pushed for his Gardasil vaccine, and that too is a mandate, though of a different character and scale, but both speak to the same basic problem Romney has, and it’s worthwhile to note that where Gingrich and Romney differ on the healthcare insurance mandate is this: Only Mitt ever actually imposed one.
I have addressed Romney’s imposition of health-care mandates and the various other programs of a socialist nature he imposed while governor of Massachusetts, and it’s true that in terms of what he has actually enacted, he is certainly the most
socialistic big-government-inclined politician of the bunch. He is definitely the candidate the media will attack most vigorously for both his vices and his virtues, but it is disappointing to see Gingrich and Perry attack on this basis. If they’re smart, they’ll stop it, but part of the problem is that they’re falling into a well-laid trap set by the mainstream media: The media is left-biased in the extreme, so what Gingrich and Perry are doing is to pick up the criticisms that will travel farthest in the media. The media loves these attacks, and will revisit them many times over if Romney gets the nomination, but the attacks conservative Republicans should be aiming at Mitt Romney are not things the overwhelmingly liberal media wants to attack.
Falling for this is a terrible mistake, because it will not be the liberal media that chooses the Republicans’ nominee. Gingrich is right to point out that Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan is a terrible leftist disaster, and that Obamacare had been largely modeled after it. Perry would be right to raise Mitt’s “Welfare Wheels” program, or any of the other big government ideas that advanced while Romney was governor there. Either would make perfect sense explaining how Romney was a friend of Teddy Kennedy’s legislative agenda, or how Romney was the beneficiary of crony capitalism on a few occasions. Nobody on the conservative side would be offended by that. The problem is that both of them are vulnerable on similar issues, and while perhaps to lesser degrees, they still have some explaining to do. The problem is that it’s all the easier to simply attack Romney from a point of view more appealing to leftists in part because the media will transmit that message more willingly, but also in part because they believe they will get away with it.
I’d issue this challenge to Governor Perry and Speaker Gingrich: Tell us the things about Mitt Romney’s record that condemn him as a big-government statist, and those things that mitigate the timber in your own eyes on these issues, and we’ll get along famously. I’d issue a further challenged to Governor Romney: Be prepared to explain in some sensible terms why tyranny imposed at the Federal level is bad, but at the state level, it’s no problem at all. His pathetic “federalism” excuse for Romney-care doesn’t cut it, and never has. Governor Romney can impress the hell out of me by explaining to the American people why capitalism is good, but then he’s going to need to explain why he undertook so many programs and laws as the governor of Massachusetts that did nothing but undermine it.
This has been the sick irony of this insufficient field. It’s why 58% of Republicans don’t really like any of these candidates. Gingrich and Perry had better drop the politically expedient attacks that are merely anti-capitalist rants, and instead hammer on Romney for those things that were egregiously offensive to liberty, and they’d better prepare when questions are raised about their own big-government reflexes. Otherwise, voters just might get wise to this whole sad game, and walk away from the party this fall. After all, what is worse? A nominee like Romney who would effectively govern like Obama, or a nominee who relies upon Obama’s tired class-warfare and anti-capitalist rhetoric? Neither do I want a nominee who subverts capitalism in governing, nor do I want one who assails it in the press. We need a president who will undertake to restore capitalism, and I don’t see much evidence that any of these three will do so.
This has been the question that has haunted Romney since he began his half-decade campaign for the Presidency: Why don’t conservatives trust him? Why don’t they support him with wild-eyed abandon? One of the fundamental problems is Romney-care, but more than this alone, there is a general sense among conservatives that Mitt Romney isn’t one of us. He doesn’t view the world or the role of government in the same way as conservatives do, and inasmuch as this may be true, he won’t be willing to reverse any of the socialist programs with which we’ve been saddled. More, it is his indefinite pronouncements on the direction of our country that give conservatives reason to worry: He tells us we’re heading in the “wrong direction,” but without ever telling us what is concretely the “right direction,” except in similarly vague terms. Conservatives have heard all of this before, and we’re not enamored with where it has landed us. Let us consider the issue of Romney-care, and what it may tell us about what drives Romney’s thinking.
Romney-care is the Massachusetts health-care program that was begun under his leadership. He stands by that program, arguing that states may do such things as impose mandates on their citizens, but the federal government may not, and that this nuanced difference is his escape clause. Of course, the first printing of his book told readers it was a program with national potential, but that line has been removed from subsequent printings. Let us first assume he is correct (though he isn’t,) and that the concept of federalism lets him off the hook, and that on such a basis, it was permissible for the state of Massachusetts to do a thing the Federal government may not. That a thing may be done still doesn’t mean that it should be done. What the Massachusetts health-care program’s mandate and his willingness to enact it tells us about Mitt Romney is that at some fundamental level, he doesn’t believe individuals should have sovereignty over their choices, their lives, and their bodies, even as at the same time, he held the view that women should be able to abort their children as a matter of free choice.
If you consider this contradiction, it is astonishing at first blush, and you might wonder how he reconciled the two views. The simple answer could be that he didn’t, but instead treated them as different matters in different contexts, however this is only possible if he has no principles whatever. The other answer for this contradiction is that you and I are evaluating this through our lenses, but not through his. What could make the difference in this question is that while you and I consider it under the microscope of individual liberties and rights, Mitt Romney scrutinized it under a very different lens with entirely different filters: He viewed it as a question of what was in the best interests of the state. Only under that sort of lens can this contradiction be erased. From the point of view of the statist, the government has a vested interest in controlling health-care costs irrespective of individual wishes, desires or needs; likewise in the interest of the state, tamping down reproduction by any means is a good method to restrain all costs across the board.
Once you have been equipped with this alternate lens, Romney’s apparent contradiction on the matter is eliminated, but in its place is something remarkably worse: An abiding consistency to serve the interest of the state over individual rights. In Mitt Romney’s view, the rights of individuals are fine unless and until they come into conflict with the state, at which time he defers to the governmental interest. This is the precise problem with Romney’s Massachusetts health-care reforms, in precisely the same way as it is the problem with Obama’s.
Of course, all of that is only valid insofar as we accept his argument about federalism, and that Massachusetts has the right to violate the individual liberties of residents to a greater degree than does the Federal government. In confronting Obamacare, various constitutional scholars are quick to point out that there is no precedent for the Federal government requiring the purchase of anything. Romney’s crowd adheres to that position, and instead points to various states’ mandates to purchase auto insurance. This too is a lie, because it ignores something fundamental about the nature of the car insurance policy that the state requires you to purchase: They can only require that you purchase liability insurance. They cannot compel you to purchase collision, comprehensive, or any other form. Instead, all they can compel you to do is buy insurance to cover the damage or loss you and your car may impose upon others. They can do nothing to compel you to insure against your own losses.
This is precisely what a health-care mandate requires you to do, and it’s the reason that even the phony argument about federalism falls by the wayside in this instance. What Romney’s Massachusetts health-care plan does is to compel individuals to insure their health on the premise that the state should avoid the costs, but the problem with this is that a state’s health-care spending is entirely permissive: There is no requirement under law or logic that a state pick up any health-care costs. Thus is it that in order to justify the necessity of the mandate, the state must first exceed its proper role and function, and make of it a mandatory role. This too is a consistent position of the statist, and it’s why on the issue of Romney-care, no actual conservative can support Romney in good conscience: His is a view of individuals ultimately in compulsory service to the interests of the state. Just like Obama.
Translating this view across every conceivable issue, what conservatives can very easily imagine is another president who casts the long shadow of the state across every aspect of their lives. This is precisely what we do not need, and yet this is who the party establishment and the media now offer up as our “inevitable nominee.” Conservatives are right to distrust anybody who comes to the podium and offers vague answers about the direction of the country, because what Romney dare not reveal to you is the set of lenses through which he views our problems. Romney doesn’t see big, socialistic government as a problem, but instead only quibbles about this particular implementation of it. That is the fact with which conservatives are now confronted, and it’s no secret that they’re almost uniformly unhappy about it, although neither do they possess a single alternate solution. Romney-care is just one issue among many in which Romney can be seen as little different from Obama, but his view on TARP and other matters is not dis-similar either. In the end, he said of the various bail-outs undertaken by Bush and Obama that they were necessities. For whom? The answer they always disguise is the same: These actions were in the “interests of the state.”
If you want to know why conservatives don’t trust Romney, you really need look no further than this. His reflex to accommodate the interests of the government at the expense of individuals lies at the heart of the matter. In this respect, he’s no different from every other “big government liberal” who are really just socialists, but in less “divisive” language. Statism is a disease that grows like a cancer in the hearts of lesser men, because they do not trust to others the proper self-governance even of their own lives. If we want a candidate who will meddle in our lives, and ignore individual liberties in the interests of the state, we might just as well re-elect Obama, because after all, if the interests of the state are to be the supreme yardstick in all cases, then all we need do is shut up and pay for it. This is why conservatives don’t trust Mitt Romney, and it’s why we ought not nominate him, much less elect him.