Mitt Romney vs. Health Care: “The Problem” (Or is it?)

Part 1 in a developing series of in-depth analysis by Dr. Jeff Fuller (See Part 2 and Part 3)

Is Health Care a Problem for Romney?

It is now a central dogma of the GOP’s 2012 pre-primary that the biggest obstacle Mitt Romney will face is his history on the issue of Health Care – mainly that RomneyCare is similar to, and was a template for, ObamaCare (which Republicans rightly loathe).  In this multi-part series I will discuss the issue in depth and debunk some of the superficial and opportunistic fire (both “enemy” and “friendly”) Romney has been taking of late.

By way of background, as a practicing physician I live and breath health care everyday.  I strongly feel that, as Americans, we have the best health care available in the world and I’m proud to play a part in that.  I was actually first drawn to investigate Romney back in 2005 when the Massachusetts Health Care bill (alternatively called MassCare or RomneyCare) was first passed.  I was impressed with Mitt’s courage and skill in addressing such a controversial subject, and within such a liberal state.  The fact that The Heritage Foundation was on board with the plan gave me an extra level of comfort as well.  After thoroughly studying Romney’s history and platform on other issues as well, I strongly supported Mitt from that point, and continue to today.  There are definitely major problems with our healthcare system, but rarely do you find conservative leaders willing to tackle any of those problems.  It is almost ironic that it would have been a lot less headache politically for Mitt (in retrospect) if he had done nothing on this issue.  What’s the old cynical saying? “No good deed will go unpunished” seems to apply here.

Never afraid to speak his mind, Democrat Ed Rendell (who is often known for his candor), summed up Romney’s apparent conumdrum quite well:

“If I were in charge of the Republican Party – by the way, this will be the kiss to death to the guy I’m going to mention – Mitt Romney would be the candidate, no ifs, ands, and buts about it,” Rendell said Friday night. “He’s got the best credentials to talk about the economy and job creation,” he said. “But Mitt Romney, I don’t think can get the nomination, because of healthcare.”

It’s that last point that is becoming the new “conventional wisdom” regarding Romney’s imminent candidacy.  Even some conservative columnists have already written Romney’s obituary over the issue.  In dramatic and grandiose fashion, John Podhoretz recently wrote:

Mitt Romney cannot be the Republican nominee for president and he cannot be president. He is the author, in his Massachusetts health-care program, of the individual mandate that is the heart and soul of ObamaCare… If he runs, and he will, his origination of this policy will give his opponents in the primaries a stick so large to beat him with that no amount of clever one-liners purchased from high-paid freelance political speechwriters and joke writers will be able to mitigate the damage. And that’s to say nothing of Obama talking throughout 2012 about how he doesn’t understand what the Republicans are complaining about — one of their lead candidates agrees with him! To be completely honest, I can’t understand why on earth he is even bothering to run. This isn’t an albatross. It’s a two-ton weight chained to his torso, and he’s not Houdini.

Mitt Romney: A bold, courageous leader

It’s sometimes very obvious when an argument lacks solid logical strength, the author often covers that up with hyperbole and dramatization.

I mean some of the headlines are dire, right?  Politico: “RomneyCare Enough to Make Mitt Sick” or The New Republic: “Romney Death Watch” or Washington Post: ”Mitt Romney’s Health Care Gordian Knot” (Actually one sentence from this last article is a prelude to a later installment of this series: “Romney, of course, passed a health plan as governor of Massachusetts containing an individual mandate, unaware that conservatives would soon decide that this once non-controversial policy tool constitutes the gravest threat to American liberty since King George the Third.”)

Even Karl Rove has publically suggested that Romney apologize for the law and distance himself from it:

“Former White House adviser Karl Rove slammed potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday, saying the Massachusetts Republican will have to admit he is “wrong” on health care.”

Sorry Karly… but that’s not gonna happen.  Romney has consistently defended RomneyCare from Day One, as Governor of MA, as a 2008 candidate, when ObamaCare was passed, and still today (“but how could that be possible from such an opportunistic flip-flopper?” some may say).  The reasons for this are two-fold: 1) He truly does believe and stand by the underlying principles behind RomneyCare (though he’s said their are some imperfect aspects of the plan) and 2) it would be the absolute “kiss of death” for Romney to flip on the signature legislation of his tenure as a Governor, given the fact that Romney gets killed as a “Flip-Flopper” even on issues where there really is no significant change.  No one should hold their breath for Romney to disavow his history and convictions on health care.  It’s just not going to happen.  He’s already said that he “won’t apologize” for the law passed in MA.  Looks like Mitt’s living life according to his book title, eh?

The most telling factor is how orchestrated and early the White House has been in “dinging” Mitt on the issue.  Let’s start at the top with President Obama’s comment on Mitt/Health Care:

…when you actually look at the bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas. I mean, a lot of commentators have said, you know, this is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney passed in Massachusetts.

So, was this just a passing comment?  Or, as I would suggest, does President Obama already know that Romney would be his greatest threat and toughest challenger from the GOP’s current field?  That Obama is, therefore, trying to sink Mitt’s chances with the conservative base by “praising Romney’s contributions” to ObamaCare?  Obama is nothing if not a sly politician, and his comments are very calculated.  And there is plenty more evidence that this is a well-rehearsed  Obama White House “talking point” . . . his closest advisors and spokesmen are all reading from the same playbook.

Obama’s brand new Chief of Staff has shown that he knows how to read and apply the DNC’s talking points quickly.  In a CBS News article that sizes up the strengths and weaknesses of the GOP’s 2012 field of contenders, the chief weakness listed for Romney is his history on health care.

“President Obama’s Chief of Staff Bill Daley recently joked that “ObamaCare” used to be known as “RomneyCare.”

Another wing of the DNC attack machine (i.e. major liberal-leaning news outlets) are also already using the issue to cripple Romney’s potential support from the right.  Here’s ABC’s George Stephanopolus getting into the act (don’t forget George used to work in the White House for a Democratic administration).

Robert Gibbs just had to get in on the mix as well.  In his last press conference for Obama, the departing White House Press Secretary wondered if the words “Health Care” would ever come out of Romney’s mouth over the next two years.

The Scheming Duo: Obama & Axelrod

Most telling, however, is that David Axelrod, when asked about Obama’s potential 2012 GOP opponents, just couldn’t help himself:

Washington (CNN)- Top Obama advisor David Axelrod, who left the White House last week to lay the groundwork for the president’s reelection campaign, is already needling a potential Republican rival.

In an interview with USA Today, Axelrod goes out of his way to credit Mitt Romney for implementing a universal health care plan when he was governor of Massachusetts that shares many similarities with the White House-backed law that has proved so unpopular with Republicans.

“We got some good ideas from him,” said Axelrod in a clear effort to highlight Romney’s involvement with implementing a law similar to that which is so disliked among Republicans nationwide.

Now, please - figure me this: What reason could Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager (mind you), have to try to meddle with who the GOP chooses to nominate?  If Romney were a weak candidate that would be a “pushover” in the general election, do you think Axelrod would try to hedge up Romney’s way like this?  If they were salivating for a matchup against Romney, Obama’s team wouldn’t be trying to hurt him with the GOP base.  Don’t fall for this, true conservatives!

When Obama himself, and all his key operatives (Gibbs, Daley, and Axelrod) are trying to knee-cap Romney with the conservative base it points to a premeditated and orchestrated plan.  And that, my friends, speaks volumes.

**UPDATE: Since the original posting of this, Obama has, yet again, praised Romney for his role in RomneyCare as the pre-cursor for ObamaCare.  At that link I also listed yet another time Obama made the same association and another time he had Gibbs make it.  The tally is quickly approaching double-digits and, at this point, this “backhanded compliment” is well-established as a White House “talking point.”  All this attention is not going unnoticed by Team Romney, as Mitt himself recently quipped: “the President and his people spend more time talking about me and Massachusetts healthcare than Entertainment Tonight spends talking about Charlie Sheen.”  Nice one, Mitt . . . nice. 

****UPDATE 2: (April 17th)  Boston Globe writer Glen Johnson (who has STRONG liberal leanings) summed things up nicely in this YouTube video:

-Jeff Fuller, M.D.
*Stay Tuned: In the next installment (Part 2) I’ll argue that Romney is actually the absolute BEST candidate the GOP could run against Obama and ObamaCare.  Part 3 confirms “the bottom line” of all this . . . that Romney stands strong and consistant in his opposition to ObamaCare and promises it’s repeal, if he ever gets the opportunity.

About :

Jeff has been blogging for Romney since living in Iowa in 2006, when, as a physician, he was drawn to study Romney’s MA healthcare reform plan. A native of California, Jeff now claims to be a proud southern transplant (he currently lives and practices as a vitreoretinal surgeon in Birmingham with his wife and six kids) having lived in Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana for nearly all of the last 15 years. His recent hobby is doing triathlons, having completed his first (and only) Ironman Triathlon this past May.

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17 Responses to Mitt Romney vs. Health Care: “The Problem” (Or is it?)

  1. Nic says:

    This is excellent. Great analysis; agree 100% that Obama fears Romney the most.

  2. Romney '12 says:

    conniving devils…

  3. Chris says:

    Jeff, THANK YOU!

  4. Bill says:

    To repeat what I’ve said a dozen times on this website, the legislature of Massachusetts at the time was 85% Democrat. The bill that passed had eight sections that Governor Romney vetoed, and the legislature overrode all eight vetoes. The bill that would have been written had Mr. Romney been working with a more balanced legislature would likely have been very different.

  5. Lori says:

    I have been making to same point for months although not as eloquently as Dr Fuller. This is a conspiracy born in the whitehouse political committees–to saddle Romney with everything that is wrong with the Obamacare monstrosity. Why Romney is to blame for the whole of it or any of it is beyond me. But apparently it is not beyond some of my less studied fellow Republicans. What works in Massachusetts would never work on such a large national scale. If they had bothered to ask Romney that, he would have told them.

    I hope Dr. Fuller addresses the fact in his series that Romney did not force this down the throats of anyone as Obamacare did. That all Massachusetts factions, parties, concerned groups of doctors, insurance companies, patients, were invited into the crafting of it and this was a broad consensus and a worthy experiment.

  6. BelieveInAmerica says:

    Great article. This needs to be spread around the web as far and as wide as possible.

    • Romney is firmly committed to repeal of Obamacare.
    • Romney has repeatedly stated that Massachusetts Care is not good for the entire nation.
    • Romney vetoed many provisions of the Mass bill that was later overridden by Democrats.
    • The original Romney bill was far better and more practical than what the liberal Democrats did to it.
    • The Democrats overrode Romney’s original bill on a whole series of items.
    • The Health Care system in Massachusetts is Constitutional, while ObamaCare is not.

    James Madison, author of the United States Constitution, summed it up as such:
    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”


    Mitt Romney’s accomplishments:

    • Attended Standford University, before serving 30 months in France as a Christian Missionary.
    • Fluent in French as a second language.
    • Brigham Young University Summa Cum Laude graduate.
    • Graduated Summa Cum Laude and in the top 5% with a JD and MBA degree from Harvard Law and Harvard Business Schools.
    • Earned over 260 million in the private sector – 25 years.
    • Lead Bain and Company, Inc. from 1978 to 1998, managing a highly successful turnaround without layoffs.
    • Founded, acquired or invested in hundreds of companies including Staples, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Brookstone, Domino’s, Sealy Corporation and The Sports Authority.
    • Served as President of the 2002 Winter Olympic games, turning a $300 million deficit to a $100 million surplus – one of the most successful Winter Olympics on record.
    • As Governer of Massachusetts he took a 1.5 BILLION dollar deficit and turned it into a 600 million dollar surplus without raising income and other taxes (he did raise some “fees” on other services – about 2 million worth).
    • 2012 presidential candidate that contributed the most money to Republicans in the 2010 midterm election.

    Mitt Romney is the smartest, most qualified, and most level-headed candidate to lead our nation out of the financial mess that it is in. He has consistently proven it in both the private and public sector throughout his life. He has the largest grassroots political organization and the most financial support. He has polled consistenly as the strongest contender to beat Obama in 2012.

    “Change We Can Believe In” has failed.

    BELIEVE IN AMERICA, elect Mitt Romney!

  7. Michael C. says:

    Everybody loves to rip on the frontrunner. In the 60s, every pundit was sure they’d seen the last of Richard Nixon… Until he won in 1968.

    Now, everybody will be sure that frontrunner Romney will be DOA… until he wins in 2012. Vindication comes through victory.

  8. Jeff Fuller says:

    @Lori

    Absolutely going to make that point Lori! The differences between the two laws AND how they became law are HUGE!

  9. Aaron Gundy says:

    Great piece, Jeff! Looking forward to the rest of the series, and many more insightful posts in the next few years…

  10. JonH says:

    I support Mr. Romney and appreciate Dr. Jeff Fuller’s intelligent essay. Unfortunately, unless more people get to learn the facts Dr. Fuller’s efforts will largely mean nearly nothing. The percentage of conservatives that read this blog against those who need to are so small it will make no ripple in the sea of conservativism mysticism. It was not an issue in the last election and Mr. Romney only rallied troups for a second place finish. Now, the perception based twins: Obamacare and Romneycare are a rallying point for many who know the basics of conservatism but are so easily swayed by other TRUSTED conservatives they won’t take the time to study the facts unless………..what? Someone needs to figure out how to get the message out there beyond the loyal choir.

  11. JonH says:

    Why do you think The Heritage Foundation pulled it’s support for MASSCARE? It was too hard to get the message out to correct the flawed thinking of the conservative base and the overall general electorate. They have teams of brainy guys who hit talk shows all over the country every single day……….and they pulled the plug on their support even after they helped create it. Wait until the expert from MIT, Jonathan Gruber who helped Mr. Romney set-up Romneycare and now supports both MASSCARE and OBAMACARE creates his comic book edition of the healthcare plan and how great it is. It’ll be easy to read and understand. Many of the foolish conservatives will read it and think they’ve done their homework….a lot of others will too. Unless……..someone can get the word out far and wide before the Fall publication hits the bookshelves, newsstands, the internet, magazine and newspaper articles, and the MSM. This will be a mega best seller with all the attention it will generate for President Obama.

  12. Katrina says:

    Wonderful article and comments. I look forward to the rest of the series!

  13. Jeff Fuller says:

    Thanks for the kind words. Will come out with part two next week sometime.

  14. Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia who is waging a one-man war on ObamaCare, recently said that he has no problem with Romney’s plan in Massachusetts.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2011/02/cuccinelli-not-opposed-mass-mandate

    Whether he really doesn’t or he just really likes Romney, he’s certainly doing himself no favors with Tea Partiers by saying so. This is a conservative hero, who, while he may not exactly be making a full-throated defense of Gov. Romney, will certainly not go out of his way to be a stumbling block for him in Virginia; or on Fox News, for that matter.

  15. GG says:

    The only comparison this article makes between Romneycare and Obamacare is the number of pages. So much for making an argument that includes solid strength.

    The bolded quote by John Podhoretz says it all. I voted for Romney in the last primary, before I had heard about Romneycare. I won’t make the same mistake again. His religion also sinks him with the rest of the base. Don’t run, Mitt.

  16. BelieveInAmerica says:

    @Stephen Monteith

    Actually people who identify themselves as Tea Party members identify with Mitt Romney more than any other candidate. See the gallup poll:

    http://sas-origin.onstreammedia.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/ycfek9yay0kqnl-osystbw.gif

  17. Jeff Fuller says:

    @GG

    CG, lol

    So you voted for Romney in 2008 without knowing anything about Romney’s signature piece of legislation while he was governeor and that he signed in 2005?!?!?! Oh that’s rich! How did you put it? That kind of self-incriminating fact “says it all” about the usefulness of you comment and opinion.