Mitt Romney vs. Health Care: “Why RomneyCare Makes Mitt the BEST Nominee to Face Obama”

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

It’s often revealing to turn conventional wisdom on its head and see what’s really hidden underneath.   You’ve all heard it, I’m sure, that RomneyCare is Mitt’s doom, an albatross around his neck, his biggest weakness as a potential candidate.  In Part 1 of this series I detailed not only how grave some people feel this issue is for Romney’s chances, but also pointed out that Obama and his team of key operatives (Axelrod, Gibbs, and Daley) are all praising RomneyCare as ObamaCare’s predecessor in an effort to hurt Mitt with the GOP’s conservative and libertarian bases.  However,  below I present what a great asset and strength Romney’s history and experience with health care will be to him as a general election candidate against Obama.

Yes . . . for the purposes of this post I am skipping the GOP primary altogether and how health care will effect that outcome.  Don’t worry, I will address those issues thoroughly in later installments of this series.  But sometimes it’s important to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the carrot at the end of the stick, to give a proper and more accurate assessment of the situation one is currently in.  Winning the GOP nomination and imagining how well Mitt could tackle Obama on health care is that light/pot/carrot.  Some Mitt fans or fence-sitters may be guilty of hand wringing and fretting over how RomneyCare might really be the big problem that so many are saying it will be.  This post is for you folks in particular.  

First off, it’s always wise to take a step back and look at the big picture.  Health Care promises to be a big topic in the upcoming 2012 presidential election no doubt . . . but I can guarantee that it will not be the biggest. It never has been the number one issue on people’s minds and I see no reason for that to change (“It’s the Economy Stupid!“). The Exit polls from our most recent election cycle show “The Economy” dominating voter’s hearts and minds:

The economy isn’t just the most important issue to voters this year . . .  it’s roughly twice as important to them as the other top issues of concern combined . . .  Sixty-two percent of voters name the economy as their most important issue this year. Health care ranks a distant second, at 19 percent. Illegal immigration and Afghanistan follow at 8 and 7 percent.

The 2008 Presidential exit polls also showed that “The Economy” was far and away the biggest issue on people’s minds.

The economy dominated voters’ concerns at historical levels in the presidential election . . . Fully 62 percent of voters said the economy was the most important issue, six times more than cited the war in Iraq (10 percent), health care (9 percent) or terrorism (9 percent)

“The Economy” topped the 2004 presidental exit polls , and it was, again, more than triple the importance of “Health Care” in the 2000 exit polls (26% vs 8%).  And, lest you think I’m quoting outdated info, Gallup release poll results earlier this month confirming the currency of these sentiments.  “Unemployment” and ”The Economy in General” totaled 64% while “Health Care” was only 16%.  And in the crosstabs of all these polls, “Health Care” is consistently a top issue for more Democrats than either Independents or Republicans.  The Gallup poll showed it being the top issue of only 13% of Independents and 13% of Republicans, compared to 24% of Democrats.  That split along political affiliation is important as each nominee works to bring the Independent voters into the fold while keeping their base.

Obama and the Democrats paid a heavy price at the ballot box last November for focusing on passing ObamaCare instead of focusing on the economy and unemployment

I think it’s plain to see that the GOP needs a nominee with “street cred” on economic issues, and there is no one better than Mitt Romney in this regard.  Hypothetically, even if Romney were the worst candidate the GOP could put up against Obama on the issue of Health Care, his economic bona fides would “cover a multitude of [health care] sins.”   There are others who also take the perspective that Romney will likely get a “pass” on health care from much of the GOP base because of the other strengths he brings to the table (article titled “Don’t count on health care ruining Romney in ’12” and, yes, it’s from Salon and is written from a snarky liberal perspective, but it makes some good points none the less).  However, I’m sticking to my guns and, as I said before, I aim to prove that Romney is actually the best nominee to go toe-to-toe with Obama on the issue of Health Care.

I read with great joy the ruling out of Florida declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional on grounds of “Federalism;” the 10th Amendment  Constitutional guaranteed that states reserve all powers not specifically granted to the Federal government.  It is looking promising that the Supreme Court will uphold this ruling.  Assuming this happens, the GOP nominee will have to be someone who has not only supported the idea of federalism for Health Care, but has put it into practice.   Mitt has consistently and forcefully denounced ObamaCare (while largely supporting RomneyCare) on grounds of Federalism.  He’s said from the beginning that RomneyCare was something crafted for Massachusetts and would not work for the whole country (nor should it be implemented federally even if it would work)

Why is this important?  Imagine if Mike Huckabee were the GOP nominee.  A DNC attack ad could run: “Mike Huckabee says that he supports the Supreme Court’s overturning of the health care law.  He agrees with the ruling that the federal government shouldn’t try to fix heath care because that’s the responsibilities of the states.  But Governor Huckabee did nothing to improve the health care coverage of his people in the state of Arkansas during over 10 years at the helm.  If he couldn’t improve health care in a state as small as Arkansas, why would the American people trust him to fix health care problems nationally?”   Obama could play the victim during a debate claiming that the States have been derelict in their duty to fix health care problems and could jibe ”Mike, you’re at fault for that!”  Obviously, the same could be said of most of the other serious potential candidates seeing that the were governors as well: Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Gov. Sarah Palin, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Gov. Christ Christie, Gov. Jeb Bush, etc . . .  but not of Gov. Mitt Romney.

In fact, whether or not ObamaCare is declared unconstitutional, Obama could argue that these governors were actually responsible for ObamaCare happening in the first place  because they did nothing substantial to fix health care during their tenures in their own states; that therefore, the Federal government had to step in and act to avert crisis.  That’s a much more substantial and potentially damaging argument than “ObamaCare and RomneyCare are similar so Romney is a hypocrite to reject one and embrace the other,” wouldn’t you say?

Whether or not ObamaCare gets ruled unconstitutional, Romney stands on the best grounds to go toe to toe with Obama in a Presidential debate.  After Obama expresses disbelief that Romney could be against ObamaCare since it’s so similar to RomneyCare, Mitt could retort:

“You keep saying the law was crafted after ours in Massachusetts, but neither you, nor any Democratic leaders in congress (Pelosi/Reid) even so much as gave me a call or asked my opinion about what was working and what wasn’t. If you’re going to use something as a template, common sense says that you do your due diligence in assuring that the template is adequate and functional.  If you were using my law as a template, why did you never contact me to discuss it? ”

Romney has shared this idea before in an interview:

Q: There are obvious similarities between ObamaCare and what you did in Massachusetts. Do you acknowledge that what you did in Massachusetts has become a model for nation under Obama, whether you wanted it to or not?
A: I can’t speak for what the president has done. I don’t know what he looks at. He never gave me a call. Neither he nor any of his colleagues [gave me] a call to ask what worked and did not work, and how would they improve upon it and so forth. If what was done at the state level, they applied at the federal level, they made a mistake. It was not designed for the nation.

Potentially the most powerful and effective tactic Romney could use is to turn the tables on Obama and point out how fiscally irresponsible it was to pass such large and sweeping legislation during a time of “double-digit unemployment, economic crisis, and record-setting federal deficits.”  That he was ramming through a partisan and liberal bill with no honest or realistic foresight to it’s long-term economic implications.  After sourcing warnings, statistics and estimates of ObamaCare’s ever-expanding cost projections (including the CBO’s projection that it will cost 800,000 jobs and the “fuzzy math” used to estimate the bill’s costs), Romney could say:

The Heritage Foundation helped craft many key portions of RomneyCare, including the individual mandate

“Mr. President, where is the money coming to pay for ObamaCare? From your ”stash?”  Your version of health care reform won’t balance the budget, it will break the bank and bankrupt businesses!  I would never sign a bill that was projected to put nearly one million Americans out of work and I’m disappointed that you did.”

Romney will be effective at turning “Health Care” into an economic issue and this will hit home with voters more than any perceived “inconsistency” between ObamaCare vs. RomneyCare.  Remember, “It’s the economy stupid!”

Romney could also effectively highlight his own differences in leadership and procedure in reforming Health Care between Massachusetts compared to what Obama did for his plan (this will be expounded upon and sourced in great more depth in a separate and forthcoming installment).  Mitt could draw a powerful contrast in a debate as such:

Artist credit: Brian Higginson - Mitt Romney Central

When we reformed Health Care in Massachusetts we spent two years working toward a consensus.  We had overwhelming public opinion support, input from the entire political spectrum (From The Heritage Foundation to Ted Kennedy), and finally passed a 72 page bill with a vote of 198-2 in the state legislature . . . getting whopping majorities from Republican, Democratic, and Independent lawmakers. 

Contrast that to the bill you rammed through Congress in a matter of a few weeks and foisted upon the American people . . . a 2,700 page monstrosity that we were told would have to be passed before we could know what’s in it.  A bill that squeaked through Congress by the slimmest of margins (219-212; meaning that it would have failed if only four Representatives had voted differently) only after well-documented strong-arming and promised political favors . . . all this with not a single Republican voting in favor of it and 34 members of your own party voting against it.  A bill that is a ugly stain on the fabric of our nation both for the ends that it aims to achieve AND the means by which it became law.   

Mr President, based on the current unpopularity of your bill, and, in light of the 2010 repudiation of your party at the ballot box, I think it’s clear which type of leadership the American people prefer.  Leadership that is deliberate and wise, that is not in a rush to score a political victory no matter the cost, that respects their voices and works for THEIR best interests.  Wouldn’t you agree?

One other advantage Romney has is that he would never be “out of his depth” while discussing matters of health care.  I can think of some potential nominees who might be.  Mitt is more versed on this issue in knowledge and in experience than anyone else the GOP has to offer.  To boot, Romney always comes off as competent and knowledgeable in interviews and debates . . . especially when he’s discussing core issues such as economics or health care.

You see, all the other potential GOP nominees may be able to cast stones at Obama’s attempt at health care reform from their seats on the sidelines.  They will be able to make some solid arguments for sure.  But, Romney has “skin in the game” on health care and won’t come off as simply a critic who has no better alternative to point towards.  He is someone who can and will personalize his objections to ObamaCare by drawing contrasts to his own plan and his own experience.  This will resonate with voters and it will make Romney, hands down, the best GOP nominee to debate Obama on health care.

Jeff Fuller, M.D.

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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29 Responses to Mitt Romney vs. Health Care: “Why RomneyCare Makes Mitt the BEST Nominee to Face Obama”

  1. Makeli says:

    Thanks Jeff, for putting these together. You’ve been able to articulate a few points i’ve been mulling over in my head. I like your hypothetical statements Mitt can maybe use. I can imagine him using the one about nobody called him for advice if Mass Health was the template.

  2. Sam says:

    Fantastic article. About as convincing an argument as anyone can make. GO MITT

  3. Lori says:

    I love this section “When we reformed Health Care in Massachusetts …..Wouldn’t you agree?”

    Awesome, simply awesome.

  4. BelieveInAmerica says:

    Great article!

    I think the left is actually doing a service for Mitt Romney by constantly publishing anti-MassCare articles nearly every day. It’s causing people to become far informed as to the true differences between the Mass. plan and ObamaCare.

    It would be far worse if the Health Care issue did not arise until we were deep into the Republican Primaries because the public would be broadsided by it. They would not have time to become informed on it, until it was too late, in a similar way that Romney was broadsided by Huckabee’s anti-Mormon attacks just before the Iowa Caucus.

    Judge Vinson’s ruling also really helps Romney’s chances, because it has caused more and more people to get a better understanding of why Federalism is so fundamental in this debate. States have powers to enact laws and, yes, even mandates upon it’s people that the Federal Government does not.

    The longer that the Health Care issue lingers in the minds of people, the more difficult it will become for the left to fool them into believing that ObamaCare is identical to MassCare.

    ————

    On an unrelated note, I really have been amazed at how similar current events have been to what happened just before Ronald Reagan was elected.

    * Reagan, like Romney, was Governor of a fairly liberal state.
    * Reagan, like Romney, changed his stance on abortion, becoming pro-life after cathartic moment in his Governership.
    * In 1976, Reagan, like Romney came in second place in the Republican Primary.
    * Jimmy Carter, like Obama, oversaw a terrible economy, high gas prices, and allowed Muslim extremists to take over a friendly state in the middle-east.
    * Reagan, like Romney, wrote a book in the meantime which helped them gain more popularity.
    * Reagan went on to win the 1980 nomination, beating one of the worst presidents in US history, and saving the economy.

    Reagan and Romney’s situations are so shockingly similar, it feels like deja vu. If Reagan could still become one of our greatest presidents ever, even though he had a change of heart on abortion, I believe Romney can as well.

  5. Noelle says:

    This is a great article, and reflects my feelings exactly. My question/concern is how do we get this point of view out into the media. Here we are more or less preaching to the choir, but this information needs to be shared where more people have access to it to counteract the distortions and biases that are so often presented in the media.

    In the meantime, I will share this on my Facebook page. I think it needs more exposure than that, though.

  6. Jeff Fuller says:

    @Noelle
    Noelle . . . I guess it’s best to just post a link to this in comment section to articles about Romney and spread it through Facebook/Twitter. Maybe email links of it to journalists and bloggers.

    I agree we need to get this message out. The mantra of “Mitt’s DOA because RomneyCare=ObamaCare” is being repeated so often it’s almost dizzying.

  7. @Jeff Fuller

    How many installments in this series?

  8. Deg says:

    Problem with general public is that they only go with “Sound-Bites”. We live in a superficial world where just the slightest defect can count you out. Hopefully the American nation can see past the lies and bigotry put out there by nay sayers.

    How does anyone get elected sometimes baffles me, but John McCain in 2008 was heart breaking. No one was Gun-ho about him, his election seem to be the result of team effort against Mitt. Everyone was reproducing any negative material that can slap on him.

    At one point I remember thinking how disgraceful it was to put out all your heart and soul out there only to have it stepped upon as something worthless. Romney’s family deserved a lot more respect than what he got. Hopefully justice will be served this time around, perhaps it was wiser to come in second place. Could Romney have beaten Obama last time around with the media playing a democratic tune to a liberal oriented society?

  9. Andrew says:

    Fantastic article about Mitt Romney! Sad to see the way MassCare is being used as a red herring to deceive people about what Mitt Romney would actually do as president.

    Run Mitt Run!

  10. Aaron Gundy says:

    Great article, Jeff!

    @Noelle Appreciate you spreading the word through facebook. I know you have a twitter account, too — If we all shared these types of post through twitter as often as we can, authors from larger media outlets may stumble upon the buzz and give us a plug. Any help in the twittersphere would be tremendous!

    Just a thought… go Mitt!

  11. Jeff Fuller says:

    I think at least 3 more . . . but probably 4 (maybe 5?)

    Unfortunately, brevity is not my strong point. I’m pretty thorough though. Why do you ask?
    1) How RomneyCare and ObamaCare are different
    2) Viewing RomneyCare through the prism of when it was passed and how Mitt got left holding the bag while conservatives fled the plan.
    3) There will be one discussing Mandates (may combine this with #2 above).
    4) The “Federalism” argument will be discussed in depth.
    and there might be one 5) on the strengths and weaknesses of RomneyCare and how he could most effectively discuss this on the trail.

  12. Jeff Fuller says:

    Also, this was just posted at http://race42012.com/2011/02/23/mitt-romney-vs-health-care-%e2%80%9cwhy-romneycare-makes-mitt-the-best-nominee-to-face-obama%e2%80%9d/ There promises to be some lively discussion over there I’m sure. Feel free to chime in with support!

  13. Annie Hamberger says:

    This is a valid argument. Experience is the best teacher and it works in politics too!
    GO MITT!

  14. Chris Gagne says:

    What a tremendous article. I think it is imperative that Mitt set up another public forum to hammer home these points to the American people. I would like to add, that I feel another good point in his favor is that although the majority of American people are vehemently against Obama care, there is a major consensus on both sides of the isle that our health care system needs to be overhauled in a way that would have the overwhelming support of both parties and the American people. Mitt can, with his past experience, present to the American people what he would and would not do in fixing the nation’s health care system. I believe that he would win the hearts and minds of the American people and would be on his way to the Republican nomination and the presidency.

  15. Dan says:

    Wonderful article! So simple and clear. Thank you Jeff! You bring to light so smoothly the fallacies in the arguments of Romney’s opponents. Go Mitt!

  16. Marilyn says:

    Great article. Romney is going to be very strong in 2012 and I think he can and will win the presidency. He has great integrity. I’m a former democrat turned Independent and I’ve been very disappointed in the current admin. I’m ready to vote Republican for the first time in my life, but it’s going to have to be Mitt. I can’t see myself voting for anybody else. Mitt just stands head and shoulders above all the rest in experience. After reading his book, No Apology, I found myself very surprised that I actually agreed with him on almost everything. If Mitt comes out for a change in our trade policies and talks about how we can strengthen America by strengthening our manufacturing base there’s no way he can lose. It is the economy, stupid and this admin has failed terribly.

  17. Bart Roberts says:

    @Makeli
    Leftist suckers, and obama-zombies, you need to realize that Romney is obama’s preferred “opponent!” (You already know that) A vote for Romney is a vote for obama. You anti-American Acorn employees are hell bent to destroy America, and Romney is obviously your ticket to keep hussein obama in office.

    Any inept, slightly undecided, and brainwashed voters who might be reading this website, you need to realize that Romney doesn’t belong anywhere near this election, Romney serves the will of obama! He serves George Soros. Ask him how much money Soros is paying him. Ask him how much money Mexico and India are paying him!

    Romney doesn’t even want to win; he serves Cass Sunstein, barry hussein soetoro, and other scum commie vermin like Van Jones, Bernidine Dohrn, and Bill Ayers! Ask Romney has much Acorn is funneling to him.

    Recommendation: Ask Romney to switch to the Democratic Party – he’ll fit right in with the rancid cesspool of liberalism, socialism, and worse.

    Oh by the way, naive brainwashed leftists, medical care regulation belongs to the states, NOT the federal government. Romney needs to take his socialized medicine and publicly bow down to obama!

  18. Heather Nash says:

    Wonderful article! So simple and clear. Thank you Jeff! You bring to light so smoothly the fallacies in the arguments of Romney’s opponents. Go Mitt!

    Visit GOP Mall for your Mitt Romney 2012 gear!
    http://www.gopmall.com/candidates/president/mitt-romney/

  19. @Bart Roberts

    You’ve got a point there… except you’re completely wrong on virtually everything.

    You make a lot of points, but they are merely opinion. You offer no logic, data, or contextual history to back it up.

  20. Joe says:

    Wow Bart . . . Romney and Acorn $?!?!? I don’t know what to even think about your absurd rant.

  21. CF says:

    Jeff:

    Romney supporters have become pretty good at defending 1-4 on your list of topics, however, personally I don’t think many people are well educated on #5.

    I think we need more “ammunition” on this topic. I’ve heard from a lot of people that RomneyCare is an abject disaster in Massachusetts, but I’ve also heard that it was a success. I’d like someone to give an honest assessment of the legislation and break down exactly what it is doing well and how it is failing.

    Furthermore, it would be interesting to review the outcome of the 8 veto overrides and how those have impacted the law’s success. If Romney’s vetos had stayed intact, can we project any major differences in how successful the health plan would have been?

    I think this is extremely important to get across to the public, as I’m sure Romney’s position becomes far more defensible if people understand the current plan’s outcome vs the plan that Romney originally envisioned that was overridden by the Democrats.

  22. CF says:

    I’m getting tired of the charge that “Tea Party” members do not like Mitt Romney. The latest Gallup poll proves that Romney gets the most support from people that identify themselves as such (matching Huckabee’s 17%).

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

    This charge is complete BS and needs to be debunked.

    MSNBC makes the completely unsubstantiated claim that the Tea Party does not like Federal or State mandates. If this is the case, then why do Tea Party members give so much support to Romney?

    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/25/6130398-first-thoughts-the-2012-gop-battle-begins

    The answer is that it’s a lie generated by the left and MSM to destroy Mitt.

  23. Gregg says:

    Great article. I liked Mitt last election and will support him again. I’ve been trying to piece together what happened with the bill in MA and it sounds like the liberal legislature have continued piling on, if you will, to the original bill. Thus, making the costs go out of sight.

    Personally, I think Mitt should also say, “that while I am proud of the bill and continue to argue State vs Federalism, I would caution other states that are trying to do the same thing. I am a fiscal conservative and it will take dedication from other fiscal conservatives in the legislature body to keep a plan fiscally sound.” If any mistake was made, it was my belief that because of the overwelming support from both sides of the isle and the people of MA, I thought the bill would stay in its original form, thus costs would stay in line. Unfortunately, once the liberal wings were able to add to the bill, it made a good bill worse”……or something to that effect. Not an apology, but a recognition that the bill or other bills like it will be able to be changed in the future by other legislature bodies of the state govts. This I think would help him with the naysayers……and I agree that Mitt will clean President Obama’s clock on this debate.

  24. Jeff Fuller says:

    Great points Gregg . . . and you are correct about “piling on” without fiscal constraint by the Dems post-Romney. Your phraseology is great as well. I might have to borrow or paraphrase that for a future post. Thanks!

  25. Gregg says:

    Jeff, thanks for the kind words……borrow away if you think it will help us elect Mitt!

  26. Brad Trip says:

    Romney should drop out of the race and endorse a serious Presidential candidate – one that didn’t shove RomneyCare down our throats and pretend later on that it’s any different than ObamaCare. They both infringe on the rights of the People and force us to buy health insurance against our will. RINO Romney is nothing but an authoritarian and health care is but the beginning.

  27. @Brad Trip
    LOL. In what way did Romney shove RomneyCare down your throat?

    You need to brush up on your history of the implementation of RomneyCare before spouting stuff like that. You know nothing about Romney except what other people tell you.

  28. Gary Reinhold says:

    Great analysis Jeff. Suggest Mitt continue with the States right argument…even make it a major platform issue. Repeal Obamacare and let the States decide what’s right for them.

    Also suggest the opposition on both sides will use this issue to beat Mitt over the head with regardless of whether it is the real issue they have with him…wouldn’t surprise me tht if Mitt was able to look behind the facade it is still a Mormon issue for conservatives…especially the talking heads on FOX.

  29. nursetom says:

    Regarding the Obama administration’s illegal immigration policies, which is pretty much the same as those of the last three previous presidencies, “fuzzy logic” seems to be the order of the day. The reality is that we have somewhere around 20 million people living in the United States illegally. They became outlaws the day they entered. Those who are working are breaking more laws by committing fraud. Additionally, since we have no way of screening these lawbreakers, we should not be surprised to find that 30% of all prison inmates are illegal aliens. Federal law requires that all illegal aliens be arrested, and deported. Yet the fuzzy logic is to ignore the law and look at the potential for increasing the tax base and political power. Even if amnesty were even remotely acceptable, the failure to stem the tide of this insidious invasion gives new definition to the term “fuzzy logic”.