I was saving this to be the final part in this series, but Romney’s comments over the weekend in New Hampshire made it instantly timely and relevant to this on-going discussion.
Politico got the headline right, “Mitt Romney’s Prescription for ObamaCare: Repeal it.” I recommend reading or watching Mitt’s speech to the Carroll County GOP group in their entirety, but some specific comments stick out:
Obamacare has to be repealed and the other programs have to be made sustainable. . . . If we re-shape each of these programs today, and repeal Obamacare, we can honor our promises to seniors, and protect our economy as well. . . . At every turn, he and his fellow liberals sought to seize more power for Washington. And in that cause, nothing was more misguided and egregious than Obamacare!
Living in New Hampshire, you’ve heard of our healthcare program next door in Massachusetts. You may have noticed that the President and his people spend more time talking about me and Massachusetts healthcare than Entertainment Tonight spends talking about Charlie Sheen [link to part 1 in this series documenting all the "attention" Mitt's been getting from the White House on Health Care]. Our approach was a state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts. What we did was what the Constitution intended for states to do—we were one of the laboratories of democracy.
Our experiment wasn’t perfect—some things worked, some didn’t, and some things I’d change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover.
I would repeal Obamacare, if I were ever in a position to do so.
My experience has taught me that states are where healthcare programs for the uninsured should be crafted, just as the Constitution provides. Obamacare is bad law, bad policy, and it is bad for America’s families.
Can Romney be trusted to keep this campaign promise? Some skeptics will never be satisfied, but I challenge any reader to point out an actual instance where Romney broke his campaign promises as Governor of Massachusetts (should be pretty darn easy to do for someone who flips and flops with the political winds, eh?). Yes, Romney has a record of keeping campaign promises and can be trusted to keep this one.
And Romney’s been consistant in his opposition to ObamaCare and calling for it’s repeal. Immediately after passage, Romney called for it’s repeal, citing procedural and substantive reasons:
America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation — rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends. He promised better; we deserved better.
He calls his accomplishment “historic” — in this he is correct, although not for the reason he intends. Rather, it is an historic usurpation of the legislative process — he unleashed the nuclear option, enlisted not a single Republican vote in either chamber, bribed reluctant members of his own party, paid-off his union backers, scapegoated insurers, and justified his act with patently fraudulent accounting. What Barack Obama has ushered into the American political landscape is not good for our country; in the words of an ancient maxim, “what starts twisted, ends twisted.”
His health-care bill is unhealthy for America. It raises taxes, slashes the more private side of Medicare, installs price controls, and puts a new federal bureaucracy in charge of health care. It will create a new entitlement even as the ones we already have are bankrupt. For these reasons and more, the act should be repealed. That campaign begins today.
In May 2009, as Obama and congress were barrelling towards a health care reform bill, Romney offered 6 points of advice in an op-ed, the last of which was:
Center reforms at the state level. Open the door to state plans designed to meet the various needs of their citizens. Before imposing a one-size-fits-all federal program, let the states serve as “the laboratories of democracy.”
In a very informative and extensive interview Romney held with Human Events Online in July 2009, headlined as “Romney Attacks ObamaCare” he says of the President’s plan:
It’s filled with so many defects it’s hard to know where exactly to begin. . . . President Obama, out of an apparent desire to score a victory, is not willing to give health care the deliberative process it deserves. . . . [And he says regarding the "public option"] It’s a bad idea and should be rejected.
Romney also penned an Op-Ed in the USA Today in July 2009 entitled “Mr President, What’s the Rush?”
Fast-forwarding a bit, on April 7th 2010, at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, Romney said:
Had they brought the federal bill to my desk when I was governor, I’d have vetoed it,” . . . ”We solved a problem in the state with a state answer,” Romney said. “We didn’t have the federal government come in and intrude on the rights of states.” . . . Romney said the federal government created its plan without learning from Massachusetts or any other state. “It shouldn’t have been put in place without experimentation,”
Jumping back to the last presidential election primary, in Jan, 2008, all of the major GOP nominee’s (including Romney) were against a federal healthcare plan:
Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Huckabee, and Thompson are all opposed to health care reform measures that incorporate universal coverage. Tax breaks, high deductible plans, consumerism – all are fine, but no GOP presidential candidates support universal coverage.
Even waaaaaay back in 1993-4, Romney was against a federal ”Government Takeover of Health Care” . . . which, at the time, was known as HillaryCare. For completeness sake, Romney also opposed HillaryCare 2.0 in 2007.
Recent headlines are starting to see the forest for the trees. In an article titled “Voters: ‘RomneyCare’ not fatal” New Hampshire’s Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley wisely opined:
“People get it. … They know he is opposed to Obamacare. That’s the bottom line.”
I would only add to the “bottom line” that, not only is Romney opposed to ObamaCare, he will work towards and sign a repeal of the law as one of his first actions as our new President. You can take that one to the bank.
UPDATE: Two weeks after this posting, Romney has upped the ante on his rejection of ObamaCare and his willingness to fight for it’s repeal. In a brief National Review Online Op-ed on March 22nd entitled “If I Were President: ObamaCare, One Year in” he brought up a new angle that I hadn’t considered:
If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. The executive order would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them.
As I have stated time and again, a one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is simply not the answer. Under our federalist system, the states are “laboratories of democracy.” They should be free to experiment. By the way, what works in one state may not be the answer for another. Of course, the ultimate goal is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with free-market reforms that promote competition and lower health-care costs. But since an outright repeal would take time, an executive order is the first step in returning power to the states.
Powerful, pragmatice leadership, with both experience and foresight. That’s what our country needs in the White House, and that’s what Mitt Romney has in spades!
-Jeff Fuller, M.D.
*Stay Tuned: Future installments will address topics of 1) Federalism, 2) Mandates, 3) Whether or not RomneyCare is a “success”, and 4) a head to head comparison of RomneyCare vs ObamaCare. Previous installment titles: ”Mitt Romney vs. Health Care: ‘The Problem’ (Or is it?)“and “Mitt Romney vs. Health Care: Why RomneyCare Makes Mitt the BEST Nominee to Face Obama”