Last week was a big week for Mitt Romney. The Newt Gingrich bubble burst and the Romney resurgence began.
But the most missed story of last week was Gov. Romney’s health care victories. First, Romney’s proposal to reform Medicare got a big boost when it was adopted and sponsored by two very prominent members of congress, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) and Senator Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon. Paul Ryan is the popular conservative chairman of the House Budget Committee and is ranked as one of conservatives most influential voices on economic policy. Wyden serves on the Senate Budget and Finance Committees and is a health care expert in his own right. Wyden was widely considered as a top candidate to become HHR secretary under Obama. The fact that both of these leaders adopted Romney’s proposal speaks volumes about the quality of Romney’s plan and Romney’s ability to lead and develop bold yet realistic goals that will get things done for the American people.
Even Newt Gingrich, Romney’s chief rival for the nomination, praised the Ryan-Wyden health care bill as a “major breakthrough” in the last GOP debate in Iowa saying:
“Now, Gov. Romney, frankly, came up with a very good plan which allowed for the maintenance of the current (Medicare) system. Paul Ryan has adopted that, and I think in a very brave act by Senator Wyden, you now have a Democrat willing to co-sponsor the bill. I’ve endorsed the concept today. I think it is a big step forward and I think Gov. Romney deserves some of the credit for having helped figure out a way to make this thing workable. So I think it is a nice thing to actually have a bipartisan plan in Washington that we can actually look at in a positive way, and I hope will help save Medicare.”
Gingrich’s high praise for Romney is particularly surprising when one realizes that Newt and Mitt are running neck-in-neck for the nomination and given that Gingrich is often referred to as the “GOP’s idea man.”
The Ryan-Wyden Plan illustrates how Romney is able to develop bold goals that will produce results even in a difficult political climate. A lot of candidates will put forward a lot of proposals while running for office, but most of those proposals are ideas that just pander to the base of their party and have absolutely no chance of passing congress. The Ryan-Wyden plan shows Romney’s ability develop serious bipartisan solutions to America’s most difficult challenges. For a candidate who is not even in office yet, this is an impressive accomplishment.
The second victory Romney achieved last week in regard to health care came directly from President Obama. Obama finally caved in and conceded to Republicans by allowing states to have greater flexibility in crafting their own state plans.
The New York Times said this:
“In a major surprise on the politically charged new health care law, the Obama administration said Friday that it would not define a single uniform set of ‘essential health benefits’ that must be provided by insurers for tens of millions of Americans. Instead, it will allow each state to specify the benefits within broad categories.”
Why is this important? By giving states more authority to define their own health care programs, Obama is trying to avoid the “big brother” label on health care that is frequently used by conservatives. Obama is also trying to deflect the powerful argument made frequently by Romney that ObamaCare forces a one-size-fits-all standard for health insurance and usurps state authority to regulate the industry.
From the beginning, Romney has been pushing the Obama administration to allow greater flexibility to states, and in fact, what Romney ultimately wants is for each state to have the same degree of freedom that he had in Massachusetts to design and implement their own plans. One of the primary reasons Romney opposed ObamaCare is because it violated state sovereignty by taking away each state’s ability to create a unique plan, and then test that new plan in the ‘laboratories of democracy.’ Even though Obama’s move does not allow the full freedom that Romney would like, it represents a huge concession to Romney and the Republicans.
In conclusion, Romney has shown time and again that he is up to the task of reforming our nation’s most difficult and persistent problems. Health care costs in this country are astronomical with the U.S. spending almost 33% more per capita than other first-world countries. Most people do not realize that the U.S. federal government spends more money on health care than our entire national defense budget! Gov. Romney is the only candidate who consistently shows the breadth and depth necessary to handling meaningful entitlement reform in this country.