When Mitt Romney was seeking the Republican nomination in 2008, he deflected criticism of Romneycare by blaming its disastrous effects on the liberal legislature in Massachusetts. That was four years ago, when Romney was attempting to win the hearts of the conservative base as the alternative to John McCain.
This time around, as he seeks to eschew any ideological principles, Romney is pronouncing his signature healthcare reform as a meritorious and quite ideal plan, at least for his state. In fact, in recent days, he has gone so far as to proclaim MassCare as a fundamentally conservative principle.
“I’m happy to stand by the things that I believe. I’m not going to change my positions by virtue of being in a presidential campaign,” Romney said. “What we did was right for the people of Massachusetts, the plan is still favored there by three to one, and it is fundamentally a conservative principle to insist that people take personal responsibility as opposed to turning to government for giving out free care.” [emphasis added]
Romney owes Republican primary voters answers to two questions; one ideological and one political.
1) If Romneycare is built on such inviolable conservative principles; if Romneycare has been such an auspicious healthcare reform plan, then what is so terribly offensive about Obamacare? Yes, we’ve heard that dubious distinction between state governments having the ability to promulgate tyranny, whereas the federal government is constrained by the constitution. But why not amend the constitution so we can implement Romneycare (Obamacare) on a federal level? Why not share your paramount success with the rest of the nation?
Moreover, as conservatives, we believe the most offensive part of Obamacare is that it permanently raises the cost of healthcare and health insurance on everyone in the country. It represents the motherload of all market-distorters in an industry that is already plagued by high costs, due to the lack of a free-market. It also dumps scores of people on Medicaid. It is incontrovertibly clear that MassCare has engendered the highest premiums in the nation (indeed the other 92% of Massachusetts residents were affected after all),while dumping thousands of people onto federally funded Medicaid and disincentivizing people not to earn more money. Sounds a bit like Obamacare, huh?
Nevertheless, Romney obdurately denies these studies and insists that 92% of Massachusetts residents weren’t affected by implementation of MassCare. Let’s concede the point for a moment and say that Romney is correct. Now if Romneycare was so successful, and in fact, was not a catalyst for major spikes in premiums and increase in Medicaid enrollment, isn’t Obama correct when he says that most Americans who like their current insurance will not be adversely affected by Obamacare?
Again, how is Romneycare fundamentally conservative and a great success, yet Obamacare is supposedly the worst thing in the world? Is it the fact that Obamacare is funded by tax increases? Then lets just repeal the tax hikes and fund this laudatory and necessary program through deficit spending, like a good old compassionate conservative. The infinitesimal differences between Romneycare and Obamacare fail to account for the wide bifurcation of Romney’s attitude towards the two programs. The reality is that both programs are incompatible with American values of limited government; both seek to undermine individual liberty and responsibility.
2) Politically speaking, if Romney were to be the nominee, how can he assure us that he will be able to effectively use Obamacare – our biggest political weapon – to our advantage? Even if we concede that there are some differences between Romneycare and Obamacare, are they evident enough for him to feel comfortable while attacking Obamacare?
The bottom line is that we all know he will avoid Obamacare like the plague in the general election, thereby disarming Republicans of their most potent political weapon.
Romney’s primary vice is that he fundamentally has no conservative principles. While most of the other candidates have significant and diverse flaws – both personal and ideological – they have fought for conservatism on some level and at some point in their career. The highest honor in the Republican Party – the presidential nomination – should be bequeathed to an individual who has fought in the trenches for the ideals of the party. Romney, unlike any other candidate, has produced absolutely nothing for conservatives. Romney merely served for four years as a liberal governor, while promoting policies that are antithetical to our beliefs – with no counterbalance of conservative achievements to ameliorate his abysmal conservative record. His only contribution to the party has been his five-year interminable presidential campaign, despite his insistence that he never intended to run for office again after 2008.
Has our swift growth as a movement over the past few years been only to nominate someone like this for the highest honor of our party?