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September, 21st 2009

One of the most brutal, early takedowns I've ever read

– Liz Mair

This comes courtesy of Phil Klein at the American Spectator (I'm leaving out my usual italics so you can read it more easily): [intro]

There he goes again. Newsmax has published an interview with Mitt Romney in which he once again touts his big government Massachusetts health care plan as a monumental success:

"What we were able to accomplish was to get almost all of our citizens insured without breaking the bank and without having a so-called public option," Romney says. "I think the program is a real success and that it can teach lessons to other states, and to the nation."

To start with, Romney is wrong on the merits. Michael Cannon has done an excellent job documenting what a colossal failure Romneycare has been, bringing higher costs and longer wait times to citizens of Massachustetts. The Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation numbers Romney cites in his interview understated the cost of the legislation by, among other things, ignoring the program's cost to the federal government. Even the state's Democratic State Treasurer, Timothy P. Cahill, has told the Boston Globe that the promised savings from the universal health care legislation never materialized, and he cautioned that, "It's a warning for the federal government as it looks to do something similar.''

It's bad enough that Romney would be so dishonest about conditions in Massachusetts, but its worse that at a crucial time in the national health care debate, Romney is publicly defending liberal policies, giving ammunition for Democrats to argue that their proposals are moderate when in reality they would amount to a government takeover of health care. While Romneycare did not include a "public option," neither does the Baucus bill, which is nearly identical to Romneycare in every meaningful way. Like the Massachusetts plan, Baucus would mandate that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a tax, expand Medicaid, and provide government subsidies to individuals to purchase government-designed insurance policies from a government-run exchange. While free market conservatives have been trying to push back against Obama's insistence that mandates are not a middle-class tax hike, Romney is out there defending the idea of a mandate, by making the same arguments as Obama.

If Romney wants to advocate government-run health care policies, that's his business -- but he should not be viewed in any way as an economic conservative, and should not be seen as a credible conservative standard bearer in 2012. He's gone from being dishonest about his record to advance his own political career, to being dishonest about his record in a way that helps expand government and advance liberal policy goals.

***

Suffice it to say, I still consider myself to have big issues with Romney.  Is he better than Obama?  Yes.  But he's a deeply flawed candidate, and one who I cannot support.  I will freely concede that the above has influenced my thinking about the 2012 race, and not in a way that is favorable to Romney.  But I bet my thinking about him is still more favorable than Phil's-- I'm kind of surprised he didn't re-title this post "The Obama-Baucus-Romney Middle-Class Tax Hike."

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