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Scoffing at Romney's health care explanations

May 17, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Former Massachusetts governor and presidential aspirant Mitt Romney defended his record on health care, and the attempt at a comprehensive solution - a plan that includes a consumer mandate to purchase health care - he signed as governor. And reactions have not been favorable.

David Kendell of Third Way observed on NPR that Romney's claim that the federal health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama differs from the Massachusetts state law he signed because the state law he signed didn't raise taxes in any way is true ... because federal appropriations to the state of Massachusetts - federal deficit spending - funded the Massachusetts law.

James Antle at the conservative American Spectator believes "the best arguments for repeal (of the federal law) are the real-world failures of (Romney's) own health care plan in Massachusetts." Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner filed a story on the day of Romney's speech chronicling "the top five failed defenses of RomneyCare." Jonah Goldberg, blogging for the American Enterprise Institute, called the speech a disaster.

Perhaps the toughest criticism was from MIT economist Jonathon Gruber, also speaking to NPR. Not because of Gruber's observations that delegating oversight of insurance policy standards and practices and allowing people to purchase health insurance over state lines effectively gives one or two state legislatures a veto over the regulations in the other 48 or 49 states. Not because of any invective or hyperbole Gruber deploys - "totally inconsistent" is about as rough as he gets - but because he consulted and advised on both the federal law Obama signed and the state law Romney signed.

Or perhaps the toughest criticism - specifically of Romney's attempts to triangulate his support for consumer mandates at a state and not federal level - is that Romney still fails to address that he has in fact endorsed federal consumer mandates. As the Examiner's Klein notes, as recently as 2007 Romney contradicted Charles Gibson when Gibson suggested Romney was against federal mandates, saying "no, no, I like mandates. The mandates work." And in his bid to represent Massachusetts in the Senate in 1994, endorsed a health care plan proposed by Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island that included a national consumer mandate.

 
 

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