If Romney becomes the candidate, Obamacare is off the table.

Deal with it.

Andrew McCarthy of NRO puts his thumb squarely on one of the two central problems that I have with a Romney candidacy:

In 2008, Obamacare did not exist. In 2012, it vies with our astronomical national debt — to which it will prodigiously contribute — as the most crucial issue in the campaign. It is Obamacare’s trespass against the private economy and individual liberty that transformed the Tea Party into a mass movement, perhaps the most dynamic one electoral politics has seen in decades. And of all the Republican candidates, Romney is the weakest, the most compromised, when it comes to taking that fight to the president.

Sufficiently so that, if Romney becomes the nominee, I will have to resign myself to not having Obamacare on the table as something with which to attack Barack Obama with in the general election. I refuse to lie to my readers by pretending that there is any meaningful difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on this issue except for the truly trivial detail that the former only imposed it on the state level while the latter managed it on the federal one; and I certainly will not lie to my readers by suggesting that I have any confidence at all that Mitt Romney will do a blessed thing to either repeal or neuter the legislation.  I am a proud partisan hack; but I am also an ethical, proud partisan hack.

I am sure that this revelation – and the fact that I’m publicly writing it – is going to bother people.  Don’t look at me: I’m not the candidate who has managed to place himself on the wrong side of the single most energizing cause in American conservatism since Roe v. Wade.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

33 thoughts on “If Romney becomes the candidate, Obamacare is off the table.”

  1. Don’t worry, Moe- you’ll never have to worry about defending President Romney on his continuance of Obamacare.

  2. Can’t Romney make the case that there are better ways to help ensure universal coverage than the one he did in MA? Before Obama was elected and started propsing that monstrosity, McCain and Guiliani in particular had market-based plans that helped solve the problem ObamaCare never even looked at (really): Cost.

  3. In a word Notso, No. Romney has never repudiated the Individual Mandate. He believes the State has the right to tell people how to live their lives. I for one, will not go there, there is saying for where I stand, it is “Death First”. So I will not vote for a man who believes The State can tell me what to do or how to live my life, The State will DIE First! There is a reason my people are mostly gone from Europe! We are not nice people!

  4. Sadly, to neutralize ObamaCare as an issue is to shortchange the American people. When the bill begins to be implemented more broadly, employers–especially large public companies–will opt for the fines because those are cheaper than the insurance.

    This would be fine if we had a truly free insurance market. The corporate insurance giants will maintain their hold and the American people will be the losers. Many will be forced to select government plans.

    That the GOP power brokers are hellbent on electing a candidate whose conservate acts–not promises or rhetoric but acts–are less sound than those of every other candidate is significant.

    The GOP is inviting a third party. That may be good or bad, depending on how you look at things. But there is one guaranteed benefit–Democrats have their party faithful firmly in line because they have purchased votes with entitlements and benefits to select corporate and political class partners.

    My party has not done well for itself in handling this process. Turnout will be a challenge.

  5. We’ll have to see what the SC does to Obamacare. If they nix the mandate, that eliminates Romney’s worst liability. If they kill it all, then hooray, the republic is saved. If they leave it intact, then we’re (as a country) screwed. But that would be true regardless who the candidate is.

  6. Assuming for the moment that the Supreme Court leaves Obamacare intact, I think it likely that a President Romney would act to either modify or overturn the legislation — if we were very clear about that stance being in his best political interests.

  7. He may not be able to debate it—but it would be political suicide for him not to sign a repeal bill. He’s not stupid.

  8. @Demosthenes: “I think it likely that a President Romney..”
    @Occamstool: “but it would be political suicide for him not to sign a repeal bill”
    Sigh. How sad that the GOP candidate can’t run against Obamacare and that his supporters are reduced to using conditional sentences explaining what a President Romney “might” do.

  9. Ridiculous. Romney knows better than anyone what the economy killing pitfalls will be should Obamacare be implemented. He has known for over 2 years what attacks he will need to have a good defense ready. Since he thinks that health care is a state issue and there is no way a one size fits all will work nationwide, he’ll have no trouble going after Obama for the economic dummy he is. When he turns to Obama and says, “You should have called me first before trying this disaster,” what is Obama going to say? Is he going to whine, you should have told me, or would he retreat to his normal arrogant narcissistic self? Either way, he is screwed. Or Mitt could say, polls tell me that 61% of the people of MA are satisfied with the state’s affordable health care plan, 61% of all Americans want your Obamacare plan repealed. Enough said!

    1. As I said, folks: I’m not going to lie and pretend that there’s any real difference between Romney & Obama on this, and I’m not going to lie and pretend that I think that Romney is going to repeal Obamacare. The only person that can make me change my mind on this is Mitt Romney, and he’s invested just a little too much in this issue to make me think that he’s going to back down on still supporting Romneycare.

  10. *sigh* I going to vote for Herman Cain even if he is no longer running. My vote is now only a protest vote, which is really sad if you think about it too much.

  11. If Romney gets the nomination, for the first time in my life I’m probably not voting for the Republican nominee for either President or Congress. For President I can safely make a protest vote because if Romney manages to lose Texas he’s going to lose by about 200 electoral college votes, maybe more. And for the House, I cannot in good conscience vote for Lamar “SOPA” Smith. His anti-freedom stance makes him too dangerous to risk in the House. I’ll still vote for the down-ballot candidates – in Austin my votes definitely matter on those.

  12. romney is stuck with the mandate for now. He can’t flip flop that. But as president he will do everything he can to dismantle obamacare.

    We fix healthcare by growing the healthcare industry. Let new medical schools be built, by the hundreds. These medical schools should act like businesses, and grow enrollment to meet demand. Right now, med schools are run by academics, not businessmen. They don’t grow enrollment, they turn away the vast majority of applicants, and raise tuition each year.

    If we flood the market with tens of thousands of more doctors, competition for patients will heat up. This will lower healthcare costs. Insurance can’t do that, in fact it inflates costs. Insurance is risk management, it is not a care plan, or a pre-payment plan. Most healthcare should be paid for in cash, or you pay it off over time. The costs will plummet if we do this.

  13. “When he turns to Obama and says, “You should have called me first before trying this disaster,” what is Obama going to say?”

    Sara, he’s going to turn to Romney and say “well, I spoke to your RomneyCare advisers and they told me it was a great plan.”

    Romney’s defense against RomneyCare has and always will be: ‘It’s great and I’m proud of it’.

    If Romney’s the nominee, the issue will be off the table from the Republican side; but expect the Chicago Machine to be ready to throw it in his face as the precursor to Obamacare. If Romney wins the election, expect him to ‘work with both sides of the aisles’ to ‘fix it’. ‘Cause thats what he does….

  14. MA is the most liberal state in the union. MA would have passed RomneyCare without Romney, if he vetoed it. Nobody knew, at the time, that Obamacare would become so unpopular. And the public option is still popular with democrats, I think.

    Romney is very smart, he knows how to deal with democrats. He needs to win blue states to beat Obama. His position is the best position right now. Just relax. Romney is a fantastic candidate and will make a great president.

    1. …And that’s what you get to look forward to if Romney’s the nominee, folks: ten months of “‘Shut up,’ he explained.” I’d say “Sorry,” except it’s not actually my fault.

  15. jetty: I am not a Romney supporter. Strike one. But yes, if he’s nominated, I will vote for him. And I remain baffled by those people who say they wouldn’t. It’s like some of you actually WANT four more years for our current president. I wonder what Obama’s stance on repealing or replacing Obamacare will be…

  16. And as for you, wally, are you serious? Your defense of Romney is that Massachusetts would have passed it without him if he had vetoed it? Okay. Well, then. He could have vetoed it, saying that the law didn’t look financially sustainable to him (as it’s already proving not to be). Then if the issue had come up in a future run for president, he could have washed his hands of it while saying, “Yes, I wanted affordable health insurance for all, but I didn’t want it like that.” He didn’t do that, because he believed in it. He’s had numerous chances in the last two years to disavow Romneycare — to say “Well, I thought it was a good idea at the time, but it’s proven not to be.” He hasn’t done that, because he still believes in it. His only defense is the federalist one that it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to interfere in an area best left to the states, and while I appreciate a good federalist perspective as much as anyone, it’s not a principled stand against the mandate itself. That’s where we as a party have made our arguments. jetty is right about one thing, by the way. I find it terrifying that I might have to vote for a man to lead my country based on my probabilistic assumption that he’s unprincipled enough to behave in the way I want him to…as long as I offer him the right incentives.

  17. This is why more of the NotRomney’s need to get out of the race so that we can all consolidate behind one candidate and stop this before it is too late.

  18. Romney has no effective defense if Obama calls him out in a debate on ObamaCare/RomneyCare. Media will aid and abet Obama when the president goes on offense on this issue.

    At the heart of the issue will be the mandate. It won’t be about healthcare; it will be about the idea of the state or the central powers imposing a mandate.

    Obama will have an ironclad offense on this issue. We should not delude ourselves or attempt to shroud the matter in a 10th amendment argument regardless of Massachusetts’ right to pass the legislation.

    This is a political issue and it will be debated and narrated in a direct effort to discredit Romney.

    I think all of us should be asking ourselves a question. What defines a true conservative?

  19. I think the people trying to compare Obamacare and Romneycare are missing an important difference: State governments are permitted to take actions that the constitution prohibits to the federal government.

    1. Andrew, when I link to a piece [in a post that] I’ve written I expect people to click through to the link[ed material] and read [that], as well. Thanks in advance.

  20. One final note (and granted, it may be wishful thinking). Romney clearly is NOT an ideologue. For people committed to conservative principles, this is beyond maddening. They feel set up for betrayal. But please remember that Romney DOES seem think like a businessman. Business people don’t have the same instincts as politicians. Romney’s always happy to change his mind based on the new set of information he got yesterday — for better or worse.

    People like that may not be the most reliable and consistent in matters of public policy, but they do tend to make a decision based on the information in front of them. In the case of ObamaCare, ideology was the only reason it passed. Were Romney a Democrat (and I admit this is a stretch), he might very well have voted against based on the merits (or lack thereof). Maybe. Dunno. But having lived a long career in the corporate world, I can tell you that a lot of very successful people with very long careers think and act a lot like Romney. They orient toward results far more than toward principles.

    The one good thing about this is that he seems to get that the country is broke, and he seems genuinely offended by that. That could go a long way with the right Congress.

  21. I’ve come to one conclusion. Many supporters of Gov. Romney have not studied his record as governor or his various statements during the 1994 Senate run against Teddy or useful documents such as the white paper at the Club for Growth (each candidate is evaluated there).

    Furthermore, on tax policy he received middling grades on his tax policy–a C- which was next to the bottom. Only Santorum got a lower grade. The scores were done by the Tax Foundation, an org that’s been around for more than 70 years.

    My concern looking ahead is that we must have a candidate we can defend and marshall turnout for. If we go into this nomination with rose colored glasses, we will lose.

    For the record, Teddy made much of Romney’s business background in 1994 when Romney vied for Teddy’s Senate seat. Coincidentally Romney opposed the Contract with America his fellow Republicans had crafted and he said so publicly.

  22. Moe: Romney can stand behind Romneycare until the cows come home, but Romneycare is a state program designed for one state and has absolutely nothing to do with Obamacare and something that is being forced on all the states. It isn’t just apples and oranges, it is apples and penguins. Why don’t you just admit you are an Obama supporter and be done with it. To continue to perpetrate a lie is beyond contempt. To be so obtuse as to not understand the difference between what the bluest of blue states wanted to do and Romney’s only choice was to try to make it as painless as possible and a socialist program passed against the will of the people by a narcissistic totalitarian and his minions makes me hope you stay home as being too stupid to vote anyway.

    Romney: As soon as I’m sworn in and in my first act after walking into the Oval Office will be to sign an executive order giving waivers to all 50 states on Obamacare, my 2nd act will be to instruct Republicans in Congress to get busy and repeal the Obama abomination.

  23. Moe,

    I’ve been saying for months if Romney is the nominee Obamacare is a lost cause for us. However, I am not as sure as everyone else the former governor will be at the top of the ticket in November. Too many times the conventional wisdom has failed.

  24. Ronni, I tend to agree, i think this will be a “Last Man Standing” type of Primary. And Demosthenes, and Sara, just cause where we sit in the bleachers we don’t see enough room between Romney and O’Bama to vote for, don’t assume we’re on the other side. This is going to be a fun Summer, what with Gas Prices expected to go to $4 per Gallon, and G8/NATO Summit in Chicago and all. The Democrats have never really understood that there is fundamental difference between the coastal Dems and the people who have to make things work. By September O’Bama going to be hurting, anyone is going to be able to Beat Him!

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