The View on RomneyCare
02-02-2011
The more I think about Mitt Romney and health care (yes, I actually do), and the more I talk to Republican political elites about the issue, the more convinced I am that the Massachusetts program mandating coverage could be a political Waterloo for him during the presidential primaries. From an issues perspective, it’s the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room at Romney headquarters. The fact that the policy has its own informal moniker, RomneyCare, just like ObamaCare, should be a red flag for his campaign. The phrase will no doubt be used frequently by conservative opponents as handy pejorative shorthand for Romney-sanctioned, big government intrusion.
 
Romney’s recent defense of the policy on The View doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence that he’ll be able to dismiss critics during the primaries. On the show, he makes a cursory states’ rights argument that what works for Massachusetts is not necessarily the appropriate solution for other states. But the problem for Romney is not the state v. federal angle. For his conservative opponents, the concern is that Romney agreed to the substantive ideas in the Massachusetts legislation (including mandatory coverage and penalties for noncompliance) in the first place, and the high cost of the program has turned into an additional headache for the former governor. I expect that Romney’s opponents in the presidential race will disparage RomneyCare with the same vigor they currently use against President Obama, and the conservative Republican primary electorate will likely be receptive to the criticism.


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