The Blog

As Obamacare Anniversary Approaches, Debate on Romneycare Heats Up

12:02 PM, Mar 18, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The anniversary of Obamacare's passage is later this week, and the debate over health care and mandates (both regarding Obamacare and Romneycare) continues to carry on. Here's Jeff Jacoby, writing about Mitt Romney's health care plan--and the former Massachusetts governor's commitment to it--in the Boston Globe:

[T]he problem has never been that Romney yearns to force a Massachusetts-style insurance mandate on the nation. It’s whether he still thinks such mandates are a good idea . “When it’s all said and done,’’ he told Tim Russert in December 2007, “after all these states that are the laboratories of democracy try their own plans, those who follow the path that we pursued will find it’s the best path, and we’ll end up with a nation that’s taken a mandate approach.’’ Romney has never disavowed that attitude. And for many liberty-minded GOP voters, that’s not a minor issue.

Romneycare grows steadily more onerous - the annual penalty for not buying health insurance in Massachusetts now runs as high as $1,260. Obamacare remains far from popular . Naturally Romney now prefers to emphasize the part of his health care plan that would let states decide these issues for themselves. And to be sure, a president who respected federalism would be an improvement.

But far better would be a president who understood that it is not government’s job at any level to coax or compel everyone to get medical insurance. Better yet would be a president who resisted, instead of encouraging, our overreliance on insurance to pay for routine health care. Romney salutes free-market principles, yet he continues to hail Romneycare as a success. The two positions are incompatible. So long as Romney lays claim to both, the wrangling over what he really believes will never end. 

And here's the boss, writing in this week's issue of the magazine, noting that Romney is "The Man Who Likes Mandates."

Why is there still so much resistance among Republican primary voters to Mitt Romney, the likely but not inevitable GOP nominee? Perhaps the deepest reason is this: At a moment in history when we need a bold commitment to reform, a fundamental willingness to limit the state and revitalize self-government, Romney’s achievements and qualifications seem out of step with the times.

Consider a revealing debate moment. It’s not from this year’s campaign but from 2008, when Obamacare did not yet exist. Here’s an exchange from the debate among Republican candidates at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on January 5 that year...

Thus spake Mitt Romney, able technocrat and clear-eyed manager. The well-informed technocrat looks at the current health care system and sees an inability to form stable insurance pools because of problems of adverse selection and free riders. Those problems can be solved—or at least addressed—by mandating that everyone buy coverage. Thus, Romney volunteers, “I like mandates. The mandates work.”

Whole thing here.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers