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The Worst Answer of the Night

9:02 AM, Sep 23, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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When Mitt Romney answered a question about Romneycare during last night’s GOP debate, it unfortunately sounded like he was defending Obamacare.

Mitt Romney

Romney was asked about Rick Perry’s assertion that “socialized medicine…has failed in Western Europe and in Massachusetts.” He answered, “Let me tell you this about our system in Massachusetts: 92 percent of our people were insured before we put our plan in place. Nothing’s changed for them.”  

Aside from the exact percentage, the same could be said for Obamacare — except that, in both cases (Obamacare more so), people may well lose their employer-provided insurance, as employers decide to dump them into government-run exchanges at taxpayer expense.

Romney continued: “We had 8 percent of our people that weren't insured. And so what we did is we said let’s find a way to get them insurance — again, market-based private insurance.”

The same could be said for Obamacare — except that, in both cases, the government controls what type of “market-based” insurance people are required to buy (thereby greatly limiting competition and choice); it undermines the profitability of private insurance (thereby driving insurers from the market); and it funnels tremendous sums of taxpayer money into subsidizing this government-approved version of private insurance for as long as it remains profitable enough to exist. Moreover, in both cases, a lot of people don’t get the heavily subsidized private insurance but are merely shuttled onto Medicaid (also at taxpayer expense).

Romney immediately added, “We didn't come up with some new government insurance plan.”

But neither did those who passed Obamacare — as Obamacare doesn’t have a “public option.” (It will eventually, however, if it isn’t repealed.)

Having provided a defense that, almost word-for-word, would have worked about equally well for Obamacare as for Romneycare, Romney then proceeded to say, “Our plan in Massachusetts has some good parts, some bad parts.” But he didn’t say what he thinks the bad parts are.  He then reiterated, “It’s different than Obamacare.” But at least in the ways that he chose to highlight, it’s not much different at all.

No one else called him on any of this. Indeed, for the fifth consecutive debate, Romney appeared to be better prepared, more articulate, more knowledgeable, and more presidential, than any of his chief rivals. Among this field, he may well be the best person to take on President Obama. But he’s got to do better on Obamacare.

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