During tonight’s GOP presidential debate, Mitt Romney vowed — for the first time — to advance legislation to repeal Obamacare “on day-2,” pledging to use the reconciliation process (the same process by which Obamacare was ultimately passed) to do so. This is a welcome step forward for Romney, who had previously pledged only to issue an essentially meaningless 50-state Obamacare waiver on day-1 (which he vowed again tonight to do) and to push for repeal “subsequently.” The willingness to use the reconciliation process, which would require only 50 votes in the Senate, represents an apparent change in position on the part of the Romney campaign from just last week.
It would be best, of course, if the Republican candidate were to pledge to make repeal a day-1 issue. And it would be best if he were to emphasize it so often in the campaign that the Democrats would have little interest in filibustering to avoid the repeal of legislation that’s popularly associated with the name of a one-term former president — a former-President whose demise was clearly and undeniably brought about largely because of that signature legislation. To be willing and able to put the repeal of Obamacare front and center, however, Romney will likely first have to stop defending his own health care efforts as a matter of policy, and instead try a different tack.
He showed no indication in tonight’s debate of changing course in that sense. Indeed, he continued to defend his Massachusetts health care legislation as a matter of policy, repeating the inaccurate claim that its requirement that everyone buy government-approved health insurance applied only to 8 percent of the population of his state, whereas Obamacare’s mandate that everyone buy government-approved health insurance applied to 100 percent of the population of the country. In fact, the two pieces of legislation both require that essentially everyone under their jurisdiction buy government-approved health insurance.
Nevertheless, Romney’s pledge to advance repeal legislation in a timely manner, and his willingness to use the reconciliation process, is important. It certainly represents a step forward for the repeal movement.