At Forbes, Avik Roy writes about a recent exchange he had with a Mitt Romney adviser. Roy characterizes the exchange as follows, “I asked: Why isn’t a repeal bill one of the five bills for Day One of a Romney presidency? The advisor responded that Romney is advocating the [50-state] waiver approach to take into account the possibility that Democrats may still control part of Congress, and/or retain the ability to filibuster repeal in the Senate, during a Romney presidency.”
So, if we take this adviser’s comments at face value, the reason why Romney is pledging to push a 50-state Obamacare waiver on day 1, while he has not pledged to push a repeal bill on day 1, is that pushing for repeal might require having to overcome Democratic opposition (especially in the Senate). From the sound of it, if the Democrats retain the ability to filibuster under a Romney presidency, advocates of full repeal would have to settle for an essentially meaningless waiver. Such a waiver wouldn’t wipe even 1 of the 2,700 pages of Obamacare off the books or prevent any of Obamacare’s core elements — its individual mandate, its extravagant taxpayer-funded exchange subsidies, its colossal Medicaid expansion, its looting from Medicare, its creation of the grisly IPAB — from going into effect.
The adviser goes on to say, according to Roy, “If full repeal can’t get through Congress, ‘Governor Romney would be committed to repealing as much of the law as he can.’” This is hardly what most Republicans have in mind.
The Romney adviser may not have this right, or perhaps the comments were meant to convey something different from what they suggest. Unfortunately, however, Romney’s statements on repeal to date have not contradicted the advisor’s account.
No Republican presidential candidate — Romney or otherwise — should be willing to settle for waivers or partial repeal. On the campaign trail, all of the GOP candidates should be putting forward their ideas for a sensible replacement for Obamacare (to the best of my knowledge, none has), while pledging to fight for and secure passage of full repeal — starting with the easy step of pledging to advance full repeal legislation on day 1.