Compare and contrast: Obama and Romney on health care

posted at 6:50 pm on January 27, 2012 by Allahpundit

Via the lefties at Think Progress, a video salute to Mitt’s cavalier assurance at last night’s debate that there’s nothing to get angry about when it comes to health-care mandates. Get ready for a long, long line of liberal attack ads in this vein once it’s clear that he’s the nominee: Even if they end up losing the election, the PR value to the left of having the Republican standard-bearer mimicking O’s rhetoric on ObamaCare is incalculable for the repeal battle ahead. That was always one of the greatest pitfalls in choosing Mitt — at a minimum, the right will have to temper its criticism of mandates during the general election — but darned if we’re not poised to go ahead and choose him anyway. And as Peter Suderman at Reason notes, this clip doesn’t even exhaust the similarities between RomneyCare and its much larger younger brother:

During last night’s debate, Romney also defended his plan from charges that it resembled ObamaCare by arguing that in Massachusetts, “there’s no government plan.” He’s used this line before, but it’s never helped distinguish Romney’s health overhaul from Obama’s: There’s no “government plan” in ObamaCare either, or at least no more of one than there is in RomneyCare. Both ObamaCare and RomneyCare rely on a regulated market and an expansion of Medicaid. Nor is Romney the only one to point this out in order to defend the structure both plans share: In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Obama touted the fact that “our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”

In the end, Romney only ended up reinforcing the similarities between his plan and President Obama’s. It’s hard to make a convincing case that the RomneyCare is somehow dramatically different from ObamaCare while relying on virtually the same arguments employed by ObamaCare’s most prominent defender.

No worries: The line about there being “no government plan” will be included in the inevitable MoveOn version of this clip, replete with copious citations to the new study out this week confirming that RomneyCare was indeed the “template” for ObamaCare. And yet, and yet, if you ask the average Republican about this, the answer you get might not be what you expect:

Republican opposition to the Democrats’ 2010 health care overhaul law is intense, with 73% of Republicans having an unfavorable view of it. By contrast, 62% of Democrats view it favorably.

The survey also found that most Republican voters don’t agree with the attack on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that the health care law he signed as governor of Massachusetts is similar to the federal law. Some 30% said they felt Mr. Romney’s views on health care were akin to President Barack Obama’s, but almost half said the former governor’s views are different, and 22% didn’t answer.

So Romney’s big federalism talking point was enough to defuse this issue for fully half of the Republican electorate, notwithstanding his comfort with mandates in the abstract. I wonder if that’s a testament to the effectiveness of his campaign’s messaging or the catastrophic failure by his opponents to put this issue front and center. Only Santorum has scored real points on it, after all, and only in the debates this week.

Question: Has Romney addressed at length the core ideological problem that most conservatives have with health-insurance mandates, namely, their potential to expand into non-insurance realms? George Will likes to use the hypothetical of Congress forcing overweight people to enroll in Weight Watchers; Romney would oppose that on federalism grounds, but what if the Massachusetts legislature did the same thing as a cost-effective way to reduce the expense of treating obesity-related illnesses later? Would that be constitutional? (The Commerce Clause wouldn’t apply but privacy/bodily autonomy rights might.) Should we shrug it off on grounds that residents who object can vote with their feet and move to Vermont or New Hampshire? What’s the limiting principle on your freedom to decide how to spend your money on your own health? Exit quotation from NPR, quoting a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health: “Romney has given in this entire presidential campaign last evening what I believe is the most effective and persuasive rationale and defense of the individual mandate.” Terrific.

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I think it is safe to say that Romneycare and Obamacare have DNA which shows Obamacare is the offspring of Romneycare, almost like the results of an incestuous relationship.

DVPTexFla on January 27, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Romney is right. Why should I pay for your health care? The IM is the conservative approach. Requiring that taxpayers pay for the free riders is the socialist approach.

Basilsbest on January 27, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Why aren’t you voting for Obama if you believe this?

GOvernment mandates that people purchase a certain commodity are the conservative approach? Are you serious? Geez.

Dr. Tesla on January 27, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Willard is toast in November.

kingsmill on January 27, 2012 at 11:06 PM

Are we Conservatives that support Mitt Romney idiots or what?

Quetzal on January 27, 2012 at 11:09 PM

The Mittwits are not familiar with the Romney M.O.

Willard is ruthless in clearing opposition from his right. He’ll use any slander or halftruth to hobble a conservative threat. The media and RINO elites are happy to cooperate in this. In the general he will trim his sails to suit the acceptable RINO narrative that the elites have prepared for him. He will happily accomadate himself to defeat in November.

wraithby on January 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM

We’re all socialist now…thank you republican party.

oldmans on January 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM

So Romney will called by the Obama administration to submit a brief on behalf of the mandate to the supreme court.

oldmans on January 27, 2012 at 11:52 PM

Anyone but Robamany.

If either of them are elected, then it’s game over. :/

Theophile on January 27, 2012 at 11:58 PM

Face it. The Republicans just want to lose. And they are in the process of doing so, falling for the farce known as “electability.”

Myron Falwell on January 27, 2012 at 10:04 PM

I don’t think they want to lose, but you are spot-on in regards to the electability measure.
If Ronald Reagan were running today, he would be slammed by the establishment as being to “extreme” and drummed out of the race. Thus we are being told that Romney is the guy who is the most electable and thus we need to rally around him because at the end of the day it’s about getting Obama out of office…..forget principles and all that.

SleightOfHand on January 28, 2012 at 12:35 AM

Both the Mormon’s and the Muslim’s argument for the mandate is this: ‘If you don’t buy health insurance, then you have to help pay for the aggregate cost of unpaid medical bills so that everyone else doesn’t get penalized because of you.’

WhatSlushfund on January 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM

This is the most f***ked up, idiotic, bigoted statement I’ve ever seen.

I hate to break it to you, but many (non-mormon and non-muslims) conservatives endorsed the individual mandate too.

By the way, I see a lof people on here who could be educated on why ObamaCare isn’t constitutional and RomneyCare is.

Conservative Samizdat on January 28, 2012 at 1:12 AM

It’s hard to make a convincing case that the RomneyCare is somehow dramatically different from ObamaCare

EMTALA is the father of Romneycare and the grandfather of Obamacare.

Thanks Reagan.

csdeven on January 28, 2012 at 1:13 AM

Conservative Samizdat on January 28, 2012 at 1:12 AM

Those who claim to be real conservatives end up using totalitarian arguments to prove they are real conservatives. The tenth is the final test for this argument as a conservative. Those who deny the citizens of MA the right to have Romneycare, are by extrapolation, insisting they know better than the citizens of MA.

The world is upside down.

csdeven on January 28, 2012 at 1:18 AM


How foolish you are. Read and weep!

Romney is an out and out liar, and Hot Air stoops to new lows in shilling for this dishonest, disgusting man.

Sparky5253 on January 28, 2012 at 1:09 PM

If Ronald Reagan were running today, he would be slammed by the establishment as being to “extreme” and drummed out of the race………..

SleightOfHand on January 28, 2012 at 12:35 AM

Reagan was sammed by the Establishment in 1980. They wanted “Poppy” Bush. They couldn’t hold him back after the ’76 convention fight with Ford. I remember there was some hair-brained talk (al beit short-lived) about a “co-Presidency” between Reagan & Ford. Carter was so bad and Reagan so strong the people eventually overrode the Establishment and Reagan walloped Carter.

The scary fact now is, we don’t have a Reagan. Although Newt’s a fighter, he”s got many flaws. Santorum just doesn’t seem to be catching fire, and I see Romney as a weak nominee.

To paraphrase Levin, I’ll vote for a tomato can over Obama, but I think Romney’s going to have the toughest time beating our “beloved President”. And I damned sure don’t trust him to run a conservative administration, much less overturn MessiahCare if he makes it that far.

rotorjoe on January 28, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Sorry. “sammed” = slammed

rotorjoe on January 28, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Romney is an out and out liar, and Hot Air stoops to new lows in shilling for this dishonest, disgusting man.

Sparky5253 on January 28, 2012 at 1:09 PM

What Pam Bondi means is that every state is free to craft their own health care plan for their citizens in any way the state wishes.

Conservative Samizdat on January 29, 2012 at 1:04 PM