You know where I stand on this but here’s the counterargument from Bill Pascoe, imagining the ideal Mitt response.
What we tried in Massachusetts sure does look an awful lot like what President Obama is trying to do now. He’s got an individual mandate, and tax penalties for those who fail to purchase insurance on their own, and subsidies for those who can’t afford to purchase insurance, and he’s even got a government health “exchange.”
And guess what, Chris? I’m willing to bet that it won’t work any better at the federal level than it has at the state level. The fact of the matter is, we tried it, and it doesn’t work — Massachusetts has the highest insurance premiums in the nation, and our state’s per-capita spending is 27 percent higher than the national average.
Guess what else we found? When you expand the availability of insurance, you increase the demand for medical services. But we didn’t do anything to expand the number of doctors in Massachusetts. So now our doctors are seriously overworked. In fact, more than half our internists are refusing to take new patients — that’s right, the ones who just got insurance for the first time because of the changes we made. Having insurance is great, Chris, but only if you actually get to see a doctor when you need to. Otherwise, what’s the point?
We conservatives have always said the states are the laboratories of democracy. Well, we tried ObamaCare in Massachusetts, and it didn’t work.
I was wrong. I am sorry. But I learned my lesson. And the good news is, America can learn from our mistakes. America can learn from the Massachusetts experience.
The line about “laboratories of democracy” is a nice touch. If Romney ever does go this route, I guarantee that it’ll show up in his rhetoric. But look: There’s a reason you rarely hear candidates admit massive policy mistakes. What’s more appealing to you, a would-be president who stands by his decisions and argues their merits, even if you think he’s wrong on balance? Or a would-be president who reverses course at a moment of intense political pressure and confesses that, yes indeed, his master plan was wildly, wildly wrong? Which gives you greater confidence in his policy acumen and personal fortitude? There are arguments for both, but I’ll bet I know which way most voters lean — especially vis-a-vis a guy who’s famously reversed course before at moments that seem suspiciously opportunistic.
Beyond that, though, the idea that Romney’s already finished more than a year before the primaries start to crank up is simply goofy. Passions are running high now over O-Care so it’s gratifying to think that the health-care apostate within our ranks will suffer for it, but am I the only who remembers those stories breaking in 2007 about how McCain once wanted to leave the GOP? Remember the hotter-than-hot amnesty debate on the Senate floor that summer, where Maverick was his good ol’ amnesty shill self? How about those incredible financial problems his campaign had early on, which made me and pretty much everyone else think he was left for dead? And then, a year later, he was the nominee. A lot can, and will, happen to ease the sting of RomneyCare, which isn’t to say that Mitt will or should be the nominee, merely that this won’t be the instant disqualifier that it now seems. Like I said the other day, if conservatives were willing to suck it up and nominate the, ahem, “electable” candidate two years ago, think how much more willing they’ll be two years from now when they’re chomping at the bit to get The One out of the Oval Office. Things change. Right, Politico?