Romney Should Not Reverse His Position on the Mandate

This is the essence of my comment to American Spectator regarding a recent editorial piece by two of its editors, regarding the dilemma of trying to align Gov. Romney’s role in the creation of RomneyCare with the Republican Party’s opposition to ObamaCare:


Messrs. Anderson and Kristol assert that Romney needs to own the ObamaCare issue if he is to win.  True enough, but first:  (i) he needs to have a stationary target – a decision by the Supremes on the constitutionality issues – and (ii) he needs to make the case that the major problem with ObamaCare is not its mandate, but its general inferiority to the Paul Ryan plan (especially the premium-support concept) and its failure to eliminate the bans on interstate insurance offerings, to end the discrimination of the federal tax code against owners of individual plans, and to reverse the course of modern tort law.   No point to Romney’s going all-in on opposing  the mandate; the Supremes might validate it and leave him without a case against ObamaCare.  Better to make the case, eventually, that both ObamaCare and RomneyCare are socialized medicine and thus doomed to fail, and that he only went for RomneyCare because Mass. healthcare was already a statist operation when he took office and he (like many conservatives) went for the mandate in order to address the “free-rider” problem (free emergency-room care even for those who could afford it).  In other words, RomneyCare is a misnomer, because the bill he signed was not a conversion of Mass. healthcare from a market-based system to a statist system – that horse had already left the barn.  True, at that time Romney also bought into the idea that government controls could lead to cost-reductions, but it would be hard to fault him if he were to publicly confess his sins on that one and announce that the Mass. experience, coupled with the unfolding ObamaCare nightmare, had thoroughly convinced him that a Ryan-type, premium-support system is the only way to get the costs of healthcare under control.


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