Can You Support Romney Without Supporting Romneycare?
To the good people of Ricochet who support Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination, please look at this as an opportunity. There simply has to be a better defense of Romney and/or Romneycare than the one being provided by his supporters Ann Coulter and David Frum. I was alerted to the situation by this Frum tweet:
Now, at this point in his career, I'd be surprised if Frum didn't champion what proponents call "universal private health coverage" and what the rest of us call a gross invasion of personal liberty. But if I know one thing, it's that Ann Coulter would never in a million years do the same, right?
In what is either high performance art or clear evidence that there's been some kind of body-snatching, Coulter defends Romneycare on the oddest grounds ever. She accuses conservatives of equating the Massachusetts plan to the federal plan solely because they have similar nicknames and cover the same general topic area. As Philip Klein writes at The Washington Examiner:
This is a shameful argument, and she must have a very low opinion of conservatives if she thinks this is actually true. In reality, people don’t compare Romneycare and Obamacare because their nicknames share the same basic structure, but because the laws have the same basic structure. Specifically, both laws expand Medicaid, force individuals to purchase government-approved insurance or pay a fine, and provide subsidies for individuals to purchase government-designed "private" insurance policies on government-run exchanges.
She points out that some conservatives supported Romneycare at the time. She doesn't mention the many conservatives who opposed it at the time. Then she argues that Romneycare is constitutional, an argument against what exactly? Are conservatives claiming that it's not? Hardly. As Klein asks, do conservatives oppose massive tax increases because they're unconstitutional? No.
Finally, she argues that all the problems of Romneycare are due to Massachusetts Democrats. There are a few problems with the argument. Namely, Romney signed the law (while seated underneath the smiling gaze of Ted Kennedy) knowing that Democrats had enough votes to override Romney's line-item vetoes. He signed it after he'd announced he wasn't running again. As Klein writes, "Part of being a limited government Republican is realizing that once you put the infrastructure in place, successors can always add to it."
If Coulter has decided that Romney is the best of the Republican options and she can’t stand Newt Gingrich, that’s fine. If she wants to argue that conservatives should trust Romney’s commitment to repealing Obamacare, okay. But she shouldn’t defend big government social welfare policy as conservative and treat conservatives like they're too dumb to understand the difference.
It's hard for people to hold competing thoughts in their head at the same time. This is precisely my worry -- that supporting Romney will lead people where Ann Coulter inexplicably has arrived -- to a full-throated defense of Romneycare.
So I ask the wonderful Romney supporters here -- help out those of us who are terrified. Is this what you have to do if you sign on to support Romney? Allay our fears! Show us a better way.