Mitt Romney outlines his health care priorities in a USA Today opinion piece and I am conflicted. On the one hand, how can a conservative argue with the following?
My plan is to harness the power of markets to drive positive change in health insurance and health care. And we can do so with state flexibility (unlike ObamaCare's top-down federal approach), no new taxes (as opposed to hundreds of billions of dollars of new taxes under ObamaCare), and better consumer choice (as opposed to bureaucratic, government choice under ObamaCare). This change of direction offers our best hope of preserving both innovation and value.
If I am elected president, I will issue on my first day in office an executive order paving the way for waivers from ObamaCare for all 50 states. Subsequently, I will call on Congress to fully repeal ObamaCare.
But what of the protean former governor’s own version of ObamaCare, enacted with his backing five years ago in Massachusetts to disastrous effect? Mitt makes it a feature, smoothly eliding RomneyCare into a laboratory-of-democracy mélange of fifty states free to experiment with disparate public health care policies, even ones as stupid and counter-productive as his own prescription. Giving Romney his due, I suppose even failed experiments have value.
Give states the responsibility, flexibility and resources to care for citizens who are poor, uninsured or chronically ill. This reform speaks to the central advantage of our federalist system — that different states will experiment with and settle on the solutions that suit their residents best. Some states might pass a plan like the one we did in Massachusetts, while others will choose an altogether different route.
Put me down for “altogether different.”
So is Mitt Romney paradoxically a stronger candidate because Romneycare hangs over his head like a Sword of Damocles, an ever-present reminder of his commitment to rip up Obamacare root and branch? Or is Mitt’s federalism argument a convenient dodge that allows President Obama to eviscerate the Republican position merely by pointing out that Romney has never disowned his own very similar approach to providing universal coverage?