The EFM Feature
Victory, from Flickr user aepoc, used under a Creative Commons license

Michael Warren of The Weekly Standard:

If Monday night’s GOP presidential debate is any indication, Romneycare may not be the liability it once was for Mitt Romney. The former Bay State governor took fewer punches on the issue than before and seemed to have absorbed most of the blows.


So where was the criticism of Romney’s health care policy this time around? Since Romney entered the presidential race earlier this year, his positions on Romneycare and Obamacare have been pretty well flushed out. Sure, there are Republicans who won’t vote for Romney because of Romneycare—but they’ve probably already made up their minds. Even this early in the process, spending debate time criticizing Romneycare may have diminishing marginal returns.

Additionally, Romney’s defense, regardless of its merits, is more fluid than it was. The candidate, often criticized for his rigidity, has become more comfortable in discussing what is arguably his biggest weakness in the Republican primary. “The people of Massachusetts favor our plan by three to one,” Romney said in Monday’s debate. “And states can make their own choices. I’m happy to stand up for what we did.”

Romney has become more skillful, too, at shifting the focus of the health care debate away from the past and toward his policy proposals for the future. Answering a question about bringing down the cost of health care—as opposed to health insurance—Romney explained how the costs of care are hidden from consumers. “The person who receives care in America generally doesn’t care how much it costs, because once they’ve paid their deductible, it’s free,” he said. “And the provider, the more they do, the more they get paid. We have something that’s not working like a market, it’s working like a government utility.”

Romney’s decision early on not to disavow Romneycare certainly cost him credibility with an element of the Republican base, many of whom were already wary of the former governor after his failed effort to court conservatives in 2008. But recent attacks on Romney’s health care positions just don’t seem to be sticking like his opponents had hoped. And he seems to have helped himself entirely by sticking up for repealing Obamacare every step of the way.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Comments and Discussion

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5 Responses to Health Care Attacks Not Sticking?

  1. Frozone says:

    Honestly. If Romney were a flip flopper, wouldn’t he have pivoted on this issue by now? Sometimes the press and his opponents want to have it both ways.

    Personally, I like the fact that he stands by this. Shows some mettle.

    And just because the “individual mandate” label has been recently invented to put off conservatives, at the time of it’s passing, this was properly framed as a personal responsibility issue. The problem in MA was unique and fixable without a budget increase (the Dems overrode his vetos to include provisions that drove up costs, but still within reason) and nothing like the one size fits all abomination that is Obamacare.

  2. Diane says:

    I agree with Frozone. When Mitt Romney was elected governor in Massachusetts he inherited a state that was in terrible condition. It was felt not only economically but medically as well. Let me explain, I lived in Massachusetts for many years…nearly each year the company I worked for changed health insurance carriers. The reason they had to change often was because insurance companies were leaving Massachusetts – it was too expensive for them to compete. By the time I left in 2004, there were not that many insurance companies to choose from. In addition to this the cost of practicing medicine was sky-rocketing. My own OB=GYN decided to stop delivering babies and just concentrate on women’s practice because she couldn’t find a malpractice insurance company that had an affordable enough policy. This also led to many doctors leaving the state in droves. Boston prides itself in being one of the forerunners of the medical industry….they have some of the best hospitals in the nation and here it was about to collapse underneath them….something had to be done and quickly. Hence, the health insurance plan that they have today. Is it perfect, no. Is it exactly what Mitt Romney wanted, no. Because of the Democratic majority, they tweaked at Governor Romney’s proposal until they liked it. If anyone should be pointing fingers it should be the Democrats who changed the plan to what it is today. Could the plan be improved, sure. Will the plan work in other states? Probably not. But what it did prove is that government should be willing to open up to the competitive market. Remember when you paid 25 cents for a 1 minute long distance phone call? Thank goodness we don’t have to to that anymore. Open up competitive markets so that all health insurance companies can compete in all states and put a cap on malpractice lawsuits….and nearly all of your problems regarding healthcare will be gone.

  3. Keith Price says:

    Here’s what Romney should do:

    Bring out a copy of his 70 page Healthcare plan. Then bring out a copy of the 2700 pages (or mockup) of Obamacare. Just DUMP it all over the table or floor!

    Then, he hold up his plan and says, “here’s how these two plans are different.” When he mentions HIS plan, he hold up his small 70 pages. When he refers to Obama’s, he points to the MESS on the floor.

    THAT would create an image that should stick with the general public.

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