Romney makes passionate case for violating personal freedom at state level 

When he announced his candidacy, I debunked what I considered to be the top five failed defenses of RomneyCare. In his speech this afternoon, Mitt Romney employed all of them in his desperate attempt to distance himself from ObamaCare despite its stark similarities to the plan he signed as governor of Massachusetts.

Romney tried to differentiate between the national health care law, which he described as a “government takeover” and the Massachusetts approach, which he said was merely about expanding coverage.

But both plans are remarkably similar – they force people to purchase government-approved insurance policies, expand Medicaid, and provide subsidies to individuals to purchase government-designed “private” insurance policies on government-run exchanges. Romney said his plan wasn't “government insurance,” but that's a red herring given that Congress was never able to pass a public option.

The broadest argument Romney employed is the federalism one, that his was a state-based approach, and ObamaCare is a one-sized fits all Washington solution. As I've noted before, this is flawed for several reasons, one being that 20 percent of the cost of the Massachusetts plan is paid by federal taxpayers due to the Medicaid expansion. But beyond that, we judge candidates based on what they actually did when they were in office, and Romney supported all the key principles of ObamaCare in the law he signed.

Most notably, Romney supported the individual mandate, which he again defended today, arguing that it was put in place to combat free riders. But that's precisely the argument the Obama administration is making, not only publicly, but in federal court to combat challenges to its constitutionality. Romney even described the mandate as a matter of “personal responsibility.” In the actual text of ObamaCare, the official name for the mandate is the “individual responsibility requirement.”

While constitutional differences exist between what's done at the federal level and state level, in both cases it means the government is violating personal liberty by compelling the purchase of something. Romney' federalism dodge doesn't get him away from this. And his forceful defense of the mandate, complete with a slide  (7) touting the mandate with his campaign logo and slogan on it, isn't likely to endear him to conservative primary voters.

Even worse, because the plans are so similar in structure, every time Romney defends his Massachusetts law, it is a de facto defense of the national health care law.

If Romney really is interested in repealing and replacing ObamaCare, the best thing he could do to help the cause is to stop running for president.


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Philip Klein

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