Romney Can't Escape Health Reform

The New York Times today focuses on the delicate dilemma facing the once and possibly future GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The question is: How can the former governor take credit for the 2006 Massachusetts health insurance overhaul law that he signed while at the same time trashing Obama and Democrats for national health reform, which was largely based on the Mass. experiment?

Reporter Kevin sack writes that the crux of Romney's argument: a federalist assertion that the new law usurps powers that properly reside with the states.

“Whether you like what we did or think it stinks to high heaven,” he said of the Massachusetts plan in a speech here on Thursday, “the point is we solved it at our level.”

He then compared the two plans: “I like the things that are similar, I don’t like the things that are different, and that’s why I vehemently oppose Obamacare.”

Whether Mr. Romney can sell that formulation in a black-or-white political culture may become one of the compelling questions of the 2012 campaign.

He is already under assault from conservative writers and potential Republican rivals like Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. The Democrats, meanwhile, are working to make the topic as uncomfortable as possible for him.

The Democratic National Committee has posted a video compilation of Mr. Romney’s comments praising the Massachusetts health insurance mandate. Twice last week, Mr. Obama pointedly observed that Mr. Romney seemed to be lambasting a federal plan that was derivative of his own Massachusetts model.

“I keep on scratching my head,” Mr. Obama said at a fund-raising reception in Boston. “I say, ‘Boy, this Massachusetts thing, who designed that?’ ”

This program aired on April 10, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.


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