So, I have already reviewed the policy aspect of Mitt Romney’s health care plan. Basically, I think it is reasonable, but he is playing "hide the ball" with the money. It has to come from somewhere and he is leaving the "where" up to the states. Fine.

Now the next question is the politics. GraniteGrok has noted that Romney has to back away from what he did in MA with Ted Kennedy. The optics — with the mandatory YouTube example — are bad several different ways. First, Romney spent a lot of time attacking "McCain-Kennedy" to get the link with Kennedy out there. Now Romney has a link too. Second, while everyone wants the gridlock to end, for conservatives that means that they win. Compromising with Ted Kennedy — and indeed getting praised by Kennedy — doesn’t help.

So how does he do that? Basically, he abandons the mandate. Now this is clever politics. Conservatives hate the mandate. And the argument that the policy is smoke-and-mirrors without a revenue stream will be hard to explain. After all, there wasn’t a revenue stream in Massachusetts, why would you need one everywhere else? (note that this is the same fraud that minimum wage politics is based on. A minimum wage isn’t a tax because it is a mandate on private activity.) Furthermore, because there are so few specifics, it will be hard to score this and say, "Romney’s health care plan will cost XXXXX." It will make it hard for Republicans to attack him. So, as primary election politics goes, it is phony but clever. (What would you have expected from Mitt?)

This serves him well in a general too. As has noted:

Kenneth E. Thorpe, a professor of health policy at Emory University, has analyzed the costs of the Edwards and Obama plans. In reading those and the Massachusetts plans, the similarities are clear, and Thorpe says the Obama and Romney plans are “virtually identical.” Both call for an insurance exchange (an entity that would offer various private insurance plans to the public), and they offer financial assistance to low-income people.

So if a Democrat attacks Romney, correctly, for playing fast-and-loose with numbers, Romney will have a defense. "See there’s Hillary Clinton telling you what you should be doing with your own money." And he can say that his plan was supported by Ted Kennedy (again, Kennedy will object that rich people should pay!!!, again helping Romney) and virtually identical with Barack Obama’s. How can that not be good?

In other words, if Romney can get this policy, with its hidden tax increase on someone, through the primary, it will serve him very well in the general. And the way that he has framed this makes it very hard to see the tax increase.



sampo · August 24, 2007 at 2:49 PM

I tried to post this in your previous post, but it wont show up. sorry in advance if it later appears…

“..penalized by prison time in some cases”

Has this actually happened? how many? link?

“the federal government would offer incentives to states to take their own necessary steps to bring down the cost of health insurance.”

This is Romney’s fulcrum -his be-all-things-to-all-people. For the primary election he takes a dramatic shift to the right. For the general, he plans to take takes an enormous shift to the left.
As of May 07, 372,000 in Mass. didn’t have coverage and half of the 140,000 eligible for subsidized insurance hadn’t signed up for it. The state required mandates had to be lowered because a whopping 200,000 didn’t meet the required mandates.

Wouldn’t the lowered mandates require more gov’t subsidies?

Mass paints the most rosey picture for healthcare since it’s the third most wealthy state in the nation.

How to cover residents of poorer states who’s residents make 60% of the average Mass resident?

Time to dust off the phrase “fuzzy math”.

Since Romney has recently morphed into a Tancrado-wannabe on immigration, my question to him would be this:

Since “universal health care” is necessary for your plan to be financially solvent, does that apply to the 12 million illegal immigrants?

What say you Mitt? Will illegals be left to die because they aren’t privileged to your healthcare? Or will my tax dollars fund an illegal who’s crooked teeth “require” braces?

I suppose the answer to that question depends on the state from which I ask it. A-la immigration and South Carolina and Florida.

sampo · August 24, 2007 at 5:22 PM

I like the part where Mitt says Kennedy wants a government takeover of healthcare.

It’s fitting Romney is from a big baseball state. Like a utility player, he can play all 9 positions on one issue. One could argue he could bat DH, putting him up to 10 positions.

who is willard milton romney? · August 24, 2007 at 2:34 PM

Pipes: RomneyCare a spiraling fiscal disaster; does not deliver universal coverage or meaningful structure of cost controls…

It’s one thing for politicians to promise that their mandates [Romney’s RomneyCare] will decrease costs, it’s quite another when it comes to implementing the plan, writes the estimable Sally Pipes in a article titled Lessons … » 2007 » August » 24 · August 24, 2007 at 2:50 PM

[…] Romney’s healthcare plan: The politics […]

Patrick Ruffini :: links for 2007-08-28 · August 28, 2007 at 8:26 AM

[…] » Romney’s healthcare plan: The politics (tags: romney policy 2008) […]

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