I’ve argued all along that one reason (of many) that Mitt Romney can’t beat Obama should he be the nominee is that he’ll be unable to draw a contrast between ObamaCare and RomneyCare since, for all intents and purposes, they’re the same plan. Indeed MIT’s Jonathan Gruber, who helped Mitt design RomneyCare before helping Obama design ObamaCare, said ObamaCare is RomneyCare with three zeros. In last night’s debate Rick Santorum pointed this out and, as usual, the Mittster fell back on his standard, yet ludicrous, states’ rights” defense of his government run health care plan: Federal politicians legally requiring private citizens to purchase a product they may not want is bad, but state politicians legally requiring private citizens to purchase a product they may not want is a great conservative idea. Or something. Just because the state allows one to do something stupid doesn’t mean one should.
In any event, my premise has been that Mitt will have zero credibility in going after Obama on this issue and thus, the GOP will leave one of the President’s biggest vulnerabilities on the table. Beating an incumbent President is difficult enough, but will be virtually impossible if we go into battle with one of our biggest weapons, ObamaCare, neutralized as an issue because we were insane enough to nominate the guy who designed the prototype for the system. Heading into an uphill electoral fight with one hand tied behind our back is hardly a recipe for success in November. I stand by my contention but I may have been a bit too narrow in my focus. Allahpundit at Hot Air made an excellent point today. One I hadn’t thought of. He notes that it won’t only be ObamaCare per se that will be off the table, but the entire concept of a government coerced individual mandate. How can any Republican argue against this indefensible affront to our individual freedom if our standard bearer is on record promoting it?
Via the lefties at Think Progress, a video salute to Mitt’s cavalier assurance at last night’s debate that there’s nothing to get angry about when it comes to health-care mandates. Get ready for a long, long line of liberal attack ads in this vein once it’s clear that he’s the nominee: Even if they end up losing the election, the PR value to the left of having the Republican standard-bearer mimicking O’s rhetoric on ObamaCare is incalculable for the repeal battle ahead. That was always one of the greatest pitfalls in choosing Mitt — at a minimum, the right will have to temper its criticism of mandates during the general election — but darned if we’re not poised to go ahead and choose him anyway.
Indeed. Mitt’s not going to win, of course, but liberals will have a treasure trove of material from a GOP standard bearer on the record supporting the concept that the government can require its citizens to purchase something they may or may not want. Will Mitt’s silly distinction between a federal and state mandate even matter? I think not. The precedent of an individual mandate, endorsed by both parties, will have been set in concrete. Further, as Allah notes, this will be the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent and, once established, the government’s ability to force private citizens to buy things won’t be limited to health care:
Has Romney addressed at length the core ideological problem that most conservatives have with health-insurance mandates, namely, their potential to expand into non-insurance realms? George Will likes to use the hypothetical of Congress forcing overweight people to enroll in Weight Watchers; Romney would oppose that on federalism grounds, but what if the Massachusetts legislature did the same thing as a cost-effective way to reduce the expense of treating obesity-related illnesses later? Would that be constitutional? (The Commerce Clause wouldn’t apply but privacy/bodily autonomy rights might.) Should we shrug it off on grounds that residents who object can vote with their feet and move to Vermont or New Hampshire? What’s the limiting principle on your freedom to decide how to spend your money on your own health? Exit quotation from NPR, quoting a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health: “Romney has given in this entire presidential campaign last evening what I believe is the most effective and persuasive rationale and defense of the individual mandate.” Terrific.
Once we accept the premise that government can force us, by law, to purchase a health insurance policy, what’s to stop the government, state or federal, from requiring we buy other things? Perhaps Obama will force us to buy a windmill from Jeffrey Immelt’s General Electric or a Chevy Volt from GM under the guise of “protecting the planet”. How do we put the genie back into the bottle if both Democrats and Republicans took it out? Thanks Mitt…and a special thanks to the GOP Establishment for giving us this gem.
Finally, I have two videos for you. The first is the one to which Allah referred in which both Mitt and Obama’s defense of the individual mandate is juxtaposed. Get used to seeing a lot of this because liberals can always refer to Mitt’s defense of the government mandate concept when pressed on the matter: C’mon, what’s the problem? A government-decreed mandate is “not worth getting angry about”. Your Establishment-anointed 2012 presidential nominee thought it was a smashing idea. The second video is of Rick Santorum pointing out the obvious: There’s no qualitative difference between Romneycare and ObamaCare, and Mitt will have no standing to go after Obama on this issue. Much of the Romney material in the first video comes from the second, as Mandate Mitt did a fantastic job of making the Democrat case for an individual mandate in his response to Santorum in last night’s Republican debate.
Exit question: If we can’t count on the Republican Party to defend us from this shocking encroachment on our individual freedom, who can we count on?