Mitt Romney said Sunday that Barack Obama lied about whether Americans could keep their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act — a “fundamental dishonesty” that is “rotting” the president’s second term.
“When he told the American people that you could keep your health insurance if you wanted to keep that plan, period — he said that time and again — he wasn’t telling the truth,” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That fundamental dishonesty has really put in peril the foundation of his second term.”
Mr. Romney has maintained a relatively low public profile since losing to Mr. Obama last November, but he’s jumped back into the spotlight since Mr. Obama flew to Boston on Wednesday to compare the glitchy rollout of Obamacare to Massachusetts’ own “Romneycare.”
In a Facebook post last week, the Republican said the president hadn’t learned the important lessons from the Massachusetts reforms Mr. Romney signed into law seven years ago.
On Sunday, he went further, telling host David Gregory that if Mr. Obama had been honest about how many people would lose their health care under Obamacare, the law would not have passed.
“There’s no question in my mind but had the president been truthful and told the American people that millions would lose their insurance and millions more would see their premiums skyrocket — had he told them that at the time it was going through Washington, there would have been such a huge cry against it, it would not have passed,” he said.
“Whether you like the model of Obamacare or not, the fact that the president sold it on a basis that was not true has undermined the foundation of his second term. I think it’s rotting it away,” Mr. Romney said. “We’ve got to have a president that can lead, and right now he’s not able to do so.”
Mr. Romney said that the president should have known that millions would lose insurance based on the Romneycare model in Massachusetts.
But current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat and longtime Obama ally, appearing on the same program, defended Obamacare.
“The Affordable Care Act is not a website. I think Gov. Romney knows that and the American people know that,” he said. “The website is imperfect. That will get fixed. I’m confident of that … It took us two years to get our website right in Massachusetts.”
Mr. Romney also offered some cautionary advice to Republicans who consider his brand of conservatism too middle-of-the-road.
“Electability and conservatism I think go together,” he said. “I had a very conservative platform … I just happen to think that you want to combine conservatism with the ability to get elected. You want someone who can garner the support of people across the country to say, ‘This is a person I trust.’”
He said he didn’t support the effort to shut down the government in an attempt to defund Obamacare, calling it ineffective. The best way to get rid of Obamacare, he said, is to put more Republicans in office.
“The right way to replace Obamacare is to elect Republicans to the Senate and the House and ultimately the White House and repair Obamacare, replace it and put in place something that’s going to do a better job for the American people and let them keep the insurance they were promised they could keep in the first place,” he said.