In November, Republicans will face an incumbent whose failed presidency makes Jimmy Carter look worthy of Mount Rushmore. And they will lose unless they focus like a laser on the two intertwined strands of disastrous DNA that define the Obama era: Obamanomics and Obamacare. It is mystifying, then, that the GOP would risk surrendering either of these issues.
So overwhelmingly unpopular is Obamacare that in his third State of the Union address, President Obama barely made a passing reference to it, the namesake signature issue of his presidency. Why? Because opinion polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans want it repealed. Outrage over the law fueled a historic tidal-wave election in 2010 in national and state offices that painted a blue map red, a sea change the likes of which America has not seen since Warren Harding was in the White House.
Romneycare is the blueprint for Obamacare and shares its top-down, government-run fundamentals. At its core is the individual mandate that criminalizes anyone who refuses to purchase government-sanctioned health insurance. When confronted with this inconvenient reality, Mitt Romney had this stunning response: “It’s not worth getting angry about.”
The hell it’s not.
For the first time in the history of our republic, our government has demanded that every American, upon the condition of breathing, be forced to enter a legal contract with government-approved corporations. Not even King George III dared impose such control. In truth, if a government can force you to patronize companies of its choosing, the fundamental relationship between the government and the individual is irrevocably changed. If it is allowed to stand, there will be no part of your life the government cannot control and no crony it cannot enrich - with your money.
Isn’t that worth getting angry about?
Mitt Romney promises to repeal Obamacare while bitterly clinging to weak defenses of Romneycare. But why? Jonathan Gruber, a key architect of Romneycare has said that there is “zero difference” between it and Obamacare. “They’re the same … bill,” declared Mr. Romney’s own adviser.
So now Team Romney, seeking any port in the storm of its own making, proclaims that the difference is this: Romneycare complies with the Massachusetts state constitution, whereas Obamacare violates the U.S. Constitution. Of course, no one has claimed otherwise. The charge is that government-run private health care is a bad idea, whether by a state or feds, even if it’s legal.
Romneycare is not only a betrayal of individual liberty and private property rights, it’s also bad medicine. The former governor went on to claim, “Ninety-two percent of the people in my state had insurance before our plan went in place, and nothing changes for them.” Oh really? That’s the same promise Mr. Obama made about Obamacare, you’ll remember: “If you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.” It’s just as false.
So how exactly is Romneycare working out for those 92 percent, and everyone else for that matter?
Romneycare has increased private health care costs for patients and has created longer wait times to see a doctor. Fewer doctors in Massachusetts are willing to accept Medicare or even see new patients. Medicare and Medicaid costs also have increased, sticking taxpayers nationwide with the bill. Government regulations have further eroded the doctor-patient relationship. More than 18,000 jobs have been lost, and disposable income has suffered. The state has lost more than $25 million in private-sector investments. So much for “nothing changes for them.”
Isn’t that worth getting angry about?
Ann Coulter, the once-conservative firebrand, is all-in for Mitt Romney. Only recently, she said Romneycare “shows the failure of even statewide universal care” but now -abracadabra, presto chango - she quite seriously calls for “three cheers for Romneycare.” You’ve got to admire the new chief cheerleader for the moderate movement. We haven’t seen such dizzying flip-flops since, well, Mr. Romney on immigration, the George W. Bush tax cuts, the Reagan legacy, the Second Amendment, global warming, same-sex marriage, “don’t ask, don’t tell” and abortion. Maybe she’s auditioning for a Cabinet position, or her own show on MSNBC.
Massachusetts’ government-run health care is an assault on conservative values. That Ms. Coulter, an intelligent woman, would willingly sacrifice her reputation to defend it is quite telling. She knows that Romneycare, the blueprint for Obamacare, is the undoing of the Romney campaign - if not in the primaries, just wait for the general election.
Imagine the presidential debate stage. Mr. Obama says to Mitt Romney: “Governor, why is it that you’re so determined to repeal Obamacare? Are you opposed to the individual mandate? The fines imposed? The insurance company regulations? The Medicaid expansion? The increased taxes? What is it exactly? Because we adopted all of those things from you.”
What comes next could end the debate and perhaps the election just as quickly as Ronald Reagan’s “Well, there you go again” to Jimmy Carter. Mr. Obama will turn to Mr. Romney, pause for a moment and then say with a disarming smile: “Mitt, it’s not worth getting angry about.”
Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.