First Debate

In the general election, Romney can effectively argue that federalism allows Massachusetts to experiment with a health care mandate as a decentralized “laboratory of democracy.”  It is the 10th Amendment purview of the states to enact insurance mandates if they desire, but such actions should be limited at the federal level.  While Romney can appeal to voters on grounds of states’ rights, the functional policy question remains and he will likely have to defend his actions as governor at the first presidential debate.

Moderator (I’m thinking Jim Lehrer):  “Even if you believe mandates should be limited to state governments, why is it that you pursued and signed into law an insurance mandate in Massachusetts?  Why is a mandate good for Massachusetts?  Why does a mandate make insurance markets function more effectively  and make sense for Massachusetts citizens?  If this policy is good for the people of Massachusetts, how can you criticize  President Obama when he pursues similar policy approaches?

Romney: “Ummmmmm… Jim, can I use one of my lifelines?”

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4 thoughts on “First Debate

  1. Why hello Dr. Butz, and welcome back to the blogosphere! I’m looking forward to Romney’s response to this, too. But it will probably be something like,

    “I worked hard to do what was right for the people of Massachusetts at that time. What worked in Massachusetts will not work for the great diversity across America. What America needs is Real Reform, like I worked for as governer of Massachusetts. Obamacare is not the answer. The better course is to empower the states to make the decisions that are best for their citizens.”

    How’s that for a political non-answer?

  2. You should be Romney’s spokeswoman! I would provide him with similar advice. Here will be his challenge… The localized diversity argument makes sense for cultural norms and policy demands that are unique geographically. Louisiana has Mardi Gras while Oregon and Maine might embrace other peculiarities. The universal, uniform, and intertwined nature of health care (as an industry and profession) makes that uniqueness reasoning more difficult! Romney can fall back on a “laboratories of democracy” argument but Obama will have a strong counterargument about universal needs and protections for patients.

  3. The truthful answer for Romney should be to stick with the State’s rights argument. We rarely, if ever get completely honest responses from any politician…..they have to say what people want to hear, they need lots of votes and even more money to establish a legitimate campaign. Couple that with the fact that many Americans are unwilling to invest the time to truly understand the issues that face us. He will continue to softsell the Mass. plan and Pres. Obama will downplay the issue as the law is unpopular with a lot of Americans and a rallying point for his opposition….this will energize the conservative base. Whether that will result in a Romney victory……well that is why we have elections.

    Now that the Supreme Ct has made their ruling, the legislation will continue to unfold over the next several years. All of the many implications will unfold as these are very large “wheels” get set into motion.

    Like Nancy Pelosi’s famous quote states, “We have to pass this bill to know everything that is in the bill.”

    ps. I am a huge fan of Congressmen actually reading the bills they vote on!

  4. Congress read bills before passing them… NEVER!!! I actually think that is a bit of a red herring as the bill was probably well read by more than a few congresspeople (especially committee members that constructed the bill). The framework was understood by all (although the devil is in the details admittedly).

    It is a rallying point for Obama’s opposition, and the Supreme Ct ruling now allows the Romney camp to utilize the “tax” theme (that plays well with both conservatives and independents)! But the positive effects for Romney will continually be muted because of his actions in Massachusetts.

    RomneyCare provided the framework for Obamacare! I understand he can play the states’ rights card, but Romney pursued an insurance mandate because it made some sense as a policy option. It is popular in Massachusetts and he can’t run away from it. Romney can never live that down. The policy space between the two is perceived to be relatively small, and that dampens Romney’s mobilization efforts.

    Lastly, while ObamaCare (and especially the mandate) is a rallying point for Romney supporters, many provisions in the bill are wildly popular! Children remaining until age 26, coverage for pre-existing conditions, capping overhead expenses, etc. are all supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, and it will be tough for Romney to run against those more popular aspects!

    Ready for the campaign to get underway!

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