JONATHAN CHAIT APRIL 5, 2010
The Daily Caller has a good piece on various efforts by allies of Mitt Romney to explain why Romneycare was really, truly, very different than Obamacare. Really!
“Like any experiment, this was meant for one thing: Massachusetts. It wasn’t meant for Vermont or Texas, and their systems would not work in Massachusetts,” said Ron Kaufman, a D.C. lobbyist and close adviser to Romney.
Kaufman offered yet another line of argument in defense of RomneyCare. He said it was a necessary step in the process of state experimentation needed to show the federal government what works and what doesn’t.
Basically, this argument goes, The Death of Freedom works in some states but not others. We had to try out The Death Of Freedom in Massachusetts so that the federal government could see that it doesn't work, and now the governor who conducted that experiment should be elected president, so that we can instead have Freedom.
I don't know how this is going to get boiled down to a bumper sticker.
The article also quotes a blog post by Romney adviser Cesar Conda, arguing that “Romney’s plan did not raise taxes on individuals or businesses, didn’t cut Medicare, didn’t include ‘public options’ or raise spending by a trillion dollars, and it didn’t impose insurance price controls.” These are genuine differences between Romneycare and Obamacare. But they're differences in which Obama's plan is more conservative.
The "raising taxes" mostly consists of reducing the tax deduction for employer-sponsored health insurance, which is a distortion in the market that conservatives seek to completely eliminate. The public option is gone. And the "price controls" in Obama's plan are programs to limit wasteful Medicare spending. It's true that right-wing opponents latched onto the "price control" issue, but it's hardly a genuine right-wing view -- more of a populist/paranoid notion more naturally at home on the left that Republicans opportunistically seized.
I really would like to see Romney explaining to Republican voters that his plan is different than Obama's because his didn't cut Medicare. It might even work. It would just be hilarious.