Why Romney and Gingrich can never be President
Or perhaps I should caveat that by saying “should” never be President, given the current occupant who also “should” never have been President.
Romney gave his major health care speech yesterday in which he sounded like he was running as Obama’s VP. It was totally unconvincing. As Avik Roy says at NRO:
Mitt Romney just gave a more articulate defense of Obamacare than President Obama ever has. He continues to believe that the individual mandate is a good idea, despite the fact that the “free-rider” problem is a myth. His effort to make a distinction between Romneycare and Obamacare was not persuasive: If anything, he convincingly made the opposite case, that Romneycare and Obamacare are based on the same fundamental concept.
For him to have any credibility with the right and GOP voters, he had a simple mission: tell them why he signed RomneyCare into law in MA, why it was a mistake and why he was going to fight to repeal ObamaCare.
He did none of those things and thus became, at least in my eyes, an unviable candidate. He obviously has absolutely no problem with the level of government interference in the health care market and certainly isn’t going to be a champion of backing government out of it if elected. In fact, of all sources, the New York Times nails the problem (albeit coming at it from a different direction than me):
Tearing it down [RomneyCare] might help him politically, he said, but “it wouldn’t be honest.” He said he did what he “thought would be right for the people of my state.” A mandate to buy insurance, he said, makes sense to prevent people from becoming free riders, getting emergency care at enormous cost to everyone else.
Where he went off the rails, however, was in not acknowledging that that same logic applies to the nation. Mr. Romney tried desperately to pivot from praising his handiwork in Massachusetts to trashing the very same idea as adapted by Mr. Obama. His was an efficient and effective state policy; Mr. Obama’s was “a power grab by the federal government.”
He tried to justify this with a history lesson on federalism and state experimentation, but, in fact, he said nothing about what makes Massachusetts different from its neighbors or any other state. And why would he immediately repeal the Obama mandate if elected president? Because Mr. Obama wants a “government takeover of health care,” while all he wanted was to insure the uninsured.
That distinction makes no sense, and the disconnect undermines the foundation of Mr. Romney’s candidacy.
I absolutely agree. In fact, the problem isn’t federalism and state experimentation, it is a principle – government, at any level, doesn’t have the right to compel a person to buy something if they choose not too. One of the nasty little problems with big government types is that freedom allows too many choices and Romney is no different than those on the left who’d like to pare those choices down for their convenience and to extend the power and control of government (and their central planning efforts).
Newt Gingrich, who recently joined the run for the presidency, is no different than Romney as his record tells us and don’t let him try to fool you into thinking otherwise. Huffington Post gives a partial list of the times Gingrich has touted health insurance mandates or attempted to argue in their favor from a moral perspective:
At an Alegent Health event in Omaha in 2008, Gingrich said it was "fundamentally immoral" for a person to go without coverage, show up at an emergency room and demand free care.
During the keynote address to the Greater Detroit Area Health Council’s annual Health Trends Conference in April 2006, Gingrich said he would require Americans earning above a certain income level to buy health insurance or post a bond, the Detroit Free Press reported.
In a June 2007 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Gingrich wrote, "Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it." An "individual mandate," he added, should be applied "when the larger health-care system has been fundamentally changed."
And in several of his many policy and politics-focused books, Gingrich offered much the same.
In 2008’s "Real Change," he wrote, "Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor."
In 2005’s "Winning the Future," he expanded on the idea in more detail: "You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. … We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system."
"People whose income is too low should receive Medicaid vouchers and tax credits to buy insurance," he continued. "Large risk pools (association health plans are one model) should be established so low-income people can buy insurance as inexpensively as large corporations. Furthermore, it should be possible to buy your health insurance on-line to lower the cost as much as possible."
Show me the difference between Gingrich and Obama (or Romney) on their desire to use the power of government to mandate insurance coverage. The fact that Gingrich draws a line at a particular level of income doesn’t change the fact that in principal he agrees that government should have that power.
Just as serious a problem, at least for me, is Gingrich’s stance on global warming. Gingrich appeared in a commercial for the “We initiative” with Nancy Pelosi. The We Initiative is sponsored by Al Gore’s “Alliance for Climate Protection”.
This alone is reason enough, in my book, to totally dismiss a Gingrich run.
Add in his support for an individual mandate for health insurance and his candidacy is DOA as far as I’m concerned. And Romney? On life support with a poor prognosis for the future.