I recently argued that, while the individual mandate is a liability in the primary, Mitt Romney will have compelling arguments against Obamacare in the general election. To put it mildly, many conservatives didn’t buy that. But now Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru have done me one better and put together a script for Romney. It reads in part:
Your health-care plan, Mr. President, spends a trillion dollars on yet another uncontrollable federal entitlement program and on a massive expansion of a failing Medicaid system. It has an unconstitutional rationing board cut hundreds of billions from Medicare without being answerable to the public, without giving seniors more options, and without using the money to shore up the program or reduce the deficit. It raises hundreds of billions in taxes on employment, investment, and medical research; and after all of that, it wouldn’t even reduce the growth of health-care costs, which is the heart of the problem. And your defense of all that is that it was based on a state program that doesn’t actually do any of those things? . . .
Federal tax policy puts employers rather than patients in charge of insurance. States can try to salvage what they can in this system. But ultimately they need — we all need — to end the federal government’s arbitrary and senseless interference in health care.
Instead your law increases federal control. It spends money we don’t have, takes choices and access to care away from seniors, raises taxes, and forces middle-class families to give up the coverage they have. Like so much of what your administration has done, it makes the problem worse. That’s why the first step toward a better health-care market — one that’s affordable, innovative, and in keeping with our founding principles of limited government — is to repeal your health-care legislation.
There you go. Not bad, is it? And in fact it contains all the criticisms of Obamacare that Romney, at one time or another, has made over the last couple of years: It taxes too much, worsens our fiscal situation, doesn’t restrain health-care costs, burdens businesses and rations care.
Moreover, Romney actually does have his own ideas for replacing Obamacare — equalization of tax treatment for individual- and employer-purchased plans, Medicare reform based on a premium-support model, block-granting Medicaid, allowing interstate health-insurance sales and malpractice reform, to name a few of his proposals.
Should he begin a series of major policy rollouts (re-rollout, actually)? That would be a very productive use of his time. He might also bring Yuval, Ramesh and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) along for a town-hall meeting or two. Just saying.