Mitt Romney's political missteps

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Friday, November 5, 2010; 9:20 PM

As someone who lives in Massachusetts, I see the irony in Mitt Romney urging President Obama to seize a "Nixon to China" moment ["Slay the job-killing beast," op-ed, Nov. 3].

The most outstanding recent example of such a bold and unconventional action was when a pro-business Republican governor named Mitt Romney spearheaded universal health coverage in our state. It combined continued reliance on private insurance companies, a government "exchange" to assist consumers in finding the best policy, subsidies to help those who could not otherwise afford coverage and, above all, an "individual mandate" requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay a fee. This approach was opposed by many liberal Democrats who preferred a Medicare-style "single payer" system, but Mr. Romney extolled the Republican principle of "personal responsibility."

Now, when that program is virtually replicated at the federal level, it's derided as "socialism." In fact, Mr. Romney ought to claim trademark infringement over the term "Obamacare." It's really "Romneycare," and it's largely been a success in Massachusetts, where 94 percent of people now have health insurance. Mr. Romney deserves much of the credit, but he apparently doesn't even want to take responsibility for it. I thought taking responsibility was supposed to be a Republican virtue.

Robert Morrison, Arlington, Mass.

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Why would anyone entrust high government office to a man who writes, as Mitt Romney did, that "government is a greater threat to America in 2010 than China was in 1972." To be convinced of the poverty of Mr. Romney's argument, one need only look to the adjacent column ["Unlock the economy"], in which business executive Mohamed A. El-Erian described "a private sector that faces too many headwinds" and that needs, in consequence, government help. Since Mr. Romney was one of the architects of a statewide government health-care system in Massachusetts, one can only read his outburst as pandering to what he imagines to be the electorate's current mood.

Richard Handler, Charlottesville


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