Mitt Romney, writing in National Review, offers his latest exercise in presenting Romneycare as a Tea Party freedom solution of sorts:
If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. The executive order would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them.
As I have stated time and again, a one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is simply not the answer. Under our federalist system, the states are “laboratories of democracy.” They should be free to experiment. By the way, what works in one state may not be the answer for another.
Romney is under fire from conservatives because the health care plan he passed as Governor of Massachusetts is built around the dreaded individual mandate, which is now widely viewed on the right as a profound threat to American liberty — making it an even graver threat to his presidential hopes.
Romney’s solution to this problem, as shown above, is to argue that the mandate on the Federal level is unacceptable, whereas on the state level it’s acceptable, as long as states are free to “experiment” as they see fit. Thus his vow to immediately grant each state a waiver from “Obamacare.”
The problem for Romney, however, is that he has explicitly suggested that Romneycare should serve as a model for efforts to reform our health system on the Federal level.
Earlier this month, in another context entirely, CNN dug up an old quote from an unaired 2009 Romney interview with the network that illustrates this clearly — and this quote is especially relevant in light of Romney’s new waiver stunt. In that 2009 CNN interview, Romney said:
“I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans. The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from.”
Emphasis mine. The plain truth is that Romney was proud of his achievement in Massachusetts, and thought it could — and should — help influence policymaking on the Federal level. Such were Romney’s policy instincts, and this latest effort to wriggle off the Romneycare hook with a 50-state waiver vow won’t do a thing to change it.