Let me begin with this proposition: Mitt Romney wasn’t a bad Governor of Massachusetts, and he probably wouldn’t be a bad President of the United States. That’s not to say that he would be a good one. So how does that make the case against Romney? It doesn’t.
But here’s what does: I don’t know what Mitt Romney would do as President, and neither do you. Romney has rebranded himself so many times, that it’s beyond comical. John Kerry was denounced as a flip-flopper in the 2004 Election, but he actually only flipped on one issue – the war in Iraq. Unfortunately for Kerry, it was his signature issue.
Romney’s rebranding of himself on issues has been well-documented in the media, but let’s just look at two to see the depth of his cynicism: first the abortion issue. Romney ran for Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994 and for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002. Against Kennedy he lost; against Shannon O’Brien he won. On both those occasions Romney declared himself completely pro-choice. He even derided O’Brien as “unbecoming” in one of their 2002 gubernatorial debates for questioning his pro-choice bona-fides. It’s all on YouTube.
Then, in 2008 and again in 2012, in his runs for President, Romney has declared himself staunchly pro-life. Again, it’s on YouTube. Now, people can occasionally have a change of heart about an issue, but abortion isn’t usually one of them. Especially for a devout mormon. Abortion is the kind of issue that people have deep beliefs about because they either believe life begins at conception or they don’t. I’ve known that I was pro-choice since I was fourteen, and my conviction on that has never waivered. Romney couldn’t figure this out until he was 55 and the Governor of Massachusetts?
Ted Kennedy was right back in 1994. Mitt Romney isn’t pro-choice or anti-choice, he’s multiple choice. The same can be said for his stand on many other issues.
Second, the health care issue: Romney’s signature achievement as Governor was “Romneycare,” (An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care, Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006). This was the first act in the nation to require the “individual mandate.” It was the principle on which Obamacare was modeled. And yes, Romney did reach across the aisle to work with the Democratic State Legislature, and they reached back. That’s how the deal was done. When Romney gets a taste of his own Tea Party-flavored Congress, he may long for the days of his 87% Democratic State Legislature in the Commonwealth. You could at least talk to them.
Why did Obama model his health care plan on Romney’s proposal? Because the individual mandate had secured the cooperation of the insurance industry, making it possible to get enacted. Democrats had previously tried, and tried hard to enact universal health care. In Massachusetts, we actually enacted a universal health care plan back in 1987, at the end of the Dukakis administration. The plan was negotiated out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and was to be funded through a sales tax on services. I know, because like David MacKenzie and Brian Rosman, I was there. Bill Weld dismantled the program when he became Governor, so we’ll never know how it would actually have worked.
The Clinton administration tried again in 1993 through the Task Force on National Health Care Reform that Hillary Clinton controversially chaired. Their 1000+ page proposal centered on an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all of their employees through competitive but closely regulated health maintenance organizations. It got such opposition from the insurance industry and their “Harry and Louise” ad campaign, that it imploded under its own weight.
Enter the conservative Heritage Institute, who proposed the individual mandate in 1989 as an alternative to single-payer health care. From its inception, the idea was championed as a “free-market approach” to health-care reform. It was this idea that Romney brought to the Democratic legislature, and this idea which eventually became the core of Romneycare.
The Republicans turned against it not because they opposed the idea, but because Obama succeeded with it. He did what no President on either side of the aisle was to do before him – he actually got something enacted. The Republicans hated it, but it was their idea! And yet, when it came to a vote, not a single one of them was willing to cross party lines and vote for it because Obama had proposed it. If you want to see the definition of political cynicism, there it is.
And what did Romney do? He took his signature achievement and threw it under the bus. He literally (okay, figuratively) threw it under the bus. That speaks volumes to the man’s character.
For Romney to argue that universal health care should be left to all of the states is like arguing that every state should have its own social security system. For Romney to argue that the abortion question should be returned to the states is equally cynical. That’s why Roe v. Wade was decided. We already know what would happen if the abortion question were to return to the states: Massachusetts would legalize it and states like Oklahoma would forbid it. So if you lived in Oklahoma and you wanted an abortion, you’d have to go back to the coat hanger or travel to Massachusetts. Some choice!
Would Romney appoint an anti-abortion Supreme Court justice to overturn Roe v. Wade? I don’t know, and neither do you. Would Romney actually repeal Obamacare and send the issue back to the states? I don’t know, and neither do you. But why take the risk?
My bottom line is that Mitt Romney cannot be trusted, especially to provide ballast for the extreme elements in his own party.