Romney health plan too much to stomach?

Mitt Romney Mitt Romney has said his health plan will empower states to craft their own healthcare solutions

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Mitt Romney appears to have hit the rock with a splatter. That seems to be the consensus of the coverage of a vitally important speech anyhow.

Mr Romney is the front runner to become the Republican presidential candidate even though he hasn't officially declared. But he has two huge problems.

Problem number one: most Republicans loathe what they call "Obamacare", the president's plan for healthcare reform, which makes nearly all Americans take out health insurance.

And when Mr Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he introduced something pretty similar for those who lived in the state.

Whether it has worked should perhaps be the starting point of any debate. But that's not the political reality.

The majority of Republican party members can't stomach Mr Romney's plan, but he needs their votes to win the nomination.

Unapologetic defiance

He could just say he was wrong, which brings us to problem number two.

In the 2008 election, the main charge against him was that he flipped-flopped, and as a result he didn't fly. So an apology would reinforce the image of him as a man always changing his mind.

Mitt Romney shaking hands at the University of Michigan Mr Romney outlined his speech on Thursday at the University of Michigan

Instead, he's been resolute, awkwardly presenting a detailed PowerPoint presentation on what he would do about healthcare as president.

"I recognise that a lot pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that this was a boneheaded idea and I should just admit it - it was a mistake, and walk away," Mr Romney said, speaking at the University of Michigan.

He added: "I presume that a lot of folks think that if I did that, it would be good for me politically. There's only one problem with that: it wouldn't be honest."

There's more than one problem with this unapologetic defiance towards the right.

His plan may well appeal to independents, who count in the final playoff.


After all, not everyone thinks President Barack Obama's plan is terrible, and Mr Romney is making it clear his nationwide solution is different.

But he has to explain to conservatives how he can be so right and the president so wrong, when their programmes look so similar.

Mr Romney said: "Our plan was a state solution to a state problem. And his is a power grab by the federal government to put in place a one-size-fits plan across the nation."

So he bases his defence on the idea that different states should have different policies and the central government should not impose its will on them.

It is a central tenet of American Conservatism, beloved of the Tea Party in particular.

But it doesn't quite wash. After all they wouldn't go for banning guns or allowing free abortions just because it was done on a state level.

The Washington Post's conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin is "dumb struck" that Mr Romney can be so "dense".

The moderate Republican FrumForum says the arguments "will not serve him well".

The conservative National Review's blogger calls it terrible and illogical.

These comments follow a mauling in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal.

I can't see anything to comment on in the speech itself, but I doubt that it will make the party change its mind.

The Wall Street Journal declares in an editorial that Mr Romney would be better suited as President Obama's running mate than a Republican candidate, arguing that he has a "troubling failure of political understanding and principle", which amounts to a "fatal flaw". Ouch!

Has Mitt just hit a brick wall, or will he pick himself up, dust himself down and go on to win the nomination ?

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  • Comment number 137.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    LucyJ@134 How to grow? Ancient teachings, compassion and love, handed-on in naive or hypocritical fashion. Born under the rule of Fear and Greed, small rebellions tamed, we pass into full obedience. Our 'leaders' in the same trap, dare not speak of true democracy. One day the Word will get around more - against Mammon the 99 will challenge the 1's habitual raking of profit and power! Let us pray!

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    All the previous comments re American food made me think, yes, we do have great food in the US but the better food is often in small, out of the way cafes, church suppers,and folk's homes. And secondly, I think we were a nicer people before we started being concerned with menus & food sophistication.
    And thirdly, I like Mitt Romney but wish he'd show a little more energy or something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Pm: political WILL to fix it is not!

    There has to be a solution and the longer we wait, the worse it gets. Its like when you have a cut on your arm, do you wait for it to get infected?
    No, you put some ointment on it and bandage it, so it can heal.

    USA needs our politicians now more than ever to help us...the incentive is us. The stakes are the future of the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    All, US and UK included, still face the Giant Evils. UK NHS hobbled. Far-seeing politicians may have to wait, like Churchill watching the rise of Hitler, to be able to lead. Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. With faith we may share Democracy and survive for good. No win for Last Survivor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Romney will be President someday. I don't think he wants to be in the history books as he who knocked out our first black President. I expect him to do what Nixon did: crisscross America to campaign & raise money for local Republicans, then call in IOUs at the Republican convention. I'm a Democrat living in Massachusetts: I know he's a very smart politician. He could take Gingrich et al apart.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Lucy: USA was the first to put a man on the moon, now why can't we figure out health care system?

    PM: Why do you think we have not returned to the Moon since?
    Yes,we do know how to do that, but if our leadership has lost interest and there's no political will to restore NASA to its previous glory?

    Ditto with SS/Medicare/Medicaid crisis: know-how is there;

    political WILL to fix it is not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Huckabee announced he's not running. we'll see if his supporters flock to Romney, Gingrich (unlikely, imo), or to some like Ron Paul or Mitch Daniels (assuming Mitch gets in, which he hasn't decided yet.). Whether you like Huckabee or not, you have to admit he has a sizable group of supporters that are worth courting for a nomination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Senior citizens often live on fixed income, and the US is one of many nations having an aging population base. A national healthcare system could stabilize the costs of healthcare, and protect senior citizens from being financially exploited, among other considerations.

  • Comment number 128.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    714: what is so hard to understand that the budget is 75% health care

    If it counts for that much of the budget,why can't we do universal health care?

    USA was the first to put a man on the moon, now why can't we figure out health care system?

    You woudl think putting a man on the moon would be harder...

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    As far as lizards go, lizards are one of the coolest species on Earth, although you can't exactly cuddle with them.

    That being said, they can be pretty intense. THe other day something was eating all the chickens in the area, no one could figure out what it was and it turned out it was a former pet iguana which was like six feet long and had been released due to owner not wanting to take ca

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Pmk: 1. No such claim was made. I stated that pathological obesity (in prospective fathers and pregnant women) DOES have a major impact on infant mortality rates.

    Why would the father's weight have an impact on the baby?

    Doesn't the baby merely get the genetics?

  • Comment number 124.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    @121 The existing M&M schemes are only part of a national concern, where US healthcare is great IF a person can afford it, but the trouble is that too many cannot, often tragically. In the course of making a national healthcare system affordable the flaws of M&M could be addressed, too.

  • Comment number 122.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    #118 "Although the Massachusetts plan apparently has flaws, that plan was a place to begin, and with lessons now learned could now be improved upon."

    So why flawed, inefficient Medicare and Medicaid schemes have not yet been improved upon?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Re #115

    thanks, strontium:

    that's what I'd call a relevant post and link

    Reuters: Research shows that babies born to obese mothers are at increased risk for dying, particularly in the first weeks of life, compared to babies born to normal-weight mothers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    I assume that "pick himself up, dust himself down" is how you Brits say it, but over here Dorothy Fields' "pick yourself up, dust yourself off" lyrics to Jerome Kern's melody, originally sung by Fred Astaire, are so well known that President Obama quoted them in his inaugural address.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    @117 The broader point is that Romney did address a major issue and did what he could within state laws. Although the Massachusetts plan apparently has flaws, that plan was a place to begin, and with lessons now learned could now be improved upon. Similarly, Obamacare apparently has its flaws, too, but becomes the basis for further development. People do need healthcare, a genuine need.


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