Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Plea To End Hero Worship

First, this. Jennifer Rubin's interview with Jonathan Gruber. What is interesting is the policy debates among Romney and his advisers.
Gruber tells me, “What I can tell you is that there was an active debate on the individual mandate.” He explains, “On one hand, Romney felt people were free-riding” on the health care system — that is, remaining uninsured but burdening the government health care system when they became sick or injured. On the other hand, Gruber says, was the “freedom” argument about the mandate. He says, “What I’d like to think carried the day was that I pointed out that without the mandate you would spend the same money and cover fewer people.”

Gruber says in the one face-to-face meeting he had with Romney, it was clear Romney had made the “final call.” Gruber tells me: “He was the champion of the plan. He really was the consummate management consultant.” 
Of course, now Romney is backing away. I wish he wouldn't. There were good reasons then to support an individual mandate, as cited by Gruber. Regardless, this brings me to something that I think we should all discuss at Right Speak.

I just recently had a conversation with John G and we both agreed that the political discourse within conservative circles has almost entirely neglected policy discussions. Instead, we are driven by personality cults. We have raised leaders above the ideas that ought to fuel the conservative movement. Romney's health care policies perfectly describe this dearth of serious debate.

On the one hand, Rombots insist that it is very significant that Romneycare's individual mandate was a state program and Obamacare's individual mandate was a federal program. They don't explain why this matters from a policy standpoint, only from a constitutional standpoint. What is left unsaid is that Romney really does believe that the individual mandate is good policy. That is why he put it in place in MA. But because of their desire to cover Romney from being implicated in Obamacare, the Rombots argue day and night about the "differences" (there are a few) between the two health care programs.

On the other hand, Romney's opponents could care less about having an actual debate about Romneycare and the individual mandate. For them, the policy details don't matter either. They are attached to a different candidate and so they want to hammer Romney over his health care plan. Some of Romney's opponents have even straight-faced lied about his plan in order to blast Romney himself. In today's political environment, ideas have become less important than the candidates themselves.

Folks, there has got to be a better way than this. I have defended Romneycare over and over again and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I kind of, sort of prefer Romney. In fact, I am not sure if I am going to support him again (calling Jeb or Mitch?). I try to frequently criticize him. There is much that I disagree with Romney on.

It does us no good to divide into 'candidate camps.' Romney will not save us. Neither will Palin. Responsible, limited government based on conservative principles will. Let's not forget that.


Pablo said...

Note: I don't mean to imply that there are not genuine reasons not to dislike Romneycare. I just hope that such distaste stems from a truthful understanding of the bill and not from a desire to tear down your favored candidate's opponent.

Likewise there may be good reasons to distinguish between Romneycare and Obamacare, but let's not do it just because we want Romney to win.

Right Wingnut said...

Pablo, There are many, many people who are bothered by RomneyCare who are NOT currently committed to a candidate. Many of them do know the facts, and just do not like it.

Responsible, limited government based on conservative principles will. Let's not forget that.

Many people don't believe that you can support programs like RomneyCare and ObamaCare and truly believe in "limited government." Sometimes, it's less about the minute details of every individual law, and more about how comfortable you are about government intruding in our lives.

BOSMAN said...

The point is that Romney was Governor of MA, not President of The U.S., when he developed his plan.

He believed that his health care plan would help ease MA PROBLEMS and NOT THOSE OF THE U.S.

He has said ALL ALONG that states should determine their own health care needs and come up with something on their own.

Knowing ALL THE ABOVE, How can Romney not go after Obamacare and desire it's repeal.

Pablo said...


I have documented the fact that many in the conservative movement championed the individual mandate before Obama did. I am talking about the Heritage Foundation, the Club for Growth, Reason magazine. Jim DeMint and Rick Santorum praised Romney's health care policies as conservative. Grassley from Iowa said that there was wide bipartisan support for the individual mandate. Going back to Richard Nixon, the individual mandate has always been considered a conservative idea.

Yet, in late 2009 Barack Obama supported it. And so everyone all of a sudden changed their minds about it. It's politics, not policy disagreements.

Pablo said...


I have a simple question for you:

If the individual mandate is good policy for MA, is it good policy for other states? And I am not talking about its popularity. There is lots of good policy that isn't popular. I am asking you if you think that the individual mandate would make Arkansas' health care industry better? Or Alaska's? or the rest of the US?

Right Wingnut said...

Pablo, I don't recall the mandate being such a hit with Fred Thompson and the others in that 2008 debate. I assume you know which debate I'm talking about it. I know of a great new blog where the video can be found, but I'm trying to be nice today.

Right Wingnut said...

And I don't know of anyone who argues that MA didn't have the right to adopt their own plan. Of course they had the right. But many fear that Obama will be able to diffuse justifiable criticism of ObamaCare simply by pointing to Romney's plan in MA. If I was Obama, that's exactly what I would do. Wouldn't you?

Doug NYC GOP said...

We all live with mandates in our lives, and continue to remain a free people.

If you want to buy a home, you are mandated to carry fire, flood or some kind of hazzard ins, depending on where you live, otherwise no dice on getting a mortgage.

If you want to own and drive a car, you are mandated to have insurance to do so - otherwise, no loan, no lease and you are hitching a ride to work. (You can forget about meeting women as well.)

True, you don't have to drive a car or buy a home, but if you waant to, you will have to face and deal with mandates, in order to aquire those goods and services.

If you walk in to any retail store, restuarant, or service provider, you are expected and mandated to pay your bill. Don't think so? Try reading your credit card agreement. It will give ObamaCare a run for it's money in rules and regs.

If you want to become an airline pilot, do you think you just walk in to an airport, crank up the old Sopwith Camel and fly off?

No, you are mandated to get trained (after meeting Government required health standards) to be trained.

So why, when it comes to HC, do we freak out when we are expected to pay our own way?

I'm all for personal freedom and liberty, but
don't have a drink with me and not throw money on the bar.

Doug NYC GOP said...


Romney has NOT backed away from his MA HC reform. He recently said he proud of it. He has said he would "do something differently" and "it's not perfect" but people are assuming he means the mandate.

Actually he has adroitly not said what he would specifically change. Which is wise at this juncture, as critics are throwing out various claims day afte day. If he tried answering each charge, it would be futile and a waste of time.

Considering most of the bomb throwers are just blathering "group speak" right now, Romney is wise to let this just play out.

Right Wingnut said...

Doug, You just made a great argument for the individual mandate. I hope Obama isn't one of our regular readers. ;)

Doug NYC GOP said...

RWN - ObamaCare is alot more involved and is designed on a grand scale, to end private health insurance , as we know it.

Romney's plan is as far from Obama's as a Model T is from a Corvette. true both are cars, but are they really the same?

Doug NYC GOP said...

RWN - Thanks. I guess I'm a Liberal now.

Doug NYC GOP said...

How are the Conservative-Libertarians going to enforce all those free market reforms?

Just because you make Health Insurance easier to buy, does that mean people will actually do so, especially when current Mandated Emergency Treatment is available to them?

Dave said...


Hate to disagree with you, but Romney WILL save us. The reason is that he has an extremely rare, frequently demonstrated, ability to correctly analyze complex data surrounding insoluble problems and come out with optimal tradeoffs.

He turned around more than 150 companies. He brought others, Staples being merely one example, from concept to major corporation.

He did it with the Olympics, and he did it with Massachusetts.

We have other good candidates, but no one with Mitt's credentials.

Anonymous said...

Pablo, I don't think Romney has backed off the plan or the mandates, either. But my understanding is that mandates were not Romney's ideal choice. Yes, he signed the law and is proud of it, as well he should be.

He's been consistent in saying the mandates are not right as a national policy. Are you saying you wish he would come out for a national mandate?


RW- the factcheck.org article about MassCare explains a lot. Maybe you should read it-- or read it again. Just a suggestion~

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that Romney will save us, but he would HELP and do alot BETTER in getting the economy back up and getting people to work again. Romney was right when he said this would be an on the job training for Obama and it sure looks that way. About MAcare, pablo's right, some of these so called conservatives who praised romney for masscare are now trying to distant themselves from it when obamacare became unpopular.

Romney has said all along each state should do what works for them many times.He had to do something in MA to solve their problems. It didnt work out quite well, and hes admitted that, but it makes me sick when people say he has to APOLOGIZE for romneycare as if he did something wrong. I dont think romneycare will be an issue for romney, he'll have plenty of time and debates to defend himself and the people will understand.

By the way, cool site.

The Rock

BOSMAN said...



If the individual mandate is good policy for MA, is it good policy for other states? And I am not talking about its popularity. There is lots of good policy that isn't popular. I am asking you if you think that the individual mandate would make Arkansas' health care industry better? Or Alaska's? or the rest of the US?"

Pablo, I have no idea. I live in Massachusetts. I would imagine if states were looking at the same issues that we were in MA, then perhaps they might want to take a look at it.



CraigS said...

Great posting
Problems and pragmatic solutions. That's what it's all about. Many are quick to criticize from a missing perpective. Romneycare was an attempt to solve a problem. If the problem didn't exist, the solution was in error.
Do we have problems in America or are we a gigantic Photoplay magazine with sound bites and
CGI videos ? Did Massachusetts have fiscal problems when Romney arrived ? Yes indeed. Was medical care part of the problem ? Again, yes indeed. Was the solution effective ? Again, yes. Was the solution for everybody , Dems and Republicans ? Yes indeed. Do the Mass voters like the solution ? yes again.
The point is Governors are elected to Govern. They are expected to solve problems ....not run for other offices. They are paid well to analyze, think, and solve.......not posture and self promote themselves.
When we consider potential 2012 candidates, we should use a matrix that identifies problems identified and problems solved. The second step might be to identify problems common to different states and compare similar problems with alternate solutions.
We deparately need competence in this country, not self promotion, news cameos and self righteous boasting about generic inanity.
I , for one, would favor a candidate who has tried and failed over another candidate who never tried. As TR said.....it's the man in the arena who is of value, not the image in the political mirror


OhioJOE said...

"I , for one, would favor a candidate who has tried and failed over another candidate who never tried." By that logic we should vote for Mr. Gingrich.

I agree with you Pablo that neither Mrs. Palin nor Mr. Romney will solve all our problem. That is is part because they are both human and part because the current idiot in the WH screwed up the country so much.

For the most part, I actually do not mind your camp yip yapping about how wonderful Mr. Romney is. That is preferable that having Mrs. Palin's family attacked.

However, on a side note even though they were most likely invited by Ellie. I suspect the last round of trash talk was by liberal trolls instead of Romneyites. A number of Romneyite may be ignorant, but few of them as nutty as the Trig Birthers we have seen over the last week.

Rob said...

You asked Bosman if the individual mandate would be good policy for other states. From a policy standpoint, very few states would do well with the individual mandate. The reason for this is the income disparity between residents of Mass and the other states, and the fact that Mass started out with a relatively small amount of uninsured citizens to begin with. Many individuals in other states, especially in the South, simply cannot afford the Massachusetts care plan. A mandate in and of itself is not good policy, it depends on external factors such as average income, the current amount of uninsured citizens, and current healthcare prices in the state.

Romney did what was right for Massachusetts. Your parroting of Jennifer Rubin (Who is obviously anti-Romney) is silly. Romney is not running away from his healthcare plan, unless you count saying he is proud of it as running away. Simply repeating anti-Romney tripe does not make it so.

You are correct that we shouldn't hero-worship a candidate. However, repeating obvious misrepresentation of the candidate in order to appear open minded and analytical is just as intellectually dishonest as pretending the candidates are perfect.

DanL said...

Other than Jesus there is no one person who will save us. I do not say that tongue in cheek. I am pretty cynical right now and I believe that all candidates will further erode our fiscal solvency, sovereignty, and constitutional freedoms. Some will just do it fast than others. Obama is going at it full throttle. While the various republican candidates would be much slower at leading us down the path to destruction, they all will be headed that way.