Favorite

Romney's Obamacare 

Since it's too late in the election cycle for much else, can we engage in a historical what-if? Specifically, what if Mitt Romney had peaked in the spring of 2008 rather than 2012?

His own fortunes, Barack Obama's and the country's might have been considerably different than they proved to be. But whether Romney in 2008 would have won or lost the presidency, this year's election and its great national debate might barely resemble the present reality.

Harkening back to those halcyon days may help us put the horrors of this year's mid-term elections in better perspective. For one thing, regardless of whether Romney or Obama had been elected in 2008, we likely would have Obamacare or something very much like it today and it almost certainly would not be playing the critical role in races across the South and Midwest. Campaigns would be just as nasty and the quotients of hate and distortion just as high, but the parties would have found other reasons to say the sky is falling.

Democratic candidates from Sen. Mark Pryor to newcomers running for a state legislative seat from rural Arkansas counties would not face the quandary of explaining or defending their votes for the Affordable Care Act or explaining why they had nothing to do with it.

Remember the situation in the spring of 2008. Sen. Hillary Clinton was no longer a cinch for the Democratic nomination because Sen. Obama paid attention to the small primaries and caucuses that she ignored. The early Republican frontrunner, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had turned into a phantom and the other favorite, Romney, was sandbagged in Iowa by Bible-thumping Mike Huckabee and in New Hampshire, next door to home, by Sen. John McCain. When Super Tuesday left him in second place but with no momentum, Romney pulled out so that McCain would have a clear shot and a chance to build for the big race in the fall. Huckabee stayed in to torment McCain a while longer. It was a noble gesture by Romney but he proved four years later that grinding on can pay off.

Had Romney played on and won the nomination in 2008, the fall campaign would have been quite different. He did not need to choose an exciting youthful running mate, as the handlers of the aging John McCain felt he had to do, so Romney would not have picked a pretty Alaska airhead. After Sarah Palin's frightening exhibitions of ignorance, millions of independent voters lost confidence in McCain's judgment and he never got it back.

The big ponderable is what would Obama and Romney, head to head, have said about the latter of the two big issues of the day, war and health care? They had virtually the same idea about how to insure everyone in America and give them ready access to medical care. If anything, Romney was more ardent about it.

Two years earlier, Romney had passed in the Massachusetts legislature a bill that became the framework for Obamacare, passed by Congress in 2010. He then announced he would not run for governor again and set out on his campaign for the presidency, carrying the blueprint for an achievement that had evaded 10 presidents in the 20th century.

In Massachusetts, he had set up an exchange where insurance companies offered policies for individuals and employers. For people who could afford to pay some but not all of the premiums, the state would subsidize them. People whose incomes were too low would receive Medicaid. That, of course, is the foundation of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare.

That also had been the plan designed by the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1990 and was the Republican alternative to the Clinton plan in 1993-94. By 2008, Hillary Clinton had adopted it and so, in some form, did all the other Democratic candidates for president except Dennis Kucinich, who favored Medicare for all.

Obama was something of an outlier. He did not favor a mandate. Affordable insurance would be offered but people would not be required to buy it or pay a penalty. Clinton, Joe Biden and John Edwards scolded him for it. The plan would not work without a mandate, they said, because only sick people would buy the insurance and this would drive the premiums sky-high.

Romney was even tougher about the mandate. He would not require employers to buy insurance but individuals would have to buy it or, like Obamacare later, pay a penalty.

"I like mandates," Romney said. "The mandates work. If somebody can afford insurance and decides not to buy it and then they get sick, they ought to pay their own way ..." He called it "an American principle."

Now, the mandate is the main Republican criticism of Obamacare, the only criticism that has anything to do with something that actually is in the law. The architect of the Romney plan helped sell the new president and Congress on the mandate's necessity.

So we may presume that Romney would have passed his plan if he had been elected in 2008, unless the majority Democrats drew up like Republicans to prevent a giant achievement by the other party.

Obama and Romney surely would have battled on who could be trusted to do the insurance markets and Medicaid right, but wouldn’t that debate have precluded the massive advertising campaign in 2009 and 2010 that characterized the insurance market, the mandates and Medicaid as an un-American undertaking?

And the horror dominating our election next week would be…what?

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Obamacare

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Ethics upended

    Every week, Donald Trump finds another way to upend conventional ethics in government and politics. Here's one that has been in the making since the campaign but is reaching maturity in the Russian investigation: He is turning the heroes of government scandals into the villains.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • The ACA can be fixed

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened his 51 disciples in the Senate and his party with the gravest injury imaginable.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • As always, a lot of what happens in the name of Jesus has nothing to…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • And I quote, "It makes complete sense that a God who favors a man who…

    • on July 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation