Romneycare vs. Obamacare

I’ll admit it…. I was a Mitt guy in 2008.  And while there are candidates who could enter that might make me change my mind in 2012 (Christie, Ryan, possibly Mitch Daniels) it is starting to look like I’ll be a Romney supporter again in 2012.

There are certainly a lot of critiques of Romney and I will admit that some of them are valid.  Romney certainly has made his share of political gaffes (lifelong hunter?).  And he certainly has changed his mind/flip-flopped (depending much credit you give him) on some issues, especially abortion.

But one thing I don’t think is valid is the commonly stated charge that Romneycare = Obamacare.  Even Politifact found this claim to be mostly true.  Is it possible that Politifact might be wrong on this one? (Yes, there was a hint of sarcasm in that last question)

Over a year ago, David French outlined 4 huge differences between the Massachusetts health care bill and Obamacare (I’ve just put in the bullet points below… I highly recommend reading French’s article).

1. RomneyCare was uniquely designed for Massachusetts; ObamaCare is a one-size-fits-all imposition on all states, regardless of their economic condition

2. RomneyCare was enacted only after Mitt balanced the state budget

3. Mitt created bipartisan consensus while Obama rammed his reform down our throats and against the majority opinion of the American people

4. RomneyCare is constitutional; ObamaCare may very well prove to be an unconstitutional abuse of federal power

Mitt’s biggest key to success in the primary will be to find an effective way to show that there is a lot about Romneycare that is very different than Obamacare.  He has the facts on his side, but I think it is still going to be an uphill battle.  Romney is the frontrunner, so it goes without saying that everyone else in the field will be trying to attack him on this point.


  1. The Lorax says:

    Enjoyed your analysis here, Ryan. My question is that this dichotomy doesn’t address the real problem that conservatives have with Obamacare and Romneycare… that it is “socialism” and a “redistribution of wealth” and an “overreach by government.”

    There’s not a whole lot of difference between Obamacare and Romneycare in terms of that inherency argument. Sure there is policy differentiations to be made, but the folks voting in the primary aren’t wonks. At all.

    So that may not be a winning argument for Romney, even though it is persuasive for the educated/corporate/economic/policy wonk Republicans (which are the voters who are already planning on voting for Romney). I wasn’t surprised to see the economic and scale factors weigh heavily with you as you are an actuary, right?–but I don’t think this is an argument that will be persuasive to those “Tea Party” Republican primary voters. What do you think?

  2. Yes, I agree entirely. You eloquently made the point that I was trying to get at in my last paragraph.

    Romney has an interesting tightrope to walk. I realize this sounds crazy, but I honestly don’t think he particularly needs all that much Tea Party support to win the primary. Look at the map from 2008

    If Romney can win the states he won last time and some of the big McCain states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, that will be enough. He basically can ignore the Huckabee states (many of which, truth be told, will be voting for a “True Christian Leader”, not a Mormon) and try to win the more liberal states in the primary (conservatives in liberal states basically just want someone who can win in the general, and that is probably Mitt).

    Mitt just has to make sure he is seen as conservative enough such that we don’t get a 3rd party Tea Party candidate. That would be a disaster. So long as every serious candidate in the primary warmly endorses Mitt at the end (like Romney did with McCain), he should be fine.

  3. Republicans need a practical businessperson, who can solve fiscal problems and not on the backs of middle class voters, where the big numbers are. Any diversion of attention to other issues, such as “birther” notions or abortion, are election losers for the Republicans. They need a person of good personal character, not divorced and remarried to the tart du jour (Trump,) and someone in good physical condition (ideal weight, no chronic health problems.) Presidents are creatures created by the media in many ways: if they don’t look and sound good on TV and the internet, they won’t win votes. The job is tough and physically demanding and requires someone who is in peak condition, mentally and physicially.