Republican Hypocrisy on Health Care

There is a disturbing tendency among both Republicans and Democrats to criticize members of the opposite party for doing the same things that they do. For instance, George W. Bush ran on a promise to avoid engaging in “nation building” overseas the way that Bill Clinton had. We all know how that worked out. Many of the same liberals who criticized the Iraq War later supported President Obama’s decision to attack Libya, while many of the pro-Iraq War conservatives suddenly turned dovish when trouble started in Gaddafi’s domain. The same thing is happening with health care. Let’s see if anyone can tell me who stated, “Well, I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay — help pay for health care. And, and I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I’ve said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond or in some way you indicate you’ll be held accountable.” The correct answer is, Newt Gingrich. Now let’s see if anyone can tell me what law forces, “residents to have health insurance if they can afford it. Residents without health insurance face a tax penalty.” The correct answer is the Massachusetts Health Reform Act, signed by Mitt Romney. (Source: http://www.massresources.org/health-reform.html) So both the man who will almost certainly be the Republican Party nominee for president this year and a major former contender for the nomination have expressed support in the past for forcing people to buy health care whether they want it or not. I do not feel the need to rehash my opposition to the health care reform bill and my disagreement with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. I have already written a blog post about it. However, as someone who supports President Obama due to his gay rights policies, I am disgruntled by the fact that many conservatives will give Mitt Romney a free pass for supporting the very thing that they are angry at President Obama for. Mitt Romney has had chance after chance to flip flop and say that the Massachusetts law was a mistake. Instead, he has repeatedly stood by his decision to sign a bill requiring that people buy health care if they can afford it. Of course, flip-flopping at this point would make Romney look like he has no integrity. But what he he’s doing right now—defending his health care bill while attacking President Obama’s—also makes it look like he’s determined to disagree with the president no matter what. The problem is that the economy is the primary area Romney has to run on. Gay bashing is still appealing to a lot of people, but it’s a bad long-term strategy that is guaranteed to cost you most of the vote from Northeasterners, people in the 18-35 age range, and gays. Foreign policy might have initially been a politically profitable area for Romney, but that changed when President Obama did in 2 ½ years when Bush couldn’t do in over seven: catch Osama bin Laden. Yes, I realize that President Obama didn’t go to Pakistan and shoot bin Laden himself, but you get my point. My only complaint was that I would have rather bin Laden been taken alive, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment, and somehow I doubt Romney wants to use that criticism. Now, what foreign policy issue is Romney going to run on? Is he going to try to win with a platform calling for troops to be sent back into Iraq? That’ll sure go over well. So Romney is left having to focus on the economy. Ordinarily, this would be a winning strategy, since so many Americans are disgusted with President Obama’s economic performance. Some of them have gone beyond saying that he has failed to fix the economy and are rewriting history by acting like things such as federal debt didn’t exist before he took office. But a major part of President Obama’s economic platform is national health care, and Romney is in no position to go on the attack over this issue. He certainly can’t use the states’ rights argument. After all, a Federal Marriage Amendment isn’t exactly pro-states’ rights, and Romney supports that. I wonder how he would feel about leaving drug laws to the states. One of his most humorous arguments in defense of the health care plan he signed as governor was that polls showed that the majority of Massachusetts residents favored it. Well, duh. Massachusetts elected Charles Sumner, one of the only abolitionist politicians in antebellum America, to the Senate for over twenty years. The state elected Ted Kennedy for over forty. It was the second state to repeal its law against interracial marriage and the first to legalize gay marriage. It was the first state to elect a black U.S. Senator by popular vote. It is the only state that currently has a black governor. It was the only state to vote for George McGovern in 1972. Since 1964, the presidential election in which the Democratic Party became the unambiguously more liberal party, only Minnesota has voted Democrat in more presidential elections than Massachusetts, and only Rhode Island and Hawaii have equalled the Bay State in this regard. In short, Massachusetts is easily one of the top five most liberal states. So of course the majority of Massachusetts residents like RomneyCare. (I personally love the state’s liberalism on race and sexual orientation. Health care, not so much.) If Mitt Romney wants to make a campaign platform based on what people in Massachusetts want, he might as well not run. According to a poll taken on June 27th, President Obama leads Mitt Romney in support among Massachusetts voters by a whopping sixteen percentage points.

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