Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney begins his second bid for the presidency with an albatross around his neck. The sooner he admits his state version of ObamaCare was a mistake, the better.
As Mitt Romney announced the formation of his 2012 exploratory committee, waggish Democrats were “cheering” the fifth anniversary of RomneyCare, the state health care overhaul he brought to Massachusetts. “Mitt Romney is nothing short of a founding father of modern health reform,” declared New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley as he and other Democrats whooped it up with a RomneyCare birthday cake.
Democrats were really celebrating how RomneyCare hurts Romney’s chances with primary voters. Obama’s trillion-dollar-plus takeover of the health insurance industry was a huge factor in the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives last November, and the struggle to repeal ObamaCare may be the dominant domestic issue among Republican presidential hopefuls.
Romney has a few good things going for himself: his rescue of the scandal-ridden 2002 Winter Olympics, his ability to win votes in the most liberal of states and his experience in private equity management, in which he turned around ailing businesses.
He may understand the private sector better than his GOP rivals, but he clearly had a lapse in that understanding when pulled his medical act in Massachusetts. Paving the way for ObamaCare, Romney’s plan was the first time a state forced its residents to buy a product or service simply because they lived in the state.
Health costs have gone up in the Bay State significantly since Romney’s overhaul, and polls show residents believe RomneyCare is the reason. The uninsured still number over 100,000, despite his promise of “universal coverage.” And hundreds of thousands among the newly insured pay nothing for their state-mandated coverage, freeloading off those who do.