2012 might be one deal Romney can’t close

May 13, 2011

During his private equity career, Mitt Romney was famous as a supersalesman who could dazzle clients with data. But his PowerPoint mastery may not be enough to make him U.S. president. Thursday’s slide-show defense of the controversial health plan he created as Massachusetts governor likely failed to satisfy conservative critics.

Judged purely as political theater, the hour-long, televised presentation Romney gave at the University of Michigan was impressive. The faltering Republican frontrunner speedily navigated through the healthcare problems facing the Bay State when he took office and how he went about devising a solution. He explained that before his 2004 reforms, almost a half million state residents were uninsured. Now it’s down to 100,000 thanks to the government programs he started, Romney said. And he didn’t need to raise taxes to do it. Few of his 2012 rivals can match his policy knowledge.

Right-wing Republicans didn’t consider Romneycare as a disqualifier when the former Bain Capital chief ran for the party’s nomination back in 2008. But it’s Romney’s bad luck that a key feature of his healthcare plan can also be found in President Barack Obama’s: a requirement all citizens purchase health insurance if they can afford it. A decade ago, some conservatives pushed the idea as a matter of “personal responsibility.” And as smart economics, too. They saw it as a way of stopping a free-rider problem since American emergency rooms will treat whomever walks through their doors.

In the more libertarian Tea Party GOP of 2011, however, the “individual mandate” is considered a grievous breach of personal liberty, whether it applies at the state level or federal. Indeed, the rule’s constitutionally is the heart of legal challenges to Obamacare. And Romney’s continued support for his version has seriously damaged his White House prospects. To conservative activists, it’s about values not economic results. His deluge of numbers, no matter how elegantly displayed, is politically irrelevant.

Romney, well financed and with a crack campaign team behind him, could still be the nominee. Some voters will surely like that he’s sticking to his guns. But if someday Romney gives a PowerPoint on how he failed to win the GOP nod in 2012, there’s no doubt what will be on that first slide.

 

6 comments

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You either believe in free markets or you don’t. Mitt does not. So much for his economic credentials. That he doesn’t understand why this is a political millstone shows he lacks political savvy as well. Case closed. He can’t win the primary.

Posted by pduggan | Report as abusive

Mr. NobleKin–I am actually sort of dumbfounded at your level of trust in the federal government to efficiently and wisely spend your healthcare tax dollars. Outside a small minority of die-hard statists, which you obviously are, there are few Americans who hold such high regard for the efficiency of the gov’t to handle our money. Perhaps the insurance companies would not be the problem to our system that they now are if it weren’t for the feds sticking their fingers into every aspect of healthcare and forcing inefficiencies into the system. Take a historical look at the upward spiral of healthcare costs in the US and I think you’ll see a rather clear and obvious correlation to those rising costs and the time in which the federal gov’t stuck their noses into the healthcare system. Oh, I forgot, statists such as yourself don’t accept history as it actually occured when it doesn’t fit your worldview–you have to rewrite it to fit your politics. Nevertheless, I wish you well in trying to convince Americans that the federal gov’t will wisely spend our tax dollars to build a more efficient and effective healthcare system for all Americans. In fact, I think that should be a major element for the democrat platform in the coming election. Run ads promoting your views so we can all see clearly what you intend.

Posted by ronlsb | Report as abusive

Whenever Obama advocates some policy or action, Republicans immediately, unanimously oppose it, in tones of outrage. This happens even if Republicans have supported exactly the same policies in the recent past.

Such a compulsion to oppose an opponent’s ideas can be quite burdensome to a candidate, but generally few reporters seem to notice or report such little contradictions.

Now we learn that even a major presidential candidate’s choices are being constrained, not by his own party’s policies, but by those of his prospective opponent, as filtered through the weirdly distorting glasses of right-wing advocacy groups.

This slavish opposition to anything Obama supports is childish and pathetic. What a sad condition we find our politics in now.

Posted by Ralphooo | Report as abusive

[...] is the front runner based on competence levels alone. However, It is getting comical though the great lengths he is going to defend Romneycare in Massachusetts while still bashing Obama’s plan.  It is [...]

[...] 2012 might be one deal Romney can’t close [...]

Should Romney win the R nomination, and further that should he win the presidency, it would be immediately one of the worst presidencies ever because the push-pull from TPers would destroy any reasonable action he’d take and force him into crazy-town and depression causing policies. Until anyone on the right will advocate for the federal govt needing $3T in revenue and cutting spending to less than that (perhaps to $2.8T – both achievable within one term with cross aisle cooperation) then nothing will get fixed and things will only get worse.

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive

Right now Romney and the rest of the so-called Republican field doesn’t appear to be able to zip their own flies.

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive

You may think you’ll see a rather clear and obvious correlation to those rising costs and the time in which the federal gov’t stuck their noses into the healthcare system–but you would have it backwards. Healthcare costs began to rise as the “market” for healthcare was given over to private hospitals, private health insurance companies, a protected pharmaceutical monopoly, and fee-for-service physicians.
Some free market. Racket is more like it.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive