‘RomneyCare’ turns 5! Will Mitt celebrate?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
Font Size:

It’s an anniversary he’d just as soon forget.  This week, “RomneyCare” turns five.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is scheduled to appear at an event Monday to mark the five-year anniversary of the “landmark health care law”.  But Patrick, of course, wasn’t governor when the legislation passed.  That dubious honor belongs to former Gov. Mitt Romney, who will probably not be celebrating.

(The Boston Globe reports, “On Tuesday, the anniversary of the signing, the Massachusetts Democratic Party is planning to take a poke at Romney by throwing a mock ‘thank you” party with balloons and a cake.’)

Romney, of course, is going to run for the 2012 GOP nomination.  And while his attachment to health care legislation may pose serious problems among ideologically-motivated conservatives who are, on principle, opposed to individual mandates (see the video of Romney and Sen. Ted Kennedy at the bill signing ceremony) — Romney also faces another problem: The legislation hasn’t been effective.

This creates a dual problem for Romney.  Not only is his health care legislation an ideological liability in a GOP primary — but its failure also undermines the best argument he has for winning the nomination — that he’s “Mr. Fix it” (Romney, of course, has helped turn around struggling companies, and even the Olympics.)

To be sure, Romney will continue to dismiss ideological objections by arguing that state-based mandates are quite different from a federal one-size-fits-all government mandate.  He will then argue that the ineffectiveness of legislation is a result of Democrats altering his bill (after all, he was governor of Massachusetts, not Texas) — or of Democrats failing to implement it correctly.

Regardless, Romney will have a very difficult time extricating himself from his previous (and recent) comments — especially in the YouTube era.   For example, see this exchange from the 2008 primary campaign.

MODERATOR: “You seem to have backed away from mandates on a national basis.”

ROMNEY: “No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work.”

This week’s five-year anniversary “celebration” is merely the latest reminder that this issue isn’t going away. President Obama seems happy to remind folks that his plan was modeled on Romney’s, and if Obamacare makes its way to the Supreme Court, it could once again inject Romney’s legislation into the debate.