Mitt Romney’s rotten Easter

Romneycare was the bipartisan blueprint for national health care reform, but governor needs to deny paternity

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney should be proud of the landmark bipartisan legislation he ushered through the Massachusetts legislature five years ago last week, and perhaps in private he is.

But if he wants to pass his party’s latest litmus test for Presidential candidates, he has to deny his greatest gubenatorial accomplishment three times before the cock crows.

According to the state’s current governor, Deval Patrick, “Romneycare” is working “brilliantly” and is a rousing success in getting slightly more than 98 percent of the state’s adults on the health insurance rolls (and more than 99 percent of the state’s children).

The White House has praised (and simultaneously damned) Romney’s plan as the “template” in its health reform effort. Romney’s lead allowed the President to improve upon the template by including more cost controls than the original (Patrick is tackling  cost control as he attempts to move the Massachusetts system from a fee-for-service model to a cost-per-insured model).

The biggest difference between Romneycare and Obamacare is not in the plans’ content, but in the tenor of the debate that surrounded each. The process in Massachusetts was one in which parties from all corners worked together to craft a solution. In Washington, half the members of the Congress sat on their hands. And when they were not sitting on their hands, they were whipping their constituents into a frenzy with false claims of “death panels” and “socialized medicine.” Massachusetts was a model of civilized cooperation that we seldom see on the national level.

Despite any rhetoric, both state and national reforms were middle-of-the road, more Nixon than Kennedy efforts – free market solutions (albeit a regulated free market) that candidates of either party could have proudly run on in any of the past ten Presidential elections. But that was before the Tea Party and its “take no prisoners” approach to both government and poltics.

It’s got to suck being Governor Romney. Right on the issue, wrong on the timing. One might say he’s the victim of “Mitt-igating” circumstances: a pressure that’s forcing Romney to sweep his greatest accomplishment as a governor under the rug.

The Tea Party’s anti-reform Koolaid has got to taste a little bitter.

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