January 30, 2008

‘Universal’ Health Care ‘Terminated’? Yes, in California. But RomneyCare Is Alive in Massachusetts (and WE Are Paying for It)

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:10 pm

Okay, I get that California is our most populous state, the land of uber-liberalism, and deserving of a shot or two when it tries, and fortunately fails, to pass something dumb.

But if the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal is going to exult in the Golden State’s inability to enact a “universal” health-care plan, the least it could do is spend more than about 30 words on the one such plan that exists — especially when it was the brainchild of a GOP presidential candidate now pretending to be a conservative.

I am, of course, referring to Massachusetts, its former governor, Willard Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney, and the already-imploding Commonwealth Care aka RomneyCare.

I fully understand, as does the Journal, that the Cali failure is important. But even more important, the paper makes a direct correlation that Super Tuesday GOP voters simply must note:

The idea was that Mr. Schwarzenegger would set a national precedent, leading to a groundswell for reform in Washington. Not to mention that the Schwarzenegger plan was a near-copy of the one Mitt Romney pioneered in Massachusetts, and the one Hillary Clinton now favors.

….. Like collapses in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, this one crumpled because of the costs, which are always much higher than anticipated. The truth teller was state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who thought to ask about the price tag of a major new entitlement amid what’s already a $14.5 billion budget shortfall.

An independent analysis confirmed the plan would be far more expensive than proponents admitted. Even under the most favorable assumptions, spending would outpace revenue by $354 million after two years, and likely $3.9 billion or more. “A situation that I thought was bad,” Mr. Perata noted, “in fact was worse.”

This reveals that liberal health-care politics is increasingly the art of the impossible: You can’t make coverage “universal” while at the same time keeping costs in check — at least without prohibitive tax increases.

….. What the California collapse should discredit in particular is the individual mandate as a policy tool for Republican reformers. This was Mr. Romney’s enthusiasm for a time, helped along by the Heritage Foundation. But in order to be enforceable, such a mandate inevitably becomes a government mandate, and a very expensive one at that.

The last item I bolded has me banging my head. It’s as if Mitt Romney (and Heritage, for that matter) can walk away from and repudiate their “enthusiasm for a time,” and that’s okay.

No, it’s not.

Real people are living under the regime of Mitt Romney’s/Heritage’s “enthusiasm,” and it’s a fiscal nightmare (HT Jay Tea at Wizbang) in progress:

Spending on the state’s landmark health insurance initiative would rise by more than $400 million next year, representing one of the largest increases in the $28.2 billion state budget the governor proposed yesterday.

….. the long-term cost of the insurance initiative continues to concern policy makers and analysts, who are worried that it may become unaffordable.

“These increases are more than anticipated, so we absolutely have to find ways to hold down the rate of growth in future years,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded budget watchdog that has supported the initiative.

The state’s top budget official, Leslie Kirwan, said yesterday that projecting costs for the health insurance initiative is difficult because the state is in “uncharted territory.”

So Mr. Spreadsheet/Mr. Business Plan left the state he governed in “uncharted” territory. Naturally, he deserves a promotion to president of the whole country (/sarc).

Oh, and guess what? It would be even worse in the Bay State if it weren’t for the fact that taxpayers in the rest of the country are going to be fleeced to prop up Commonwealth Care:

State and federal taxpayers are expected to bear nearly all of the additional cost.

I guess this is businessman/leverage artist Mitt Romney’s idea of using Other People’s Money. And the fun part is that Massachusetts doesn’t have to pay the rest of the country back.

Thanks to the RomneyCare implosion, we’re already seeing single-payer advocates like the radical Robert Kuttner come out for having the government just take over the whole thing (HT again to Jay Tea):

When Lyndon Johnson devised Medicare in 1965, he didn’t order senior citizens to go out and buy private insurance, adequate and affordable or not, or be fined. Medicare covered everyone, bypassing the notoriously inefficient private insurance industry.

….. The Legislature, by building half a bridge, has set up one more perceived government failure.

Geez, “somebody” predicted that all of this would happen back in October (fourth item at link), even before I became aware of why Mitt is Objectively Unfit, and before I learned how many alleged conservative stalwarts had sold their souls to this hollow shell masquerading as a presidential candidate:

Let me be the first to say it: It’s becoming painfully clear (link requires subscription) that Mitt RomneyCare in Massachusetts is blowing up, and will get nothing but worse between now and November 2008. If he’s the nominee, he’ll be playing the same game Michael Dukakis played unsuccessfully in 1988 — covering up the Bay State’s disastrous financial situation. Except this time, the other party controls the Governor’s Office. Deval Patrick will gleefully point to the mess he has inherited, and will then tout HillaryCare II as the “better, more comprehensive” solution.

For this reason alone, I believe that Mitt Romney should NOT be the GOP nominee. Period.

Okay, it could be that BOOHOOcare (the health plan of Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama), and not HillaryCare, is the subject of the general election. The more important point is that I overestimated how long it would take for RomneyCare’s problems to become drop-dead obvious. But in a way that’s a good thing, because it’s just in time for GOP Super Tuesday voters to hopefully conclude that the real liberal with the failed liberal track record in the GOP nomination race is not the one just about everybody but yours truly is concentrating their fire on (not that he’s perfect either — he’s far, far from it).

Just once, I’d like to hear an alleged conservative talker, or even see a conservative publication, put RomneyCare under the microscope and expose it for the out-of-control, bordering-on-a-scam monster that it is.

Just yesterday, El Rushbo himself said (link expires in a week):

“Whenever I find liberalism and it seeks power, I’m going to oppose it.”

With all due respect, El Rushbo, when it comes to liberals like Mitt Romney, where the bleep have you been?

Romney should not be allowed to run away from his liberal record and his comprehensive, worse-than-Bob-Taft, legacy of failure. So why are Rush Limbaugh, the majority of his talk-show compadres, and quite a few conservative megabloggers and pundits who should know better, letting him do it?

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UPDATE: Here’s what McCain has to say about health care and health insurance. While not a model of clarity and coherence, it’s certainly not “universal” coverage.

I’m not linking to Romney’s site on this, because what he did is infinitely more important than what he says now (unless he’s offering an unconditional “I was wrong, I am sorry” — and even that would be yet another spectacular MittFlop that we’re supposed to buy into).

As to what McCain did, Democrats are outraged that “McCain voted against reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years, expanding the program by $35.2 billion.” That is, he was on the fiscally conservative, anti-incremental government takeover side on this issue, unlike, to name a few, Norm Coleman, Orrin Hatch, Kaye Bailey Hutchinson, Dick Lugar, and John Sununu.

UPDATE 2: Gregg Jackson just e-mailed and confirmed something I wasn’t sure of. While Mitt Romney is fond of saying how difficult it was to try to govern in a liberal state, the fact is that RomneyCare was an unforced error. No one was clamoring for it, and there was no citizen or legislative pressure to “do something.” The Mittster apparently felt that “universal” healthcare would be his signature accomplishment, and that referring to it would be a winning strategy in a presidential campaign. Uh, not exactly.

UPDATE 3: Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, because I just heard most of it, but not all of it. Just after 5, Sean Hannity read from the WSJ editorial referenced at the beginning of this post. He managed to mention the various states that have tried to pass something, but “somehow” avoided mentioning Massachusetts and Romney.

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4 Comments

  1. We still have a few of months to club Romney over RomneyCare before the convention in September. http://www.gopconvention.com/
    This will also be a potent weapon against the Dems as their Domestic Policy is going to revolve around health care. Played properly, using CA, MA, UK and Canada’s experiences, the public is not going to have any of nationalized or forced health care. In fact, this will be issue #1 with which the liberal Repub nominee will have at their disposal unless they flub it up as usual by getting caught up in the false pretense that we “have” to do something. Liberal Repubs are such suckers for this line, sometimes I dispare.

    Comment by dscott — January 30, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  2. Now Tom, why would they want to spoil Romney’s nomination bid? It appears someone wants some type of universal health care. Have you not noticed that the MSM and even Fox News have completely ignored the RomneyCare issue or is it my imagination?

    Comment by dscott — January 30, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

  3. #1 and #2, this is turning out to be an object lesson in how far you can progress in life with good hair.

    Comment by TBlumer — January 30, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

  4. [...] Tom Blumer of Bizzy Blog has more [...]

    Pingback by Pundit Review » Blog Archive » No Wonder Romney Discusses His Healthcare Plan… — January 31, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

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