Mitt’s Mistake: ObamaCare Is Not ‘Waivable’

Mitt Romney may have waived goodbye to the GOP nomination with his
assertion that he could start unraveling ObamaCare by issuing an
executive order as soon as he moved into the White House.

“If I were president,” Romney wrote on the website of the
conservative magazine National Review, “on Day One I would issue an
executive order paving the way for ObamaCare waivers to all 50 states.”

Simply put, executive orders cannot contradict statutory law.
Waivers are not a solution and might well detract from the ultimate
goal of repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with a truly free market
alternative that puts patients — not bureaucrats — in charge of their
health care.

He continued: “The executive order would direct the secretary of
Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return
the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design
health care solutions that work best for them.”

As a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Business School and as the
Republican governor who convinced the Democratic Massachusetts
legislature to pass RomneyCare, he surely knows a president can’t use
an executive order to wipe out two massive new entitlement programs,
$550 billion in new and higher taxes, vast Medicaid expansion, and
mandates on individuals, businesses and the states to comply with
President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Free Market Solution?

Romney pledges to pursue the ultimate goal of repealing ObamaCare
and replacing it with “free-market reforms that promote competition and
lower health care costs. But since an outright repeal would take time,
an executive order is the first step in returning power to the states.”

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be.

Romney’s cautious step-by-step approach overlooks the fact that the
Republican House passed a repeal bill within a few weeks of taking
power.

If there were a majority in the Senate supporting repeal, a new
president could have a bill to sign on his desk within a month or two
of taking office.

Why on earth would a President Romney want to send states on a wild
chase to implement ObamaCare in a different way when, as he himself
observes, the ultimate goal must be total repeal?

The posting — aimed at bolstering Romney’s standing with
conservative voters — was made on the first anniversary of Obama’s
signing the so-called Affordable Health Care Act into law, and it drew
scant attention in the mainstream media.

But it spotlights a major vulnerability Romney would face as the GOP candidate in 2012.

He still is trying to defend his indefensible position that
RomneyCare was right for Massachusetts but that he wouldn’t impose it
on the rest of the country.

This latest statement is an example of how difficult it seems for
him to reconcile his defense of RomneyCare and his oft-stated scorn for
ObamaCare.

Indeed, many Democratic supporters of ObamaCare delightedly are
pointing out that much of the new federal health law was modeled on
RomneyCare — a fact that’s clear and one on which Obama has shown a
rare willingness to share credit.

How does Romney’s new solution remedying ObamaCare through waivers differ from Obama’s position?

It doesn’t. The president said recently he would be happy to grant
waivers to any states that wanted to go about putting health care under
government control in a different way.

Romney’s plan to issue an executive order is merely a derivative of the president’s position.

Voters in next year’s general election would see little daylight
between Romney’s approach to health changes and the president’s. If
Romney were to get the Republican presidential nomination, ObamaCare
would very likely collapse as an issue.

And it would be much more difficult to undo this legislation that
would turn citizens into subjects and turn states into contractors of a
vastly more powerful federal government.

This is a debate Republican primary voters must have now. Sadly,
Romney still seems to have a tough time grasping its central importance.

With the primary debates a few short weeks away, he’ll find out
quickly enough that Republicans are seeking a presidential candidate
whose principles stand in bold contrast to those of President Obama,
rather than echo them.

Published on Investor’s Business Daily, April 2, 2011.

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