Republicans cautious on Romney's role in Obamacare
July 1st, 2012
01:06 PM ET
2 years ago

Republicans cautious on Romney's role in Obamacare

(CNN) – Republicans wouldn't say definitively on Sunday whether presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney was facing a problem with voters skeptical about his health care law in Massachusetts, which bears resemblance to President Barack Obama's measure.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the U.S. Senate, said simply that Romney would "have to speak for himself" when it comes to the Massachusetts law, which members of Obama's administration have said was the model for their own legislation.

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McConnell made a point of referring to Obama's penalty for people who do not obtain health insurance as a "tax," a term made possible by the Thursday Supreme Court decision to uphold the mandate under Congress' power to levy taxes.

"I can tell you that every single Democratic senator voted for this tax increase," McConnell said on "Fox News Sunday."

The tax penalty in the president's health care law, which will be administered through the Internal Revenue Service, is similar to a provision in the reform plan passed in Massachusetts under then-Gov. Mitt Romney.

In a 2009 interview with CNN, Romney explained how the Massachusetts health care mandate worked. If a state resident decided to forgo health insurance when he or she could afford it, Romney said, that person would face the loss of a tax exemption. In other words, he or she would be assessed a tax penalty.

"There are a number of ways to encourage people to get insurance and what we did, we said: 'You're going to lose a tax exemption if you don't have insurance,'" Romney told CNN in the interview.
The former Massachusetts governor said the mandate was necessary to achieve universal coverage in the state.

In order to qualify for the tax exemption, Romney added, "You've got to have health insurance, because we want everybody in the system. No more free riders."

During the interview Romney held up his health care law as a model that "could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans."

Since then, Romney has said repeatedly his plan was meant for Massachusetts only.

On Sunday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal backed Romney's point, saying the GOP presidential candidate had always been opposed to a national mandate.

"Look, states are different," Jindal said. "The Founding Fathers intended states to be a laboratory of experimentation. I come from one of the most distinct cultural states in the entire country. Mardi Gras is great for Louisiana - may not work as well in Vermont and other states. The idea is, what works in Massachusetts may not work in another state."

Republican House Speaker John Boehner made a similar argument, saying Romney's law was "an issue that was in Massachusetts."

"One state. That's why we have 50 different states. They're laboratories of democracy," Boehner said.

Boehner wouldn't say, however, if Romney was facing a credibility problem with voters who regard his Massachusetts law as the same as Obama's federal law.

Instead, Boehner reiterated that Romney was just as committed to repealing Obama's health care law as any Republican.

"Gov. Romney, just like all the rest of us Republicans in Washington, are going to work to repeal Obamacare, and our resolve is stronger than ever with the passage, or the approval of the Supreme Court."

CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Bobby Jindal • Health care • John Boehner • Mitch McConnell • Mitt Romney
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. rakez

    some resemblance? romney invented obamacare.

    July 1, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Now Boehner thins that Romneycare in MA represents only one state, and he points out there are 50 states. So now does the think we need 50 different armies, 50 different navies, 50 different social securities, 50 different medicares, 50 different immigration policies, 50 different national constitutions, 50 different civil rights legislations?

    July 1, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens has to be a contortionist to represent and justify the different sides he has taken on foreign policy, immigration, healthcare, taxes, job creation, the death penalty, the poor, the middle class. He is a true plutocrat.

    July 1, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Rob m

    How the heck can one compare universal health care to maradi gras? Are you serious Jindal? That has to the craziest analogy I have heard as to why the 50 states are different and need to stay that way.

    July 1, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Orwell sees it, again & again

    Republicans, it is time.
    On your knees and kiss the bishop's ring.
    He is one of you, suck it up, you know the drill.

    July 1, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Sooner79

    During the interview Romney held up his health care law as a model that "could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans." Yes it was a good model that Congress passed and the President signed into law. We didn't change our mind Gov. Romney, you did.

    July 1, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. sjlucas

    States are different? That's a laughable claim when it comes to providing basic services like health care. Is Gov. Jindall suggesting that residents of Louisiana don't deserve the same right to quality, affordable health care as the people of Massachusetts (or other states for that matter)? The GOP needs to move along. This is not going to be the hot button issue they hoped for. The Supreme Court proved that the GOP right and the Tea Party loonies claims of constitutionality are delusional, and Romney supported universal health care as a governor (and I suspect he still does today but denies it because he knows is was the only way he could secure the GOP nomination ... sad that a moderate can't be successful in today's GOP).

    Let me say this about Gov. Jindall's claim that he will not enforce the new health care law ... I say great. You can refuse to implement the law BUT you choose to allow you state to lose all federal funding for related services. The savings can then be used to reduce the deficit. These idiots who believe they are smarter than everybody else and above the law are not.

    July 1, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Pander Bear

    i said a flip flop the flippie the flippie to the flip flip flop, a you don't stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat

    – Mitty's Delight

    July 1, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. John Sullivan

    Has any member of your family ever served in a U.S. Military Serrvice?

    July 1, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. anotherGDlefty

    Purple nurple time for Mittens.

    His role?
    Succesfully implementing and it's paying for itself in MA....that role?

    Now he has to somehow convince the mouth breathers in his party that it's somehow a failure.

    July 1, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. bettyboop33

    "On Sunday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal backed Romney's point, saying the GOP presidential candidate had always been opposed to a national mandate"....hmmm is that why Jindal calls ACA Omaneycare??? ROFL....he has about as much credibility as flipflopper Mittens.

    July 1, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. frag

    I'm sick of this freeloader, who takes from the society that makes him rich, but refuse to pay anything back except to his club! Tax returns please! Romney: "Get the best education you can afford"! What? OK, let's think about this. Romney gives a million dollars, tax free, to the Mormon Church, which in turn subsidizes Brigham Young University, with 98% Mormon student body. Guess who paid for their education, the education they could otherwise not afford? You and I! We got none of the tax money! Do you think that is fair or right? I don't.

    July 1, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Joan

    All politicians change positions from time to time but Mitt Romney's complete 180 degrees turn from his own signature health care plan is the most blatant and hypocritical flip-flop of all time. He proudly passed his Romney Care health plan, touted the individual mandate and stated it would work well for the country. That is all well documented and you can be sure there will be tons of Democratic ads playing his own remarks. They can also replay many of the criticisms from Romney's opponents during the Republican primary. Now he is trying to completely back track and pretend something totally different. You need to be able to trust what your leader says. Along with his fudging on the immigration issue, this all makes Romney look as if he doesn't really know what he stands for. He is definitely not looking like a very strong presidential candidate. Also, when the Republicans campaign against the president's health care plan, they are technically campaigning against the signature accomplishment of their own candidate when he was a governor. Very, very strange.

    July 1, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Dick

    Come on Jindal. Comparing Mardi Gras to health care reform. Really? And let's not forget Marco Rubio who when asked what was different between Romney's healtcare plan is Mass and the Affordable Health Care act, his brilliant response was, " in Mass. if they don't like it, they can leave." Again, really. Can any of these repubs actually provide an actual answer to a pertinent question?

    July 1, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Winning

    Romney added, "You've got to have health insurance, because we want everybody in the system. No more free riders."

    During the interview Romney held up his health care law as a model that "could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans."

    July 1, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. Keef

    "Laboratories for democracy," from both Jindal and Bonehead, huh? Wow, what a coincidental choice of words.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think we're hearing bits of a "script" here?

    July 1, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    "Cautious"? Give me a break! Repubs HATE the FACT that Obamacare was modeled after Romneycare – and that the idea of a mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance was originally proposed by REPUBLICANS IN 1993!

    Then-Senator Chaffee introduced it to the Senate, with 20 Repub backers. The idea was initially thought up by the Heritage Foundation, for Pete's sake!

    Folks like Gingrich thought it was the only way to go, because it made people take personal responsibility and have some skin in the game!

    You knows, Repubs, just because your base are a bunch of scared ignoramuses doesn't mean the rest of us are!

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice.

    July 1, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. 40 acres

    The Republicans can yell tax all they want. Anyone with a brain will understand that it is just asking those who would prefer to let me deal with their ER costs pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.......I thought Republicans liked that idea. I guess not.

    July 1, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. James

    Republicans, and Romney, most of all, flip flop on policies to say what they think would best get people to vote for them rather than work towards what is best for the country. This is very obvious when you consider that even before Obama took office, they were saying that their main goal is to make him a one-term president. They will not fool the majority in November as the debates will expose Romney for what he is, a person who believes in profit over people, a person who will say and do anything to get what he wants.

    July 1, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. Michael

    Repuglican hypocrisy is at an all time high in America! Mitt signs into law a healthcare mandate, now he say it's unconstitutional and demands repeal of a Healthcare plan he was the "father" of and similarly implemented in massachusetts! Repuglican spin machine wants this to a non-issue, like the, evaporation of 5 trillion surplus, -8.9 GDP, 11 trillion national debt, 1.3 trillion deficit, 2.8 trillion in tax cuts (unpaid for)2 Wars (unpaid for), Medicare prescriptiontion plan (unpaid for), 3 trillion brorrowed from China,a Wall Street, Banking, Auto, Mortgage crisises, losing over 800,000 jobs monthly and a economy on the brink of depression when President Obama took office! Repuglican spin is that this economy belongs to Obama! Well, when this country is out of the recession started under George Bush, I will agree! Until then, President Obama is still cleaning up repuglican mess of 6 years total control and 8 years Presidential control, whose policies and spending hit our economic structure, like the iceberg that struck the Titantic! Now, these same repuglican "Talking Heads" who sponsored, voted and defended these diseastrous policies, want the "Keys" back too the car, because its been fixed up and is in running condition, "not perfect" just good enough so they can finish what they started! Well, I will not let the American people forget what they took 8 years to do, to this country! Just as Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett shouted "remember the Alamo" in Texas, I now shout "Remember what those eight years under George Bush and Repulican policies did to this country!" If President Obama had taken over with a economy, like what Clinton left Bush, Bush's economy would not even be applicable to the conversation! Out of 14 recessions including the Great Depression, 13 were started under a repuglican President, a democrat had to clean up the mess!

    July 1, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  21. vic , nashville ,tn

    “GOP presidential candidate had always been opposed to a national mandate”. Jindal

    So Romney is not presidential candidate, in 2007 2008 and early 2009 Romney was advocating national mandate. After tea party revolution Mitt withdrew the support

    Rick Santorum predicted this , south (TN,SC,AL,GA MS) we didn’t vote for Romney we knew its coming

    July 1, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. Peter

    Thanks, John.

    Can't wait to have Romney elected and go back to pre-existing condition restrictions and my 22 year old daughter in college trying to come up with $600 a month for personal insurance coverage.

    July 1, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Darryl

    I have watched every Sunday morning T.V. program and everyone of the Republicans that were on never answered a question with a direct reply period.They dodged every question and just said that they would repeal the whole Health Care Bill period.Then went on to say they would discuss parts of it and have a balanced discussion on it.When asked about a specific part of it or any specific part of it, they would NOT answer it period. They are decieveing and very dishonest and thats really bad.They are right about 1 thing ! This election is the most important election in our History. And The President has been saying that to, all along. If the Republicans get back control of the W/H with Mitt Romney they will destroy and dismantel everything he has done and the rich will get richer the poor will get poorer and the middle class will NEVER be able to grow.And the working class and the poor will be stuch with the Bill from the 2 wars and Health Care will be for only people with allot of money who can afford the Insurance period!

    July 1, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Andy

    back pedal back pedal...cant dig yourself out of this one Mitt!!

    July 1, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. hopeismyname

    Boehner and Jindal (both GOP) say that the states are "laboratories of democracy"....new one to me but that's fine....if Mass. Gov Romney came up with a health insurance plan and he was a pioneer of a laboratory then that means he intended for it to be used for bigger purposes. Labs don't invent cures and antidotes for things just to be used in their labs...Get this guys...we cured cancer but gee we'll only cure it here in our lab....????????? Labs are intended for experimentation and if the experiment works or improves things then the experiment is used on a larger scale. Romney tried it,it worked okay (from what I hear) so now it's time to try it on a larger scale. Romney should be proud.

    July 1, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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