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. drake mallard

    How come Politician complain about obama health care when taxpayers are paying for there family socialized medicine?

    July 1, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. hopeismyname

    I also have a bit of trouble figuring out how Jindal can use the party of Mardi Gras being a "Louisiana thing that wouldn't work in New Hampshire" as being anywhere equivalent to health care reform......Snow boarding competitions wouldn't work so well in New Orleans now would they....no one is trying to make a party become a national standard so I think the comparison is a bit ridiculous

    July 1, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. dreucalypt

    McConnell really doesn't have Romney's back on this. That's what "he will have to speak for himself" means. He knows, and everyone knows, that had Romney won in 2008 he would have pushed for a national health care plan almost identical to the one President Obama did push for.

    July 1, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. hopeismyname

    I also don't understand how Mardi Gras and Health care reform have anything to do with one another....perhaps Gov Jindal is afraid that New York will force his state to support snow boarding next??? Apples to oranges...this time apples to cinder blocks...no correlation what so ever.

    July 1, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Romney is not real !

    He's a money making cyborg robot .

    "Danger, Will Robinson!"

    July 1, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Dave

    Vote Ron Paul. It's time to Quarantine the system. Cuppupt beyond belief!

    July 1, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. beau

    So the Republicans are going to settle on an east coast, elite, millionaire from an aristocratic family? What is his experience that will make him a successful Conservative President?
    1. He fires people, lays off employees, and outsources jobs while pocketing the pension funds of those same employees.
    2. He is comfortable in an upper class setting. After all, America IS the upper class, isn't it? The little people, like you and I, are not really very important. People of Romney's class and background see us as livestock that can understand English.
    3. He does not care if Americans suffer. He has made lots of them suffer so far in his life. He's made of tough stuff. No weepy compassion will ever cloud his judgment.
    4. He knows how to destroy corporations and sell off their assets. He could use those skills to destroy the federal government, a stated goal of Conservatism
    5. After the Romney Administration is over in 2016 or 2018, Conservatives will say, "Hey, you can't blame us for the disastrous Romney Administration. He wasn't a TRUE Conservative. What we need is a TRUE Conservative like Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum … or maybe govornor Palin."

    July 1, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Myviewis

    Bottom line the president of the United States, President Obama ( part-time professor, community organizer, author, junior senator with no academics in accounting, finance, economics, financial economics, mathematics, management ) could not come up with his own healthcare plan so he had to copy the one created by a governor and this is the same governor that Obama claims is not suited to be president of the United States. Oh yes I forgot, Obama made changes to Romneycare. So why is Obama bragging of his healthcare plan when he didn’t come up with it, he just changed someone else’s work????

    July 1, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. Donna

    I understand how Mitt Romney can compare the difference between the healthcare plan he created when he was govern, to that that was created by the Democrats. There are only about 6.5 million people in Massachusetts, and yet we have over 3 hundred million people in the US. Massachusetts is a small state compared to that of many others, his health plan they were able to regulate the system, easier to budget. If the country is having a hard time controlling the systems with so many issues, such as illegals added into the mix, how do they plan to enact this policy without severe negative results to the economy?

    July 1, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. PaulC

    If the repugs are so opposed to the health care plan then I propose they repeal and reject the very generous taxpayer paid healthcare they enjoy. No? Didn't think so......

    July 1, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Rupert Murdoch = Josef Goebbels

    Bobby Jindal says, "Mardi Gras works great in Louisiana, ...may not work in Vermont."

    What's next? Perhaps "Miranda works great in Arizona, but maybe not so well in Louisiana." Or "anti-slavery laws may work great for you yankees, but they're screwing us up down here in Louisiana." Or "your damn child labor laws, minimum wage laws, overtime laws, occupational health and safety laws, and environmental protection laws might work great in New York, but not here in Louisiana." Or " your damn public education, medicare, social security, and welfare might work great in Maryland, but you're ruining everything down here in Louisiana!"

    Yes Boener, the states are, indeed, laboratories of democracy. Please feel free to experiment in ways to continue to make things better for each and every American, rather than just the wealthy. Demonstrate another plan that is more effective at providing the cheapest cost, the best care, with the most universal coverage, and we'll be happy to adopt it.

    Romneycare (in MA) has been a step in the right direction. It's a good place to start in hypothesizing even better models. Obamacare is our starting point. We have 50 laboratories to tweak it. Now go, and make it even better!

    July 1, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. DAN 'N EDDIE D.

    I'm really surprised that no one has taken a shot at him yet....

    July 1, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. Sam

    If the health care law is only good for Massachusetts, and Mr. Rommey says it would be a good model for the nation... Why not be happy with the SCOTUS ruling? Something don't seem right here...

    July 1, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. Pete

    Republicans are great at skrting around issues,especially this ACA bills mandates,the same as their candidates while governor of Massachusetts.The taxed will be ultimitly the ones who can and won't buy into the insurance plans,the ones who can't afford it will get something similar to Medicaid at a reduced or free rate based on their yearly income,not what FOX extreme news scares people with,no death panels aka Palins lies...After people start using these insurance plans they'll realize its proven effectiveness in bringing down the countries overall insurance rates something republicans are so much against being the ones in the insurance corporation lobbyist pockets.Republicans,the ones against this plan are hardly anyone to talk, being the ones who already are insured by the governments own healthcare plan,theirs free of course!!You ignorent republicans,the ones not presently insured are going against a bill that you'd actually benefit from and are totally clueless listening to the anti ACA insurance propaganda that these unpatriotic extremist keep brainwashing you with,they knowing well if you do get it you'll most notively be happier just knowing now you have a policy much similar to your representatives on Capital Hill...Republicans,get this straight your representatives have nevered cared about you,only your vote,you've nevered benefitted by them,you never will.They're only there for their corporate masters and do for them whatever it takes to keep them profittable and above the fray tax wise,that's always been their motive,why change it now,you're just much more ignorent that's all,like deers caught in the cars headlights not knowing what's behind them,that's stupidity beyond the norm!!!

    July 1, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  15. Larry L

    It's always tough to tell a blatant lie. It works with the crowd getting all of their information from Fox News – they clearly don't want to hear the truth and will believe anything that supports the desired outcome. But what about independents and those from the "blue states"? How do you make them disregard all logic and believe Romney's lie?

    July 1, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. jack johnson

    The supreme court knew it would pass so they changed the penalty to a tax to use against Obama!

    July 1, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. DENNA

    So Mitt will repeal and replace Obamacare, right? What's he going to replace it with – ROMNEYCARE? Mittens, you can't run away from this. If you don't like Obamacare, then if you become president simply repeal ROMNEYCARE and boom! It all goes away.

    July 1, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  18. Dean

    Wonder when the republicans will also realize that Romney supports alternative marriage (Mormon)?

    July 1, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe Say_Nothing -Do_Nothing_Flip_n_Flopper VULTURE CAPITALIST

    Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe Say is the best spokesman for OBAMACARE – "You've got to have health insurance, because we want everybody in the system. No more free riders."

    Etch-A-Sketch Mitt can't run away from this baby. He owns OBAMACARE which was formerly ROMNEYCARE, and it's now ROBERTSCARE!!!!

    July 1, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. carrotroot

    The GOP's attacks against ACA are a double-edged sword since they will also hurt their candidate Mitt Romney.

    July 1, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Jaded

    Romney can't run away from his past. He implemented Romneycare in Massachusetts which is the same model for Obamacare. The only difference between the two healthcare acts, is whom their named after. And, now Romney wants to disown his own crowning achievement.

    July 1, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. SafeJourney

    President Obamacares, Republicans dont, (unless you are their wealthy friends)

    July 1, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. Painter Dude

    I just love the way the Republicans have grabbed a hold of those two words...It's a Tax! It's a Tax! Speaking of Taxes, stop wasting mine and my time on this argument, you lost, twice, now move on. Where are the jobs you promised? What exactly are the "job creators" doing with the money they got from the Tax breaks you cried about till they got them? All of you, Democrats and Republicans, do something besides point your fingers at each other and have little tantrums, you are supposed to be working together to fix the country. If you cant do it, dont blame it on the other guy, just pack up and leave so someone else can come in and give it a try.

    July 1, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. Vance

    HUH? Really? These guys are talking in circles. Do they really think we are stupid? Unreal

    July 1, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. NFL

    How can anyone trust Romney's words or beliefs? They should pay attention to his DEEDS, what has he DONE? He professed to be more liberal than Kennedy if elected to the Senate...he supported LGBT rights, and more...now that it's a different election...how can Republicans, who Spearheaded the swift-boat of flip flops against Kerry...support and fight for Romney with the same and bigger flip flops??

    July 1, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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