The Obama White House shied away from making a public spectacle of the anniversary of the president's signature health care overhaul but is taking every opportunity it can today to remind voters that GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney pursued government-managed health care before Barack Obama.
Featuring interviews from advisers and advocates of both RomneyCare and ObamaCare, the Obama camp's latest attack on Romney paints him as an opportunistic politician who embraced Massachusetts health care reform as "a ticket to national fame and glory." The video ad also pokes at Romney as a sort of hypocrite for demanding the repeal of ObamaCare while simultaneously standing by his record in health care reform as governor:
This is an interesting strategy from the Obama camp. Given the unpopularity of ObamaCare these days, who would've guessed that President Obama's best defense would be, Well Romney did it first -- We were just following his lead! Way to show leadership, Mr. President.
The ad also tries to insinuate that RomneyCare and ObamaCare are fundamentally the same law. Although I'm no fan of RomneyCare, I have to defend Romney against this attack because it's a blatantly false claim. On the most basic level, RomneyCare maintains control of health care at a more local level and doesn't serve as a mandate over all 50 states as ObamaCare does. This might seem like a small difference to the Obama camp, but in terms of maintaining the status quo in respecting states' rights, it's a pretty big deal.
Also, the Obama camp has undoubtedly noticed that Romney isn't exactly going around the country bragging about his Massachusetts plan. In fact, Romney seldom mentions his plan on the campaign trail, and if pressed only responds that he is "proud" of what he accomplished as governor and criticizes how the Democratic administration that succeeded him irresponsibly handled the program's implementation. Indeed, Romney is most outspoken about changing federal tax laws to empower individuals to purchase health insurance outside of their employer, and on federal incentives for states to deregulate their insurance industries.
Romney has encouraged states to experiment with ways to improve health care, but has fallen well-short of offering his own state as a model. Why? Because it's been a pretty big failure. Despite having an "individual mandate" similar to ObamaCare, many Massachusetts residents have resisted purchasing their own health insurance, and many others have simply signed on for "free" coverage through the state, costing taxpayers billions. Speaking of costs, RomneyCare -- like ObamaCare -- has also come in way over budget.
The answer to controlling health care costs and increasing access to care is to give consumers more control over their health care spending while increasing competition in the health care marketplace. This comes not from mandates, subsidies or more government regulation. This is a lesson both Romney and Obama need to learn.