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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Romney Camp Stuttering Terribly On Obamacare

Romney Camp Stuttering Terribly On Obamacare

Norm Coleman Says One Thing; Romney Says Another

By Dell Hill via Hot Air

“Former Senator Norm Coleman joined the Mitt Romney campaign in September, but hasn’t made an impact until now — and Romney may have wished he hadn’t.  In an interview Sunday for BioCentury, a health-industry roundtable forum, Coleman said that ObamaCare won’t ever be repealed “in its entirety,” and that “you can’t whole cloth throw it out.”  Truth telling, bad messaging, or both?

The Hill reported on this yesterday:

Mitt Romney adviser Norm Coleman, a former senator from Minnesota, predicted the GOP won’t repeal the Democrats’ healthcare reform law even if a Republican candidate defeats President Obama this November.

“You will not repeal the act in its entirety, but you will see major changes, particularly if there is a Republican president,” Coleman told BioCentury This Week television in an interview that aired on Sunday.  “You can’t whole-cloth throw it out. But you can substantially change what’s been done.”

Ben Domenech says this is significant, because Coleman might end up running HHS in a Romney administration:

There are a number of takeaways from this, but this is a meaningful takeaway in large part because Coleman remains on the short list for a cabinet position in the next administration, and he’s almost assured a position there if he wants it (perhaps even at HHS).
In other words, he’s not your average political pundit.

If Coleman is correct—and I think it’s possible he is—the next Republican president is likely to go through an experience along these lines: an attempt to repeal the whole bill will be made, passing the House but being filibustered in the Senate.  Reconciliation can only go so far, and in the wake of a Supreme Court decision knocking down the individual mandate, the right’s political push to repeal the whole of Obamacare is likely to become less pressing (ironically, the Court’s getting rid of the worst part of the law from the public’s perspective may undercut these efforts).  The Senate is likely to force instead a compromise position, in which Obamacare is “fixed,” not repealed – made “more market friendly”, as Coleman suggests.

This may be a good end result for many of the stakeholders and the politicians involved.  As for the American people, well, that’s a different story.

Erick Erickson says this would be the end of the GOP:

In fact, the entrenched legislative bureaucracy has a great deal to do with congressional disapproval in the public.  Republican staffers want to inch the ball down the field instead of fighting.  Democrat staffers are far more aggressive.

If a Republican gets into the White House and does not sweat blood trying to repeal Obamacare in its entirety (regardless of success), I predict the end of the Republican Party legitimately.  It won’t be worth fighting for if the party itself does not think it worth fighting for its voters.  If the GOP takes back the White House, it’s voters will expect a real fight, not a half-hearted attempt.

I’d say that this is an uncharacteristic stumble for a very smart man, perhaps feeling pressure to be “reasonable” in this forum.  Coleman clearly lays out the problems with ObamaCare, but acknowledges that the health-care sector needs some kind of reform, and prefers it to be market-based.  So far, so good.  However, even if that market-based reform involves elements of the PPACA, why not just say we can repeal the whole ObamaCare structure and start from scratch, keeping an open mind to some elements within the PPACA as we do?  That sounds a lot better than “you can’t whole cloth throw it out,” especially when the candidate for whom Coleman consults is saying that he wants exactly that.

I’d call this bad messaging, and Romney should address it sooner rather than later if he wants to defuse it before Thursday’s debate.

Update: The Romney campaign responded that while the candidate respects Coleman, he disagrees with this assessment.”

Dell’s Bottom Line:

Can you believe this?  While Mitt Romney is trying his damnedest to convince us he’s a conservative, his own, high-powered spokesman strongly suggests he’s not.  The candidate himself has got to step up to the microphones and straighten this out.  Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Maybe the Romney and Gingrich camps need to just STFU for a week and decide, privately, what they’re all going to say over the course of the next several months.  What were hearing now is just so totally wrong it’s difficult to take either candidate seriously.

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