Turn your head and cough: President Barack Obama's re-election campaign on Thursday marked the sixth anniversary of Mitt Romney's health care overhaul in Massachusetts with an online ad touting it as the inspiration for Obamacare. Never mind that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has vowed to kill Obamacare on "day one" if he wins the White House.
The three-minute spot aims to blunt Romney's attacks on Obama's signature domestic policy achievement as well as paint him as a hypocrite or a flip-flopper. It could serve to remind conservatives who loathe Obamacare's requirement that Americans have insurance (or pay a penalty) that the so-called "individual mandate" is also at the heart of a Republican-authored health reform.
Romney has repeatedly countered that there is no contradiction in his stance: He is proud of his achievement in the state of Massachusetts but believes that a one-size-fits-all federal version is the wrong path for the country. (See here at about 6:28 for a sample of this argument.)
A promise to repeal Obamacare was a staple applause line from candidates during the Republican primary. And a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the mandate, which could come in June, is expected to fuel, not smother, the angry national debate no matter how the justices come down.
So this is a birthday celebration that will likely last longer than Republican House Speaker John Boehner's famous-in-D.C. "Boehner Birthday Song."
The new video showcases John McDonough, labeled "Architect and Advocate for both 'Romneycare' & 'Obamacare,'" who says that Romney viewed the 2006 law as "his ticket to national fame and glory." McDonough was a key official with Health Care for All, a Massachusetts consumer health advocacy group, when Romney's law passed, and is now a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
And it features MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber, labeled "Health Consultant to both Romney & Obama Administrations," who says he helped develop Romney's overhaul and then went to Washington to help the president "develop his national version of that law."
The video wraps up with an emotional appeal from Madelyn Rhenisch, the first Massachusetts resident to enroll in Romneycare, who basically argues that Romney has forgotten those helped by his reforms.
"President Obama was wrong to impose a one-size-fits-all plan for the nation on health care. Obamacare is bad policy and it's bad law," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul countered Thursday. "What is important is that states should be free to pursue their own solutions, and we look forward to celebrating the day Obamacare is overturned and that power is returned to the states."
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