Opinion Brief

Do newly leaked emails discredit Romney's ObamaCare attacks?

Old emails acquired by The Wall Street Journal suggest that Mitt Romney was a committed champion of mandatory health insurance when he was Massachusetts governor

These days, Mitt Romney is promising to demolish ObamaCare, but back when he was governor of Massachusetts, he aggressively defended the individual mandate to buy health insurance, which is the core of President Obama's health reform law, according to circa-2006 Romney emails acquired by The Wall Street Journal. The messages show that he actively pushed through his state's health-care reform law, and once boasted that it would allow hundreds of thousands of people in his state to "have healthier and happier lives." Will this undermine his attempts to win over anti-ObamaCare voters in November?

This is enough to scare opponents of the mandate silly: It's not just that Romney "worked so hard to pass his controversial health-care law," says Mollie Hemingway at Ricochet. He apparently used tactics, such as the public shaming of companies that didn't provide enough health insurance, "that even Barack Obama might find heavy handed." Romney is telling liberty-loving voters to have faith that he'll crush ObamaCare, "but this slow drip of scary information is not helping."
"Romney personally advocated for individual mandate"

Romney and Obama both flip-flopped: It wouldn't be a big deal if Romney had simply changed his mind, says Patrick Caldwell at The American Prospect. President Obama did the same thing — remember, he was the anti-mandate candidate in his 2008 primary battle against Hillary Clinton. The shocking thing about Romney's position is that he still says the mandate was right for Massachusetts, but he somehow thinks the same policy "would be a disastrous assault on freedom at the national level." Huh?
"Inconsistent mandate"

It makes you wonder if Romney truly opposes ObamaCare: This fits a troubling pattern, says Peter Suderman at Reason. Just before the emails surfaced, Romney appointed Michael Levitt, a consultant who has spent months urging states to set up health insurance exchanges as called for by ObamaCare, to head his transition team. Taken together, it's enough to make anti-ObamaCare voters wonder whether Romney is really vehemently opposed to the law, or just telling them what they want to hear.
"Romney defended the Massachusetts mandate, appoints ObamaCare profiteer as campaign adviser"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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