Romney and Obamacare: It could end badly

2012-09-10 09:03

New York - As you likely know, the margin of victory US in elections is usually pretty tight, and both parties try and court independent and undecided voters by pitching to the centre of the political spectrum.

This year's election, however, is not typical.

Americans are so fed up with their own government that enthusiasm could determine who wins – in other words, making sure your base actually gets up and goes to vote on 6 November could be the decisive aspect.

Mitt Romney has done this by really going all in with conservatism, even though his prior record would indicate he is actually had some moderate stances.

Outside usual Republican narratives Romney has used immigration and social issues to boost his conservative bona fides, along with picking conservative favourite Paul Ryan as his running mate.

But possibly the most significant issue with which Romney has gone after Obama is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which you most likely know as Obamacare.

Two major problems

Much like a Democrat presidential candidate can never be for privatising Social Security, a contemporary Republican presidential candidate must campaign against Obamacare and vow to repeal it (the anomaly of Romney having signed off on the blueprint for it as governor of Massachusetts notwithstanding), a requirement which Romney has fulfilled until his appearance on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.

He said, "I'm not getting rid of all of healthcare reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in healthcare reform that I'm going to put in place," adding "One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like."
There are two major problems with what Romney said.
Firstly, this is going to hurt him among his own supporters. Earlier this year some Republican congresspeople floated the idea of holding onto some aspects of Obamacare, and were shut down by powerful and popular lobby groups firmly and immediately.

Romney's chief spokesperson, Andrea Saul, indirectly endorsed Romney's healthcare plan in August and the right-wing press went nuts.

This is unlikely to play well amongst the right side of Romney's core electorate. It is one thing chasing independent and swing votes, but it cannot be done at the expense of your usual voters.


Obamacare is a dangerous manner in which to try and do this, because far right Republicans have asserted influence in this arena before – successfully.
Secondly, the economics of Obamacare require the mandate to buy health insurance – the most controversial aspect of the long and highly complicated plan.

Coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is expensive, which is why health insurance companies don't want to do it. 

Because Obamacare forbids insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, the individual mandate is the part of the plan that holds the rest up.

The business model under which insurance companies work means that healthy people who pay premiums but don't use services are actually where a large portion of revenue comes from – they are profitable customers.

If companies are forced to cover people who are already sick without jacking up premiums (also forbidden in the law), they need another stream of revenue. For someone who has staked his shot at the presidency on a successful career in the private sector, Romney should know them.
Team Romney made a strategic move to the centre – making such an announcement about a serious electoral point on a show with 2.7-million viewers is evidence of that. But this is surely not the best way to gain swing voters; disrespecting your core voters will never end well.