Mike Kueber's Blog

September 10, 2012

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan make news this Sunday

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:17 am
Tags: , , ,

Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan made some news this morning on the Sunday morning talk shows.  While on Meet the Press, Romney reaffirmed that he planned to replace ObamaCare with something better instead of merely repealing it and returning to the status quo.  His comments caused a stir, however, when he suggested that his replacement of ObamaCare would include coverage for pre-existing conditions and older children. 

The media has often pointed out that both of these provisions in ObamaCare are popular with most voters and repealing them would be problematic.  Thus, Romney’s support for them is not surprising.  What is surprising, however, is how Romney has developed positions that retain the provisions while remaining consistent with conservative principles.

With respect to pre-existing conditions, as pointed out by Sarah Kliff in Ezra Klein’s blog, Romney’s longstanding position is that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to move from one insurance company to another.  Such portability is already in effect with employee health insurance, and Romney is merely extending the practice to private health insurance.  Significantly, Romney’s proposal does not require insurance companies to provide insurance to uninsured individuals with pre-existing conditions, and he thereby avoids the need for the individual mandate in ObamaCare, which was developed to prevent individuals from going without insurance until they became sick or injured. 

Romney’s proposal appears willing to allow individuals the right to live without health insurance, and that is consistent with conservatives’ understanding of liberty.  Furthermore, a federal requirement on portability does not offend the Interstate Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Romney’s second endorsement of an ObamaCare provision involves its coverage for older children.  ObamaCare famously required that family health insurance extend to dependents up to the age of 27.  I haven’t seen any news reports on this comment, but I noted that during the Meet the Press interview that Romney referred to the free market.  According to an MSNBC transcript, he said – “… to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they may like.”  Thus, he seems to be suggesting that insurance companies would be able to charge extra premium for the extra coverage, which contrasts with the coverage under ObamaCare that often comes without an additional premium.  As with pre-existing conditions, Romney’s position is consistent with conservative sensibilities.

Paul Ryan’s comment on This Week with George Stephanopoulos that caused a stir resulted from a question about whether he agreed with all of the Republican presidential candidates who said during a debate that they would reject a budget compromise comprising ten parts of budget cuts and one part of tax increases.  Romney was one of those candidates who rejected the compromise, so it should have been automatic for Ryan to defend that position (even though the moderate middle ridicules it).  But he didn’t.  Instead Ryan attempted to articulate a nuanced position by declaring that the initial question, with its focus on proportionality, was flawed – “… it depends on the quality of the agreement.  It depends on the quality of the policy. … what really matters to me is not ratios — but what matters is the quality of the policy.”  This sort of elaboration is rarely helpful and should be avoided in the future. 

The New York Times noted today that, “A television interview with Mitt Romney seemed to mark the emergence of a less openly partisan, more general-election-oriented Republican nominee.”  Because I am hopeful that Romney will govern from the middle right, I believe this shift in tone is a good thing.

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