On Friday night’s Larry King show, Martha Zoller and I sparred with lefty Ed Schultz and radical Rhandi Rhodes over the issues of the day. Here’s one exchange on health care of particular interest today:
CALLER: And I would also like to ask the panel if what they thought if this administration or the president, if they’re going to make any headway on the whole health care issue, as I’m one of the many that don’t have it.
SCHULTZ: Do you want me to — Larry, this is the number one issue on the minds of all Americans on both sides of the political aisle across the country right now. You cannot expect families to absorb year after year double-digit increases, and the number of people that don’t have any health insurance. And the conservatives are sitting there saying, go get a savings account. What! Come on, give me a break….
KING: What do you think?
HEWITT: I think people should look at the states. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has come up with a very, very innovative plan that says to those who are 30 and 40 years old, who are just not buying health insurance because they don’t need it, they figure they’ll get it later when they get it, you’re going to pay in. At the state level, like Massachusetts and the Romney plan, there are many innovative solutions. What we don’t need is Canadian health care. What we don’t need is what Ed wants….
The Romney plan I referred to on Friday night became law yesterday, and with its passage, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney got a huge boost in his campaign for the presidency.
While Majority Leader Frist, and Senators Allen and McCain are locked in a bloody intra-party battle over illegal immigration, Romney produces an innovative solution –at the state level– that avoids the worst of Hillarycare and yet moves towards the goal of coverage for all Americans on an equitable basis. Front page coverage in the Washington Post and the New York Times telegraphs the new legislation’s importance.
While the plan does impose fees on employers not providing health insurance, it also demands performance from health care providers and begins to address the “free rider” problem in health care.
From a political perspective, it gives Governor Romney a huge advantage heading into 2008, one which all candidates covet: An actual example of concrete achievement that voters will connect to their own lives.
There is no doubt in my mind that the pundits are going to grow very tired of hearing Mitt Romney talk about the “Romney plan which he pushed through a blue state legislature, which extends coverage and controls costs while increasing the quality of health care throughout Massachusetts,” but it is a significant achievement for a Republican governor in a very liberal state.
And the other would-be successors to W have got to have noticed that when it comes to deliverables, the Romney campaign just took a big jump forward.
Meanwhile, John McCain is teamed with Teddy while also blocking Bush nominees to the federal bench.
Quite a contrast.
Yes, Maggie, a home run.