Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Romney Might Beat Obama

As Republicans lurch toward choosing a nominee, the President’s worst mistake of a tumultuous first term is waiting to emerge in the election—-his Pyrrhic victory on health care reform.

A new study shows that, more than any issue, it led to the 2110 Tea Party takeover of the House, costing Democrats “almost exactly the number of seats that decided the majority,” and even the furor now over Rush Limbaugh presages how large a role aspects of “Obamacare” will play in swaying voters this November.

In the conventional wisdom, Mitt Romney will have a hard time pressing the case against Barack Obama’s health care law, since it so closely resembles what he did in Massachusetts. Not necessarily so. Head to head, the GOP choice will argue that Democrats made a multi-thousand-page monster out of his relatively modest state bill and that he will scrap it.

What voters may remember most out of the fight to pass a law that many still don’t understand is how Obama, instead on analyzing the red-meat issue and formulating a comprehensible plan to deal with its major components, stepped back and tossed it into the Congressional boneyard where it could be shredded into self-interested scraps.

Instead of emphasizing how the current system threatened to bankrupt the middle class, he chose to reassure them that they could keep their current coverage while appealing to their sense of fairness in bringing 30 million uninsured into it, opening the way for Tea Party demagoguery about socialism.

Instead of recognizing that health insurer "cooperation" was a sham, the President naively embraced it only to find they would be back lobbying against reform at crunch time.

Instead of accepting the hard truth that cost containment was a complex tangle of provider greed and unbridled patient sense of entitlement, Obama persisted in hazy formulations about bending the cost curve.

Now, his Pyrrhic victory could turn into a classic tragedy in November, if he fails to persuade voters that the final result will improve their lives rather let the government control them.

In our sound-bite age, even a heavy-footed Romney starts with an edge in that debate.

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