Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had a very uncomfortable interview with Larry King last night, in which he again struggled to explain how the Senate health care bill was different from the legislation he signed into law in 2006. Romney described majority rule as an “unconscionable abuse of power,” referred to insurance regulations as “maraschino cherries on top of a pile of dirt” and failed to come up with a convincing answer about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
In the end, Larry King looked like Tim Russert, while Romney seemed desperate to shore up his conservative credentials and defend his Obama-like accomplishment:
Watch a compilation:
The Washington Posts’ Greg Sargent notes Romney’s strong endorsement of the individual mandate, but it’s also worth pointing out that he still can’t decide if the mandate is constitutional. His position is difficult to define:
1. He signed a law that requires everyone in Massachusetts to purchase health care coverage and regularly cites the states 98% insurance rate during media appearances. In this interview, he describes the approach as “conservative.”
2. He believes that the 13 states suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the individual mandate have a legitimate case and wants to repeal the Senate bill, which includes the mandate.
In other words, he believes that requiring all Massachusetts residents to purchase coverage is “conservative” since it tells people they “have to take personal responsibility” for their health rather than “go to the hospital if they get a serious illness, and they get treated for free by government.” But requiring all Americans to purchase coverage, however, is intrusive and probably unconstitutional. Got that?