During last night’s GOP presidential debate in Ames, Iowa, Mitt Romney (R) distinguished his signature 2006 health care reform law from the Affordable Care Act by arguing that as governor, he offered a “state solution” to a “state problem,” while President Obama’s Affordable Care Act imposed a one-size-fits all system on all 50 states. “We put a plan together that was right for Massachusetts,” Romney explained, “the president took the power of the people and the states away from them.”
But minutes later, he used the exact opposite argument to oppose same-sex marriage. When asked if states should have the right to enact marriage equality legislation, Romney responded that they should not, insisting that “marriage should be decided on the federal level” through a constitutional amendment that would deny gay and lesbian people the right to wed or raise children:
ROMNEY: You might wonder, why is that? Why wouldn’t you just let each state make their own decision? And the reason is, people move from state to state of course in a society like ours. They have children as they go to different states, if one state recognizes the marriage and the other does not, what’s the right of that child? What kind of divorce potential proceeding would there be in a state that didn’t recognize the marriage in the first place?
Romney’s rationale for a single, national definition of marriage could also apply to America’s fractured health care system, in which individuals become uninsured if they lose their jobs, move to a state in which their insurer does not operate or one in which they would no longer qualify for health care assistance. As a result, health care costs are shifted throughout the system — from state to state, ultimately increasing federal spending. In 2006, Romney himself recognized this inefficiency and repeatedly suggested that the federal government could adopt Massachusetts’ plan as a model for reforming the national system.
And so Romney is a tenther of convenience. In trying to obscure the fact that the Affordable Care Act was largely modeled off of his health care proposal, Romney berates a president for forcing states to conform to a single national law and argues that they should be free to enact their own reforms. But should a state like New York or Vermont or Massachusetts pass a marriage law with which Romney disagrees, he demands that it conform to his views of marriage and proposes a constitutional amendment that would overturn “the power of the people and the states.”