This afternoon, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) backed a state’s right to enact the individual health insurance mandate at a press conference endorsing Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, but argued that comparisons between Romneycare and Obamacare are “intellectually dishonest.” “Each governor should have an opportunity to make a decision about what works best for their states,” Christie explained. “But I would tell you this, any attempt to compare what happened in Massachusetts and what the President has done to the United States of America with his plan is completely intellectually dishonest”:
CHRISTIE: Governor Romney did not raise one tax in doing what he did to try to improve the health care system in Massachusetts. And I will tell you, that I’m proud of him for standing for doing what he thinks is right. That may not have been right for New Jersey, it may not be right for Montana, it may not be right for California. Those governors will make those decisions. But do not try to equate what’s happened with Obamacare with what Governor Romney did in Massachusetts. The President of the United States is raising taxes to pay for his plan he still won’t pay for. What Governor Romney did was what he thought was responsible as governor of Massachusetts for people to have access to health care.
Christie’s scolding comes on the same day NBC news reported that advisers and consultants to Romney’s health care plan met with President Obama to help craft the Affordable Care Act and are now advising state governments for how best to implement the law. Asked about the report at today’s press conference, Romney tried to dismiss it by claiming, “I don’t believe they were aides, they were people who were consultants.”
Neither man mentioned that the Massachusetts law is financed with federal funding and higher taxes on individuals who fail to purchase coverage and large businesses that didn’t offer insurance. Romney admitted as much during a March 7, 2010 interview on Fox News Sunday: “If they don’t buy insurance, they’ll find that their taxes are higher,” he said. “The employer mandate is pretty soft. An employer pays — I think it’s $295 a year if an employee doesn’t have insurance that they bought on their own or if they bought through the company.” The state also increased its cigarette tax and continued to rely on a safety net surcharge on insurers and hospitals.
“I’m sure the president got lots of ideas, but the one person he should have talked to, that he never talked to, was me,” Romney said today in response to his advisers being consulted. It’s an odd piece of criticism from a man who credits himself for making efficient business decisions. After all, even he can appreciate why the White House bypassed him to talk to the people who actually wrote his plan: the administration was interested in the policy mechanics of reform, not stories of how Romney built public support for the mandate in Massachusetts and spearhead the measure through the state legislature.
Christie’s criticism is also a condemnation of fellow Romney supporter Tim Pawlenty, who termed Romney’s reform Obamneycare while still seeking the party’s presidential nomination.