In 2006, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) committed the unforgivable sin of signing a wildly successful health reform law that provided health insurance to nearly every Massachusetts resident while simultaneously slashing individual insurance premiums by 40 percent. As penance, the Republican primary electorate forced him to travel the country proclaiming his undying belief that the 10th Amendment prevents the Obama Administration from achieving the same triumphant success Romney achieved in Massachusetts.
It’s clear, however, that Romney’s new love affair with tentherism is little more than a marriage of convenience. In response to a question about whether he would support an anti-union “right to work” law at the federal level, Romney twisted himself into a pretzel trying to come up with an answer that would satisfy both hardcore states’ rights supporters and hardcore anti-union activists:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said today that while he favors right-to-work legislation on a state level, he will not push for a federal right-to-work law.
“If there were to be a federal right-to-work law that reached my desk, I would support it,” Romney said. “But the right approach is a state by state approach at this stage.”
Pressed by John Kalb, executive director of New England Citizens for Right to Work, about whether he would actively advocate for a federal law, Romney responded, “I’m a Tenth Amendment guy. I’d like the states to be the place we carry out this path.”
So Romney’s position is that a federal anti-union law is the wrong approach. But he would sign it into law. Even though he thinks the law runs counter to the 10th Amendment. Or something.
Romney’s nonsensical answer is just one more sign that Republicans really only care about states rights when doing so advances their policy goals. President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court appointees fought tooth and nail to give drug companies, banks, and the tobacco industry sweeping immunity from state law through preemption — often with the public and enthusiastic support of Bush’s Department of Justice. More recently, the House GOP rallied behind a tort reform proposal despite claims by leading tenthers that this kind of federal government takeover of the state tort system violates the Constitution.
As Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) claimed in his tenther manifesto Fed Up, all “national labor laws” violate tentherism. So that means no child labor laws or minimum wage, but it also means no federal laws protecting rich businessmen from their workers’ right to organize. Romney, however, thinks he can have it both ways. He wants to wrap himself in the trappings of the tenther movement, but still pledge his support to anti-tenther laws targeting Republican boogie men such as unions.