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RomneyCare ‘Sort Of Similar’ To ObamaCare, But Only Obama Will Acknowledge It

By Matt Corley  

"RomneyCare ‘Sort Of Similar’ To ObamaCare, But Only Obama Will Acknowledge It"

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In an interview with President Obama today, NBC’s Matt Lauer wondered how the historic health care reform legislation that Obama signed last week “could be good for the American public in general when it didn’t receive one single Republican vote.” Obama responded by noting “that the Republican party made a calculated decision, a political decision, that they would not support whatever we did.” He then added that the bill “incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas” and is similar to what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts:

OBAMA: And I think that’s unfortunate because when you actually look at the bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas. I mean a lot of commentators have said this is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now presidential candidate, passed in Massachusetts. A lot of the ideas in terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market. That originated from the Heritage Foundation and…

Noting the “middle of the road, centrist approach” of the reform legislation, Obama said that he was “frustrated that Republicans” who “had an opportunity to help shape this bill declined that opportunity.” “The overall architecture of it was actually something that was right down the middle,” said Obama. Watch it:

Obama’s reference to RomneyCare will undoubtedly cause discomfort for Romney, who has unconvincingly tried for months to distinguish his plan from Obama’s. Just yesterday in Iowa, Romney was on the defensive over the distinction between the two plans. “We solved our problem at the state level,” said Romney. “Why is it that President Obama is stepping in and saying ‘one size fits all?’’’

In an interview with the Boston Globe, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who advised the Romney and Obama administrations on their health insurance programs, attested to the plans’ similarities. “Basically, it’s the same thing,’’ said Gruber, adding that Obama’s national reform wouldn’t have happened if Romney had not made “the decision in 2005 to go for it. He is in many ways the intellectual father of national health reform.’’ Gruber also called Romney’s claims about the different ways that he and Obama finance their plans “disingenuous.’’

Transcript:

LAUER: This version of health care reform did not receive one Republican vote. You almost have to say that again and let it really sink in — not one Republican vote.

And a lot of people wonder how a bill, or now a law, could be good for the American public in general when it didn’t receive one single Republican vote, and when a recent poll said 50 percent of people aren’t in favor of this plan. How do you respond to that?

OBAMA: Well, look. I think that the Republican party made a calculated decision, a political decision, that they would not support whatever we did. All right? There was a quote by a well-known Republican Senator who said this is going to be Obama’s waterloo. This is what’s — we’re going to bring him down the same way that we brought down Bill Clinton, by making sure that health care fails.

And I think that’s unfortunate because when you actually look at the bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas. I mean a lot of commentators have said this is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now presidential candidate, passed in Massachusetts. A lot of the ideas in terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market. That originated from the Heritage Foundation and…

LAUER: So you’re saying it’s all politics. It is not about the inner workings of the bill, it is all politics.

OBAMA: I will say that any objective observer looking at this bill would say that this is a middle of the road, centrist approach to providing coverage to people and making sure that we are also reducing costs.

I am frustrated that Republicans who I think had an opportunity to help shape this bill declined that opportunity. That’s not to say that on specific provisions there might be legitimate concerns that they had philosophical concerns that they had. Some of them I think sincerely believed that we should do more on this aspect of the bill or that aspect of the bill. But the overall architecture of it was actually something that was right down the middle.

LAUER: Daniel Henninger, who is the deputy editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, had an interesting take on it, Mr. President. He said, If you produce a bill that even Olympia Snowe of Maine cannot vote for, you have not produced legislation for the generations. You’ve produced once in a lifetime legislation that no Republican from any constituency across America can vote for. What’s your response to that?

OBAMA: My response is, well, number one, the Wall Street Journal editorial page is not favorable to much of what I do. But I think what’s interesting is that if you actually break down the specifics of the bill, you will see that this historically has had a lot of Republican support.

There historically was a lot of Republican support for the notion of an individual mandate, that everybody should take responsibility. There was historically a lot of Republican support for the idea that we should make sure that entitlement reform exists within Medicare. There was historically a lot of Republican support for the idea of the exchange, which is the centerpiece of the bill.

So if you actually look at the particulars, these are all things that in the past others, including the Wall Street Journal editorial page, had endorsed, and yet, oddly…

LAUER: What you keep coming back to is that the fix was in — is what you’re basically saying.

OBAMA: I think what happened is they made a calculation, which if you are thinking in terms of short-term politics, you can see the argument. Their attitude is, look, if we stop this bill, if we paint it as — and we stop this president here, then that will give us a lot of political benefit in November.

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