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Investigation: Romneycare Blueprint for Obamacare – Paul v. Cain on Economics – Republicans’ New Jobs Through Growth Act

October 16, 2011

Investigation Confirms RomneyCare Was the Blueprint for ObamaCare

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Written by Daniel Sayani  –  New American
Friday, 14 October 2011 16:43
mitt romneyA recent investigation uncovered evidence that senior officials in the Obama administration unabashedly used the landmark healthcare bill of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (left) as the prototype for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, popularly referred to as ObamaCare.Newly obtained White House records reveal that ObamaCare was modeled after RomneyCare, which was enacted in 2006 and mandates that all Massachusetts residents purchase a government-approved minimum health insurance policy. In addition, when the Obama administration was crafting the ObamaCare legislation, it even consulted the same health care experts and advisors who helped the Republican Romney administration craft its version of socialized healthcare in 2006.The records, gleaned from White House visitor logs reviewed by NBC News, show that senior White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006, when the Republican presidential candidate was Governor of Massachusetts. One of those meetings, on July 20, 2009, was in the Oval Office and presided over by President Barack Obama, the records show.The investigations confirm what authentically conservative critics of socialized health insurance have long known — that RomneyCare, and to a lesser extent, an earlier universal health care policy proposal drafted by the Republican Nixon administration in the 1970s, served as the prototypes and models for ObamaCare.“The White House wanted to lean a lot on what we’d done in Massachusetts,” said Jon Gruber, an MIT economist who advised the Romney administration on health care and who attended five meetings at the Obama White House in 2009, including the meeting with the President. “They really wanted to know how we can take that same approach we used in Massachusetts and turn that into a national model.”It should be noted that, further shattering Romney’s claims to conservatism, Gruber was identified in 2007 as “the Democratic Party’s most influential health care expert” by the Washington Post, and Gruber has generally worked with Democrats, including all three of the leading presidential candidates in 2008. Unsurprisingly, Romney’s star advisor is a firm ideologue of the Keynesian School of Economics, like his fellow M.I.T. colleague Paul Krugman. Believing that government spending can “stimulate” the economy and lift the nation out of deficit, he authored an op-ed entitled “Medicine for the Job Market” in the New York Timeson December 4, 2008 arguing that even amid the economic meltdown, creating government-run health care programs would stimulate the economy.Gruber was personally recognized by Romney for his role when he signed the health care bill into law and was later appointed by Romney as a board member to the Connector Authority. (He also was given a photograph of the signing ceremony personally signed by Romney that read: “Jonathan, with deep appreciation and congratulations. A Triumph! Mitt Romney.”)Gruber now says he is “proud” of Romney for “sticking up for what he did in Massachusetts” but is “disappointed” about his current efforts to make distinctions between the state law and the Affordable Care Act. The DNC’s favorite health economist also says that Romney is the “father of healthcare reform”:

I think he is the single person most responsible for health care reform in the United States. … I’m not trying to make a political position or a political statement. I honestly feel that way. If Mitt Romney had not stood up for this reform in Massachusetts … I don’t think it would have happened nationally. So I think he really is the guy with whom it all starts.

The Obama administration also hired Jon Kingsdale, who was appointed by Romney to serve as the first director of the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority. Kingsdale has been widely credited with leading the implementation of the state law — getting people to comply with the Massachusetts mandate to obtain health insurance, and setting up the Connector, a marketplace where people without employer coverage buy insurance, just as will occur on the state-based “exchanges” envisioned by the national law, according to a Washington Post article from April 2010.

The investigation also revealed that John McDonough played a crucial role in both RomneyCare and ObamaCare. McDonough, a confidante of Ted Kennedy, formerly led the chief lobby for RomneyCare, Health Care for All, and quipped that ObamaCare is merely RomneyCare “with three more zeroes.”

Unsurprisingly, when RomneyCare passed the Massachusetts legislature, it was hailed as a national breakthrough when Romney signed it an elaborate ceremony — complete with a fife and drum band — at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall on April 12, 2006. In addition, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who long advocated for socialized health care, was honored by Romney at the signing. Kennedy warmly praised Romney at the event, saying, “You’ve led the way over the long and winding path to this moment.” Romney himself touted the historic significance of the act. “Massachusetts once again is taking a giant leap forward,” he said at the signing ceremony.

NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports:

Asked about about the White House records Tuesday at a press conference announcing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement, Romney said the people involved in the White House meetings were “consultants,” not “aides.” He added that “one person [Obama] should have talked to was me.”

The response echoed comments that Romney made last April after Obama suggested the White House had borrowed from his law in Massachusetts.

“He does me the great favor of saying that I was the inspiration of his plan,” Romney said of Obama. “If that’s the case, why didn’t you call me? …Why didn’t you ask what was wrong? Why didn’t you ask if this was an experiment, what worked and what didn’t. … I would have told him, ‘What you’re doing, Mr. President, is going to bankrupt us.’”

The parallels between ObamaCare and RomneyCare are nonetheless striking. The key features of RomneyCare were written into the national legislation, including an individual mandate, which required state residents to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty — and the creation of a state agency to help the uninsured to purchase private health insurance plans at reasonable costs. Indeed, even Obama’s closest advisor, David Axelrod, admitted that “we got some good ideas from him,” and in an earlier edition of his memoirs, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Romney described universal health care as follows: “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.”

Capitalizing on the revelations for political advantage, Texas Governor Rick Perry released a campaign commercial assailing Romney for the role RomneyCare played in inspiring ObamaCare. While Perry lacks an ideological commitment to health care freedom (he believes that the state has the right to dictate what individuals do with their own bodies, as revealed in his Executive Order as Governor mandating that all public schoolgirls be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus), his ad does correctly point out that RomneyCare had disastrous effects on Massachusetts’s economy, costing the state 18,000 jobs, raising costs by over eight billion dollars, and raising private health insurance premiums in the state by more than four billion dollars. In addition, fraud has been rampant, physician wait times have increased, and the program is expected to exceed its original cost estimates by more than two billion dollars over the coming decade. Nonetheless, Romney and his supporters claim that RomneyCare did not include tax increases, although taxes have been increased in Massachusetts in order to cover cost overruns.

The revelations are expected to further hinder Romney’s hopes of capturing the conservative electorate, who already perceive him as a left-leaning Republican, due to RomneyCare, his inconsistency on abortion, and a host of other issues.

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Tea Party Presidential Election Primer: Paul v. Cain on Economics

 

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Written by Thomas R. Eddlem
Friday, 14 October 2011 11:08
With the recent decline in the polls of the candidacies of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, Tea Party members have two top-tier candidates to consider as an alternative to the liberal Massachusetts Republican Mitt Romney: Herman Cain and Ron Paul.But how do these two Tea Party favorites stack up on economic issues? Here’s a quick survey on their differences:TARP BailoutOne of the biggest issues leading to the formation of the Tea Party movement was -— after the burgeoning deficit -— reaction against the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) law. Many Americans joined the Tea Party to stop what was obviously political favoritism being sold by fear-mongering government leaders, and it resulted in a number of pro-TARP Republican veterans losing their primaries and anti-TARP Republicans winning the November 2010 general election.During the housing bubble, profits were privatized. But once “too big to fail” Wall Street banks saw major losses on risky bets made in the real estate market, they came crying to Washington and demanded taxpayers pick up the shortfall. Establishment politicians in Washington obliged, selling the bailout package with a heaping helping of fear. Mitt Romney said “all the jobs” in America would be gone if the trust funds of the super-rich were not bailed out using the tips of cab drivers and waitresses.

Herman Cain: Cain called TARP a “win-win for the taxpayer” in an October 20, 2008 column. “Unprecedented problems require unprecedented solutions. The actions by the Treasury are a win-win for the taxpayer.” After Congress passed the TARP bailout, Cain complained about how the money was doled out, but not about the principle of crony-capitalism where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. Cain said in the October 11 Bloomberg/Washington Post debate, “They were discretionary in which institutions they were going to save, rather than apply it equitably, which is what most of us thought was going to be done. The implementation of it is where they got off-track.” Cain has never made it clear who he believes should have gotten a bailout that didn’t, or even if he believed that every failing institution should have been bailed out by taxpayers, but it’s clear from that statement that he believed that the taxpayer bailouts didn’t go far enough.

Ron Paul: Congressman Paul publicly opposed the TARP bailout and voted against the bill as Congressman. He charged that the bailout was the antithesis of the free market. Instead, Paul asserted, “What we’ve had is cronyism, it’s interventionism and inflationism, and corporatism. That’s what is wrong. What we need is more freedom, not more government.”

Federal Reserve Audit/$16 Trillion Secret Bailout

If the TARP bailout using taxpayer dollars was bad, the Federal Reserve bailout was much worse. The Federal Reserve secretly lent at least $16 trillion in funds funneled through various Federal Reserve emergency facilities -— more than the entire size of the U.S. economy, and 22 times the size of the TARP bailout -— to favored banks and corporations from 2008 through 2010. And the Federal Reserve Bank steadfastly refused to release the bailout information even to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) until Bloomberg won a Freedom of Information lawsuit in December 2010.

After Bloomberg won partial access to the bailout information, the GAO was able to come up with the $16 trillion figure as the bailout total. What came out of the GAO partial audit was that the Federal Reserve highly favored elite Wall Street banks with the following funds: $2.5 trillion for Citigroup, $2.0 trillion for Morgan Stanley, $1.9 trillion for Merrill Lynch and $1.3 trillion for Bank of America.

Cain: Herman Cain — a former chairman of the Kansas City branch of the Federal Reserve Bank — was an opponent of a GAO audit of the Fed until 2011, telling Neil Boortz’s radio audience in December 2010: “There’s no hidden secrets going on in the Federal Reserve to my knowledge. And I tell people, we’ve got 12 Federal Reserve Banks. Find out which district you are in, call them up and go from there. We don’t need to waste money with another commission or an audit.” Cain now says (in the Bloomberg debate) that he never opposed an audit, but that he doesn’t care if one is done. “I have also said, to be precise, I do not object to the Federal Reserve being audited. I simply said, if someone wants to initiate that action, go right ahead. It doesn’t bother me. So  you — I’ve been misrepresented in that regard. I don’t have a problem with the Federal Reserve being audited. It’s simply not my top priority.”

Paul: Ron Paul has been a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve, and has for years sponsored a bill called “The Federal Reserve Transparency Act,”which calls for a full GAO audit of the Fed. Paul’s bill won the support of every House Republican and a third of the Democrats in the last Congress, and a watered-down version of it was passed into law in 2010. In the current Congress, as Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee that oversees the Fed, Paul has held frequent hearings on the Fed and called for more transparency in its operations.

Housing Bubble/Economic Crash Avoidance

A healthy economy is a key goal of the Tea Party movement. While low taxes and regulations are key to producing a healthy economy, a President who can foresee and avoid an economic bubble and bust cycle that results in demands for bailouts is essential. Governments create financial bubbles, such as the NASDAQ bubble of the late 1990s and the housing bubble of the early 2000s. Where do Cain and Paul rate on diagnosing the problem in the last bubble and calling for a cure?

Cain: Herman Cain has recently admitted he had no clue that the economy wasn’t on sound footing throughout the housing bubble (and as late as his column of September 1, 2008, just two weeks before Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy). But he at least partially diagnosed the housing bubble after the bubble blew up. “What I missed in 2005 was just how bad Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had distorted the housing market,” Cain told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on October 12, 2011. “I honestly did not realize just how bad it was, just how bad the whole bundling and derivatives thing was, and that we were on the brink of a total financial meltdown. So I learned later on by looking into it deeper that the situation was a lot worse than I thought in 2005.”

Paul: Ron Paul began attacking the housing bubble as early as September 6, 2001 and fully diagnosed the problem as including an artificial incentive to borrow from the Federal Reserve Bank as well as the GSEs and the Community Reinvestment Act: “The Federal Reserve credit created during the last eight months has not stimulated economic growth in technology or in the industrial section. But a lot of it ended up in the expanding real estate bubble, churned by the $3.2 trillion of debt maintained by the GSEs, the Government Sponsored Enterprises. The GSEs, made up of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank have managed to keep the housing market afloat in contrast to the more logical slowdown in hotel and office construction…. Instead of the newly-inflated money being directed towards the stock market, it now finds its way into the rapidly expanding real estate bubble. This too will burst as all bubbles do. The Fed, the Congress, or even foreign investors can’t prevent the collapse of this bubble.”

Economic Advisors

Most Presidents are not expected to be economic geniuses; they can sometimes substitute solid economic advice for actual economic knowledge. Herman Cain noted this in his October 12 interview on MSNBC. “Well, it’s real simple, Chuck,” Cain replied to a question about why Americans should trust his economic agenda after failing to see the biggest bubble of his lifetime. “I have economic advisors working with me now who spend time studying these various analyses.” This is a valid point. A President who has solid economic advisors, and who defers to them, can compensate for lack of economic knowledge without the public suffering unnecessary economic crashes.

Cain: Herman Cain has only publicly named one economic advisor, Rich Lowrie of the metro Cleveland, Ohio area. Lowrie is a Managing Director of a Wells Fargo branch. Wells Fargo is a giant bank that received among the largest bailout funds through the TARP program — $25 billion — in addition to another $169 billion in secret loans from the Federal Reserve Bank during the economic crisis. Liberals have sneered that Lowrie doesn’t have “credentials,” i.e., a degree in economics. But neither does Ron Paul’s chief economic advisor (see below), and most of the accredited economists missed the housing bubble/bust anyway. Nevertheless, it’s unclear what Lowrie’s ability to diagnose the economy is from his scant published record.

Cain gave some indication of the kind of advisor he might hire in the October 11 Bloomberg/Washington Post debate when he was asked who was the best Federal Reserve Chairman over the past 40 years. Cain named Alan Greenspan — the Fed Chairman from 1987-2006 who blew up the housing bubble by suppressing interest rates to then-record lows — as the man Cain thought did the best job.

Paul: By way of contrast, Ron Paul’s top economic advisor since his 2008 presidential campaign has been EuroPacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff. Schiff has a long public record on economic prognostications. And he was laughed at regularly on national television shows from 2005-07 for claiming a housing and financial crisis was looming. But his predictions were so accurate in calling the housing bubble/bust that fans built a YouTube video “Peter Schiff was right” that has garnered millions of views. He even famously told a conference of the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2005 and 2006 that the housing bubble was about to pop.

Paul, asked who did the best job as Fed Chairman in the Bloomberg debate, said none would be acceptable to him. But he added that Paul Volker, the Fed Chairman from 1979-87, was at least successful in taming runaway inflation at the end of the Carter administration and laying the groundwork for the Reagan-era economic growth.

Photo: Republican presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) right, speaks as businessman Herman Cain listens during the Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate in Ames, Iowa, Aug. 11, 2011: AP Images

Related article: Herman Cain Admits He “Missed” Economic Crisis

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The Republicans’ New Jobs Through Growth Act

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Written by Bob Adelmann
Friday, 14 October 2011 14:43

Following the Senate’s rejection of President Obama’s jobs bill on Tuesday, Senate Republicans have offered their own jobs bill, The Jobs Through Growth Act, as an alternative. Presented by Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Rand Paul (Ky., left) and Rob Portman (Ohio), the bill is designed to defuse the President’s charge that the Republicans had no plan of their own as well as offer different approaches to stimulating job growth. Said Paul, “We simply cannot look to the failed policies of the last two years for an example of how to grow our economy and create jobs. More government spending and excessive regulation are the problem, not the solution. We have spent too long increasing the tax and regulatory burdens on job creators, instead of allowing them to operate more freely and create more jobs.”

McCain said “We just thought it was time to put this all into a package. I will freely admit to you that part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal,” while Portman called it “a pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs … as opposed to the short-term sweetener approach of the Obama administration that simply hasn’t worked.” According to McCain, most Senate Republicans have signed onto the bill.

The bill is an agglomeration of bills offered by various Senators all wrapped up in one package. The big one is repeal of ObamaCare (Senate Bill 192, offered by Senator Jim DeMint), which would remove more than $550 billion in new taxes as that law is implemented, and keep medical costs from rising even higher by an estimated $300 billion. Insurance costs under ObamaCare per family are projected to increase by $2,100 a year to say nothing of the projected 800,000 job losses expected if ObamaCare stays in place.

Next is repeal of the Dodd-Frank bill (also offered by Senator DeMint, as SB 712) now being implemented with new rules that haven’t been completed yet and aren’t expected to be for many months. According to the Financial Services Roundtable, Dodd-Frank could cost 4.6 million jobs by the year 2015 unless it is repealed.

Revamping the tax code is the next major piece, to be accomplished by reducing individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent while requiring the Senate Finance Committee to make changes in various credits and deductions in order to keep these reductions “revenue neutral.”

There is also the requirement (offered by Senator Orrin Hatch, S.J.Res.10) to require a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, a process that, if passed, could take years to gain sufficient approval from the states. And there is a line-item veto, despite the Supreme Court’s decision in 1998 that such a law is unconstitutional.

In addition, there is the corporate “tax holiday” offered to repatriate some $1.4 trillion in foreign earnings that under current law would be subject to taxes up to 35 percent if they were brought back to this country. That additional capital, it is suggested, would then be invested in new equipment and jobs instead of lying idle abroad.

There is some effort to rein in aggressive actions by various regulatory agencies such as the EPA and the National Labor Relations Board by requiring them to justify their regulations and measure their impact on job creation (or loss) before implementing them. And other parts of the bill encourage regulatory agencies to speed up allowing drilling for oil on public lands and offshore as well. The President would be given “fast-tracking” to allow speedy approval of free-trade agreements which are alleged to have a positive impact on job creation in the economy.

The Republicans’ Jobs Through Growth Act is just the latest of a flurry of “jobs” bills, including the President’s Americans Jobs Act of 2011, the House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators, the House Democrats’ Make It In America plan,  and a plan offered by the House Progressive Caucus.

Despite the differences between the latest offering by Senate Republicans and the others presented by both houses of Congress, there is little likelihood that anything will be voted on and passed before the November 2012 elections. The impasse is dictated by more than electoral considerations, however. As noted accurately by Democratic Representative Steny Hoyer (Md.):

The fundamental difference is, Democrats see government as a partner in progress and growth. The Republicans — at least those that have been elected recently — see [government] as the impediment to growth.

And that is the crux of the matter. Hoyer unwittingly acknowledged that most Republicans, except for those “elected recently” are generally in favor of government intrusion in all aspects of life. As long as their number is small, all that those who see government as the impediment can do is to thwart efforts to push for more government, all in the name of job creation. But if their number were to grow significantly after the next election, then perhaps some of the more useful pieces can be enacted, including certainly repeal of ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 6, 2012 10:57 am

    Don’t fall for the line that Massachusetts insurance rerfom is the same as Obamacare. From you column it appears that you have. Sorry for you to have been deceived by whitehouse talking points. Obama needs you to think so and has tried so hard to make Romney out to be just like him. Its a lie.Romney’s plan, the original bill he signed, has little in common with Obamacare which set up multiple gargantuan bureacracies to regulate health care and take decisions away from doctors and patients. It has caused employers to drop coverage in advance of its implementation. It raises premiums. But premiums went down in Massachusetts when it was first inacted. Also, more MA employers extended coverage to their employers, which was a pleasant result and unexpected. Romney’s plan kept health care decisions with doctors and patients while Obamacare creates decision boards and so called death panels. The narrative in the press is that they are one in the same, Romney’s plan and Obamacare. This helps Obama as he positions himself for 2012 and weakens Romney. But wise up! Its a false assertion. If you beleive this its because you have gotten your info from Obama’s talking points and a liberal media who prefer Palin because they think that would make 2012 so much more fun. Romney’s bill was only 70 pages and not shoved down voters throats. Its was bipartisan and gratefully received by providers, patients and insurance companies whose concerns were all addressed over a two year process. This was insurance rerfom not healthcare rerfom Obama care is healthcare rerfom no its health care industry takeover. On the road to socialized medicine. Romney’s plan keeps healthcare in the private sector and that my friend is a HUGE difference. Take the wool off from your eyes. Don’t be deceived by those who want you to think they are the same. And if you think Fox News offering of snippets of Romney defending his plan was weak, I submit you are letting the media lead you to your conclusions rather thatn searching it out for yourself. I have heard him well-defend it as conservative and creative way of spending money they were already receiving for free care at hospitals and putting it toward insurance instead.So until you know a way to bring insurance to the uninsured, I would ask that you stop comparing Romney’s to Obama’s. While Romney’s was focused on the uninsured, Obama’s clearly focused taking over healthcare fo all mankind. That is the major thrust of it. So figure out a better way and lets compare that to Romney’s plan. And I mean Romney’s plan, NOT the derivative of it that now exists after five years of democrat tinkering.An another thing. What in the world does your being a Mormon have to do with anything? Why even bring it up? When is there ever going to be a faithblind society if you keep bringing that up? It doesn’t matter what your religion is or what any presidential candidate’s religion is. Period.Lori,Again, I have not heard the White House say anything about Romney. This is my own reaction. The only people I have heard questioning this position of Romney’s are conservative commentators.And as to a faithblind society, my point is that I am NOT for Romney, in spite of our similar religious beliefs. But I am confident that a poll would reveal a strong correlation between being an LDS Republican and being pro-Romney.I do, however, believe it entirely appropriate to weigh a candidate’s religious beliefs in deciding whether or not to vote for him or her. For me, I am mostly interested in how faithful they are to those beliefs, whatever they are, than in which particular religion they espouse. Here in Mesa, when I heard that our recently released stake president was running for the state legislature, I signed up to help his campaign and voted for him. In that case I knew him personally and knew he was a good man of solid integrity and a strong conservative. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

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