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Can I Get A Mittness?

How Mitt Romney may have single handedly brought down Obamacare. Creation Date Sunday, 01 April 2012. Hits 1619

Can I Get A Mittness?

Michelle Bachmann has been the most outspoken critic of President Obama's health care reform legislation. Newt Gingrich has had the toughest stance on what he would do to get rid of it. Rick Santorum has insisted that Romney would be the wrong choice for Republicans because of his own efforts at reforming the health care system in Massachusetts. But Mitt just might have an air of legitimacy in this debate that none of the others have if the Supreme Court shoots down the individual mandate or the whole law, as many experts watching the process are now expecting them to do. To understand why this is the case, one has to look all the way back to 2004.

At that time I was living in Wheeling Illinois, and in November I found myself at home watching the election results roll in. Early exit polling data had suggested that John Kerry had the race well in hand, but as the results came in those polls were proving to be wrong. This was the race that I was interested in, and I was disappointed as the local coverage kept focusing on another race which was well in hand.

I had heard the name "Barack Obama" a few times, and I knew he was expected to win the open Senate seat, but I was unaware of what a rock star he was in the area. Yet instead of getting full, up to the minute results on the Presidential race, I was watching the local journalists scramble to get an interview with the guy. When they got the interview, I remember thinking to myself that I liked the guy. After all, the local journalists were ready to annoint him President. I thought to myself how silly that was for a guy who was embarking on his first term in the Senate, and Obama himself agreed with me.

You know, I am a believer in knowing what you're doing when you apply for a job. And I think that if I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket, I would essentially have to start now, before having served a day in the Senate. Now, there are some people who might be comfortable doing that, but I'm not one of those people.

Looking back on it now, that statement from then Senator-elect Obama was very insightful. It is easy to see now how right he was. He was certainly not prepared for the job, and all of the big challenges that it presented. Perhaps I should have been focused on his race instead of the Presidential race. But the biggest moment as far as Obama Care is concerned didn't come on the night of the elections. It came earlier in the year in the state of Massachusetts, the home state of Bush challenger John Kerry. The leadership in that state was convinced that their native son would win, and this would leave his Senate seat vacant. Under the laws as they were then structured, this would have left the Governor to appoint a replacement. And that Governor was... you guessed it, Mitt Romney. The Democrats couldn't stand for that, so they took action.

In 2004, state Democrats implemented the new rules out of fear that then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney would fill Democratic Sen. John Kerry's seat with a Republican should Kerry have been elected to the Presidency.

Let's jump back forward to the health care reform law, and the way it was passed. Following the death of Senator Kennedy, the Democrats felt the heat on this bill with the Special Election (called for by the rules put in place in '04) that sent Republican Scott Brown to Washington to represent the people of Massachusetts. Momentarily, leading Democrats even considered giving up on the law, but ultimately they decided to push it through.

Now had they had time to continue working on the bill as they had been doing before Kennedy's demise, they may have been able to perfect it. Perhaps they would have ditched the individual mandate, as even President Obama was opposed to that provision.

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So let's follow the timeline here.

  1. Mass. changes their election law to keep Governor Romney from appointing the replacement for Senator Kerry.
  2. Senator Kerry loses to George Bush.
  3. Barack Obama wins election to the United States Senate.
  4. Obama is elected President.
  5. Senator Ted Kennedy dies in office, leaving his vacated seat to a special election under the new rules.
  6. Scott Brown wins the runoff election on his promise to kill Obama Care.
  7. The Democrats were forced to pass what they already had so they could send it back and forth between the Houses and avoid the requirement of 60 votes that they no longer had once Brown arrived.

So now, the bill that they passed is a law, and it hangs in the balance as we await a decision from the Supreme Court. If it stands, then we go back to the process of repealing it. If it falls, then much of the credit should go to Mitt Romney, whose conservative credentials have been under attack in this campaign. But they were never doubted by those who worked with him when he was Governor. They new that if he were allowed to appoint a replacement for John Kerry, it would be one that they were not in agreement with. As it turned out, the people of the state didn't choose the one they wanted either, but that is neither here nor there.

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