“My View” from the Sept. 10, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, but a total lack of constancy has sure created a tough situation for Mitt Romney, whose own campaign, of course, first used the Etch A Sketch metaphor to describe him, to all journalists’ delight. Yesterday’s new chapter in the unraveling of Mitt as a clear-thinking person came in his effort to thread the needle once again on health care.
He knows that the individual pieces of health care reform are extraordinarily popular, from pre-existing conditions being covered to kids’ ability to remain on their parents’ health plan through age 26. So Mitt, hesitant to seem more Scrooge-like than he already does — the effete, wealthy patrician saying to most Americans, “Let them eat cake” — performed a quick pirouette. Instead of supporting full repeal of the act, as he has in the past and as his running mate currently does, he said he would keep certain provisions, such as the one relating to pre-existing conditions. A sure sign of humanity, empathy and compassion.
There is a school of thought, parenthetically, that believes that Chief Justice Roberts’ more favorable sentiment toward the health care act is driven by the reality that since he has a pre-existing condition — recall his history of seizures — he may now be more favorably disposed toward the act.
But Mitt’s position creates a huge problem for him: How does he propose to pay for this expansion of benefits? The options are limited: Asking existing customers to subsidize those with pre-existing conditions, or having government subsidize them, is not an answer Mitt can give. Nor can he give the rational answer — an individual mandate or something similar — so that there are no free riders in the health care system. The individual mandate, of course, created by Mitt himself and the Heritage Foundation, is now the bane of his party and the right.
So to the surprise of no one, Mitt now steadfastly refuses to answer the question. Both his lack of constancy and his failure to answer the tough questions is no shock; it is par for the course. Whether it is his budget proposal, his tax plan or his foreign policy statements, they are as solid as quicksand, have as many holes as Swiss cheese, are as trustworthy as Wall Street and are as permanent as an Etch A Sketch.
That’s “My View.”