January 24th, 2012

Dueling individual mandates: Newt and Mitt

I’m curious to hear from the Newt-supporters on this one.

Ace’s post today reminded me of something I’d mentioned a while back in this comment of mine: that Gingrich is on record as supporting an individual mandate or the posting of a bond for health insurance—at the federal level. Not only that, but he said so as recently as May of 2011.

We all know, of course, that so-called Romneycare involved an individual mandate on the state level, and that it was passed in 2006 when Romney was governor of Massachusetts. Romney has also said that he is against such a mandate at the federal level, and that each state should be allowed to decide for itself.

But did you also know this?:

Romney…hated the employer mandate and vetoed the provision that employers of 11 or more offer coverage or face a penalty of $295 per employee. This veto, and seven others aimed at less controversial aspects of the law, were easily overridden by the Democratic Legislature.

Romney considers the Massachusetts plan needlessly gold-plated; he would have pushed for a much cheaper version that allowed minimal coverage options.

He believes the Massachusetts health connector, the insurance exchange which the Obama plan would emulate, has created an excessive regulatory burden, imposing too many requirements on what commercial insurers must offer for a policy to qualify as “minimum creditable coverage’’ under the law. His proposal, to require only a bare-bones policy that covered hospitalization and catastrophic illness, was rejected by the Legislature…

Romney also wanted a way for those of means to opt out of the mandate by posting a bond — essentially a promise to pay for future uninsured health care costs. Critics called it a “fig leaf’’ and Romney concedes that few would have taken advantage — just as only a handful choose a similar option to post a $10,000 bond rather than buy compulsory auto insurance in Massachusetts.

But the principle mattered to him, and the failure of the Legislature to agree still rankles…

That appeared in the Boston Globe in June of 2011.

I point it out not necessarily because I think it will change your mind (I don’t), but because it illustrates how much confusion and misinformation gets stirred up during the fog of campaigns. Nothing is quite what we think it is, is it? Is Romneycare really something Romney designed (and yes, I know he defends it for Massachusetts), and what would Gingrich have done were he somehow to find himself in a similar position? And does this at all change your notion of how conservative Romney “really” is?

[ADDENDUM: I left out some relevant parts of that Romney quote from the Globe. Here’s the rest:

And as for those on the economic margin, Romney thought that no one, however poor, should get insurance for no cost at all. He advocated a small premium, even a few dollars a month, for the neediest, but the Legislature balked.

Today, under the Commonwealth Care program, about half of the 160,000 receiving subsidized coverage pay no premium because their incomes fall below certain federal poverty level guidelines.

“When you give something away that is entirely free, people don’t value it as much as they should,’’ Romney said.]

53 Responses to “Dueling individual mandates: Newt and Mitt”

  1. Book Says:

    This is what frustrates me about Romney. This is a good point to be bringing up, and yet it’s not. Not that I’ve heard, anyway.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Book: I’m in complete agreement with you. It’s one of the reasons I don’t consider Romney a good candidate.

    On the other hand (and I’m doing this from memory, so I’m not sure I’m exactly right about it), I seem to recall that he did try to explain some of this at some point (or some of his supporters did). Whenever he got into the details of Romneycare and why he wasn’t responsible for all of it, everybody’s eyes would glaze over (cause it’s rather technical) and it was considered, “excuses, excuses.” Somehow whatever he did wasn’t enough, because after all he compromised, you see, and played ball with the evil liberals in Massachusetts. I think many people on the right consider being governor of a liberal state an immediate disqualification for the presidency, unless that person spent the entire term of office shutting the state down and defying the legislature and its people. I think the idea is that if you’re a true conservative you don’t run for office in a state like Massachusetts.

    So perhaps Romney found that in the past his explanations didn’t work, so he gave that approach up. But I don’t really know.

    Byron York refers briefly to the situation here:

    In the campaign, Romney has blamed the Democratic Massachusetts legislature for Romneycare’s problems and denied vigorously that he believes his bill would be a good model for the nation. It’s a difficult position to take on his signature achievement in office. And it would not have happened had Romney not chosen to run in Massachusetts.

  3. expat Says:

    I think Christie is supporting Romney because he knows what it’s like to get things done in a blue state. I suspect that Romney’s chief motivation in running for governor was to bring some financial order to the state. He wasn’t made dictator so he had to cut deals. Still, his number of vetoes is impressive. I think it’s great that Romneycare exists. It is a concrete example of things to avoid in other states and federally.

  4. Jim Nicholas Says:

    I so wish Romney would say something like “I learned many things from the health care experiment in Massachusetts, what to continue and what to abandon; unfortunately, President Obama did not.” To learn and change is not flip-flopping. If only he could explain why change based upon experience is conservative.

  5. Steve Says:

    If Romney objected to all these things why did he sign the bill into law? Why is he defending the law now? He is talking out of both sides of his mouth. I am not sure who he thinks he is fooling.

  6. chuck Says:

    *shrug*. All predictable consequences, and yet he won’t disavow it. I think he is proud of it, with all its flaws, and that he thinks it is a good thing in the end. Giving the states waivers isn’t a solution, it is a delaying tactic.

    I’m not a Newt supporter, but my impression of Romney hasn’t changed since I first saw him four years ago: stiff, and telling me what he thought I wanted to hear. He is a fine man at the personal level, but I’m not convinced he thinks big, seems more of a detail guy.

    Romney’s attack on Newt the other night was effective, but I don’t think it is going to help him much, because the big problem with Romney is Romney, not his taxes, not Bain, not Newt. He’s just not there. Look at the sudden collapse of his support in SC, amazing. And Huntsman’s people went to… Newt. Why doesn’t he go after the EPA? Why not “drill, baby, drill”. But no, he’s wasting his time on attack ads against Newt. But that’s the playbook.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve: Romney vetoed many of the provisions of the law, and the Massachusetts legislature overrode his vetoes—but there was never a moment’s question that they were going to override whatever he vetoed. He was the governor of the state of Massachusetts, a very liberal state. The people of the state of Massachusetts wanted the law, as did the legislature, and he had no power to block the provisions he didn’t want (although he tried).

    He is defending it for Massachusetts. And it was popular there:

    …68.5 percent of nonelderly adults [in Massachusetts] supported the law in 2006; 67 percent still do [written in March of 2011].

    (Another poll here.)

    See also this:

    The plan was approved by two conservative Republicans who were secretary of the Health and Human Services Department under George W. Bush, Tommy Thompson and Mike Leavitt. Furthermore, the plan was supported overwhelmingly in the MA legislature with 198 house reps supporting the bill and only 2 voting against it – 99% voting in favor of the plan! The bill also passed through the state senate without a single dissenting vote and it was supported by nearly every special interest group in the state.

    About Massachusetts and the situation there:

    Claim: “Our approach was a state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts.” — former Gov. Mitt Romney
    Claim: “Different states have different problems.” — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour

    The general problem of residents going without insurance and facing high health care costs is a nationwide issue, not unique to Massachusetts. But the state had its own circumstances, and unique opportunities, which helped make the health care overhaul a reality and kept stakeholders on board and still supportive of the law. First, there was money: $385 million from the federal government and the risk that those dollars would be taken away.

    Massachusetts had some flexibility with that money in the form of a Medicaid waiver that allowed the state to use the federal funds for supplemental payments to safety net hospitals caring for the uninsured. The waiver was due to expire June 30, 2005, and the federal government said the state had to change the way it was spending the money, Murphy, then-state secretary of HHS, explains. In 2005, state officials showed then-U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson a framework of what they wanted to do – essentially reduce the amount the state was spending on uncompensated care and instead give subsidies to the uninsured to buy their own insurance. Thompson extended the waiver for one year, but, Murphy says, told officials they needed to get a law in place.

    Murphy, who now is president and CEO of Beacon Health Strategies, says the state’s uncompensated care pool, set up to reimburse hospitals and community health centers for care for the uninsured, was a “poorly designed, poorly administered program” and “a runaway train” with a lack of transparency on where these dollars were going. The philosophy behind the state government’s ideas was to “empower people” by helping them get insurance and financial security, and give the state more oversight on how the money was spent.

    “Unquestionably the federal dollars have helped,” Widmer at the Taxpayers Foundation says of the matching funds Massachusetts was able to use. “There were very unique circumstances here, including the politics.”

    There’s more, much more, but unless you know a lot (or care a lot) about Massachusetts, I won’t go into it. Romney is correct to defend what he did there—which at the time, by the way, was praised by the Heritage Foundation and considered the most conservative solution possible for the state.

    It’s complicated, and that’s what makes it politically hard for Romney to explain. People aren’t likely to pay attention to the details. It’s ever so much easier to just use sound bites and say “Obamacare=Romneycare; just who does Romney think he’s fooling? He’s Obama in disguise.”

    Who does he think he’s fooling? He’s not “fooling” anyone. He’s doing a poor job of explaining a complex situation to people who aren’t paying attention to the details. I’m not sure it’s even possible to explain a situation like that in the sort of sound bites that are the meat and potatoes of politics, however.

  8. Don Carlos Says:

    We weren’t fooled and we do pay attention. But it is not our job to sift thru political arcanae for telling bits. I was one who met with the Romney team in a Southern state, where Ronmeycare concerns were vocalized by us, emphasizing the mandate, but not addressed nor clarified by his senior team. Perhaps they didn’t know then. Presumably Neo, who I think lives in MA, didn’t then know either, and is posting these details only now. Mitt sure isn’t doing a good job informing us either; or perhaps he has and the media have not reported.

    I suspect he didn’t veto the MA bill because he saw the Federal one coming, thus could claim to be the first initiator, gaining much glory. If a bill is bad, veto it and damn the override!

    I’d like him to have some fire in his belly. I heard a stump speech given in Iowa in which he showed beyond doubt his love of America, but not since.

  9. Don Carlos Says:

    What are the constitutional and legal differences between the indiv. mandate and the mandated posting of a bond? The economic differences are pretty clear.

  10. Curtis Says:

    We should not forget Newt’s wildness and weigh that against Romney’s lack of revealed political acumen. Romeny may have survived because he is the front piece of a machine. A detailed examination of him exonerates him; yes, he is not a monster but an extraordinary person. But he is probably not an extraordinary leader in the mold of Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln.

    Remember what current comments remarked about them. The latter was the great gorilla and the enemy of all mankind and won less of a consensus than any American President either before or after.

    Now is the time for a candidate who leads not performs. It is a risky venture. Performing is Romney’s greatness, but performing assumes a system and resources and a plan already in place. These things are not in place and we are flying solo and need someone with the courage and experience of doing so. That Gingrich has done.

    That Romney had been greatly maligned is true, but it may not erase his inability to fulfill destiny’s role.

  11. Promethea Says:

    How many voters are going to study the health insurance issue? Very few. Here’s a case where the sound-bites are all-important.

    I would like the knowledgeable people to design a healthcare system that allows even the poorest people to get decent care. However, corrupting the medical care that Americans already enjoy is not the answer.

    Therefore, to a simple-minded person like myself:

    1. Obamacare bad.

    2. Private insurance good.

    The exceptions to this rule are numerous. I personally could go on and on (but won’t).

    So Romney has shot himself in the foot by appearing to defend socialized medicine. The details are way too detailed for me to waste my valuable life-minutes on learning about them.

    Another point: Illinois, where I live, is now approaching bankrupcy. Do I want the Illinois state government to run the medical system? No I don’t.

    State socialized medicine may possibly work in a state like ? ? ? where the government is run by sane people. I can’t think of any state like that.

    Maybe, when my taxes go up even further, I’ll have to move to Indiana–not too far from my house–but will a fiscal conservative like Gov. Daniels be in charge then?

    So, in summary, Romney is wrong, even if he was, in theory, right.

    I just finished David Mamet’s book, “The Secret Knowledge.” My takeaway from this book: the government is not your friend. It will grow like kudzu, engulfing all in its path.

  12. Baklava Says:

    Neo wrote, “I point it out not necessarily because I think it will change your mind ”

    Guess what Neo?

    It changed my mind.

    You know me. I read and read and read. But did I read this important tidbit? No.

    Why didn’t I hear Romney say it during the debate? I don’t know.

    It is intersting to learn about the formation of “Romneycare”, the vetoes, the desires, the wants, what was ultimately passed by people who were in the legislature by the same people who keep voting in Ted Kennedy.

    Can I ask you a question Neo?

    You’ve been engaging more in the comments area more than a year or two or three or four ago.

    I hope your mental health is up for it 🙂 but I was wondering if you can tell us why?

  13. Baklava Says:

    Don Carlos wrote about fire in the belly.

    Howard Dean fire in the belly? 🙂

    Seriously though. Appeal to one is not appealing to another. There is such a fine tightrope to walk.

    I’d rather this situation:
    1) The candidates explain their positions effectively and with presidential temperment.
    2) SAVE THE FIRE in the belly for when they are president and need to effectively talk to a foreign threat.

    There are times when people are stirred. Those times should be when we hear our president speak forcefully when the time is right and necessary.

    Newt has a fire in the belly about everything from children working in the schools to Romney’s company Bain all the way to his ex-wife’s accusation to Juan Williams question (Juuuuan).

    Look people . That will get OLD.

    I get that Newt is smart. Keep the smart. Layoff the snark. Act presidential and keep the barbs to a minimum and directed at Obama (not the press – because it’s not smart to attack an organization that owns the ink and airwaves)

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: I understand the argument that Romney doesn’t have (or at least display) fire in the belly. I’m in agreement, and it’s one of the things I do not like about him. I’m not for so much fire a person is in danger of self-immolation, but Romney has a long way to go before that happens.

    I realize that many people aren’t going to support him for a number of reasons. But I’d like those reasons to be based on facts. I think your objection (which I share) is that Romney hasn’t emphasized any of this in the debates (although actually, since I haven’t watched many of the debates, he may have done so and I wouldn’t know about it).

    But he actually has talked about some of this, although he never emphasized the fact that he also wanted a bond. I don’t think there was any reason to, since it was a minor point (I’m only emphasizing it because it’s what Newt said, and on the federal level at that). However, Romney has said in several interviews and even some speeches that he vetoed many of the provisions of the bill and he was overriden.

    Romney actually made a major speech on Romneycare back in May of 2011, in Michigan. He didn’t emphasize the fact that he had proposed a lot of things that were not included, and that he vetoed some things that were included, but he mentioned it. His main thrust was to explain how it worked in Massachusetts, and why the individual mandate was ok at the state level (these were seen as the main issues back then). He also gave a lot of interviews about it.

    Interestingly, that speech in Michigan was universally excoriated by the conservative media. And I don’t just mean Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck; I mean what people now call the “establishment” Republican media that’s supposedly in the bag for Romney and always has been. For example, Jennifer Rubin (who now thinks Romney can do no wrong) hated the speech, as did most every other “elite Republican” in the press.

    Now, perhaps they would have liked it better had he gone into more detail about what he wanted vs. what Massachusetts actually passed, but I believe they would have accused him of whining and making excuses (I’ve seen some pieces that do just that, but I can’t find them right now). Another interesting point—to me, at least—is how, if you read the articles criticizing that speech, from almost all sources on the right, it demolishes the idea that Mitt was their hand-picked man from the start. But that meme has taken on quite a life of its own.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Baklava: good question.

    I have always had a deep distaste for arguments based on misstatements of fact. I don’t mind arguments on the merits, or disagreement on the merits, but it really bothers me when people make statements that are not true or ignore facts that are easily discovered.

    For example, on that thread at Ace’s, not a single person (that I read, anyway) seemed to be aware that Romney had originally proposed a bond, just as Newt was defending, and that Newt was proposing it at the federal level whereas Romney had only dealt at the state level. They were defending Gingrich vociferously, but were ignorant of the facts. This bothers me whenever I see it, and I see it a lot lately (and although it’s certainly not limited to supporters of Newt Gingrich, it’s distressingly common among them). It bothered me pretty intensely, by the way, in regard to Sarah Palin, and in regard to Bush and WMDs so long ago (“Bush lied”), and I spent a lot of time debunking that sort of thing, or trying to. Just to show I’m an equal-opportunity debunker, I’ve spent a lot of time in the comments section on this blog offering proof that Bill Clinton did not commit perjury, and that Kennedy assassination conspiricists are wrong.

    But one thing that’s different about this situation is that there’s a lot more of it going on in the comments section of this blog, from regular commenters. Before, it was more limited to trolls. I respect the viewpoints of regular commenters enough to try to take the time and trouble to offer some competing facts. What they do with it is their business, of course. But that’s what is driving me.

    (Also, see the comment directly above this one.)

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Promethea: Romneycare isn’t even remotely state socialized medicine. It was a plan to keep the entire health insurance business in Massachusetts private while still extending coverage, and it was endorsed by the Heritage Foundation and Newt Gingrich at the time.

    Those aren’t details, and they shouldn’t take all that much time to assimilate.

  17. Baklava Says:

    I relate you a lot Neo.

    I’m sure I’m guilty of misinformation and I’d like to think if somebody writes something or links to something with facts that soak it in – not ignore it.

    But a lot of commeters remind me of when I was 22 years old (42 now).

    And it’s not an age thing. There are people who are learning about free markets and conservatism and then there are people who have represented that they are conservative for over a decade or two saying things that I can only shake my head at.

    I want to say though – I know how people get pretty confused. Take for instance Obama’s speech tonight. He asserted that we got into the financial mess not just because banks were forcing bad loans on people that because buyers were also getting into loans that they never should have.

    I almost stood and shouted YEAH! This is what free markets are about. You get into a loan – don’t blame anybody else for the loan you signed. That’s the free market. But then Obama was working to impose his solution which is of course a big govt solution.

  18. expat Says:

    That bit about the bad loans in SOTU got to me too. I kept thinking about Obama’s ACORN friends threatening banks for not making loans. We don’t get good policies when outrage and protests stop our thinking. As Neo points out, it was more important to protest Romney than to find out what really happened and think more about how to best provide health care.

    One thing I do think that Romney gets is that our economic trajectory has to change: we need to quiet the panic many feel so they can better face our challenges. Re-establishing some regulatory certainty and eliminating rewards and punishments in a pursuit of pipe dreams would give people confidence.

    Another SOTU point that got to me was threatening universities to cut costs. How about getting rid of the diversity administrators and equal opportunity veeps who make more money than adjuncts who actually teach? Obama will never relinquish any power to the people. Nope, he will keep on hopping from one great idea to another, all of which can only be realized if he keeps his hands on the controls. The parallels to Newt are amazing.

  19. gellieba Says:

    Form MA 1099-HC – Individual Mandate – Massachusetts Health Care Coverage.

    Why, as a Massachusetts resident, should I have to provide such form with my Income Tax Return? There is nothing in the Constitution mandating such requirement. It is because Romney signed this law before leaving office in 2007, absolutely convinced that HIS piece of Legislation will give him the path to become POTUS.
    But then came ObamaCare, a true copycat of RomneyCare designed by the same “experts”.
    What was to be an asset became a liability to Romney. The great former Gov. of Massachusetts Mitt Romney is still refusing to recognize the evidences.

    Romney’s ObamaCare Paternity Test:


  20. Pat Says:

    In an Iowa debate last December, Gingrich said: “In 1993, in fighting HillaryCare, virtually every conservative saw the mandate as a less-dangerous future than what Hillary was trying to do. After HillaryCare disappeared it became more and more obvious that mandates have all sorts of problems built into them. People gradually tried to find other techniques. I frankly was floundering, trying to find a way to make sure that people who could afford it were paying their hospital bills while still leaving an out so libertarians to not buy insurance. And that’s what we’re wrestling with. It’s now clear that the mandate, I think, is clearly unconstitutional. But, it started as a conservative effort to stop HillaryCare in the 1990s.”

    On another occasion, and I can’t find the link, Gingrich pointed out that ERs are forced to treat all comers and this was causing costs to escalate. Since society is not willing to refuse treatment to people who need it, it needs to figure out how to maximize the number of people who buy insurance and minimize the free-loaders. That’s the logic that leads to an individual mandate.

    Currently, his healthcare plans focus on making insurance more affordable, increasing competition, tort reform and reforming the FDA.

  21. Conrad Says:

    Thanks, Neo, for the informative and important background material on Romneycare.

    Steve asks: “If Romney objected to all these things why did he sign the bill into law?” Well, if Mitt had vetoed the bill, the Legislature would have drafted and passed a version even WORSE than the one that was enacted.

    Mitt’s point about how Romneycare was just one state’s attempt at reform is a valid one. If the people of Massachusetts want their legislature to enact a big-government “solution” to address the problem of the uninsureds, then that’s what they deserve and what they are going to get. The most Romney could do, under the circumstances, was to leverage what little power he had to make the end result as “conservative” as possible (which he did, according to the Heritage Foundation).

  22. Conrad Says:

    As Pat notes, Newt apparently embraced the individual mandate (at the federal level!) as a means of heading off something he thought would be worse: HillaryCare. I don’t see how this is any different from what Mitt did in supporting a somewhat more conservative HC reform in Massachusetts than the one that would have been enacted without his support. Arguably, Newt “crime against conservatism” was much worse, because (a) an individual mandate at the federal level violates the U.S. Constitution, and (b) Hillarycare WASN’T being backed by a majority of the American people (in contrast to RomneyCare, which was very popular in Mass.) Newt was in a much better position to argue against HillaryCare on the merits without legitimizing the individual mandate as an alternative to it.

  23. Artfldgr Says:

    (dont pay attention to the other hand)…

    On December 16, 2009, Obama officially altered President Reagan’s 1983 Executive Order 12425 (EO 12425) to give Interpol, the policing arm of the International Criminal Court (ICC), carte blanche to operate with impunity on American soil.

    Obama placed Interpol, whose past presidents have included members of the Nazi SS, beyond the reach of law enforcement, the FBI, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. By signing EO 12425, Obama made all Interpol property and assets immune from search, discovery, and confiscation, affording no recourse or protection for American citizens from Interpol abuse. Thus, with Interpol above the U.S. Constitution and American law enforcement authority, U.S. citizens on American soil could potentially be secretly arrested.

    With SO MANY things one can bring up, the candidates wont, and yet, no one will get that they are going to throw the game given all the tax bombs that go off in 2012 as well…

    The idea that international law now supersedes constitutional law has completely been ignored, nor considered (and that chess piece was placed in 2009, and no one pays attention to the large array of pieces arranged)

    The Art of Honest Deception

    …..instinctive and violent reaction to being fooled occurred because the spectators did not understand, and therefore could not enjoy, the principles in the art of honest deception. Since all deception employs the same basic methods, you should know what they are. Not only will your pleasure in witnessing magical performances be increased, but you will be able to guard against dishonest attempts to fool you.

    leading to

    The coin did not vanish because the hand is quicker than the eye. The hand is slicker, not quicker, than the vision of spectators. Magic is successful because it is nine-tenths simple distraction. Your attention is cleverly misdirected. It is your own brain that deceives you.

    You do not see with your eyes alone, but with your brain and mind, which sorts out the confusion of outlines and colors, and forms them into definite, understandable images. Because the mind has so very much to do with what is being observed, deception is made possible.

    Your mind is a censor. If you see two men–one twenty feet away from you and the other forty–your eyes tell you, falsely, that one man is only half the height of the other. Your intellect, however, corrects this erroneous impression. The mind, on the other hand, has the habit of building up familiar objects and individuals on the basis of a fleeting glance or a vague impression. If you happen to see a friend, for example, passing through a doorway, you may actually see only a familiar hat or ear or shoulder. But your mind fills out the incomplete picture, and you say to yourself: “That’s Mr. Smith!” Usually you are right, but sometimes you are wrong.

    this doesn’t just apply to the visual field, it also applies to news, and other things. like actions that don’t seem to make any sense or have any real need at a time, then forgotten, come into force a long time later after other things are in front of your perception. the only way to avoid it, is to not get sucked into the meaningless stuff you have little influence or control of, and to remember and watch what is happening outside that noisy up front entertainment dog and pony show.

    As a result of this mental habit details are not observed. Most men cannot tell you whether the numbers on their watches are Roman or Arabic, whether all twelve numbers are present, or whether the manufacturer’s name is in view. Unimportant matters, despite clear observation, are not registered in the consciousness.

    there are lots of techniques being used and easily evident, just as magic to another magician is a different experience than an ignorant audience member enthralled by the experience and exhilaration of being (safely) fooled (or conned).

    We see what we expect to see, and it is difficult to recognize anything we are not prepared to encounter. If we ran across a polar bear in a field near Chicago, we would likely recognize it as a large white boulder–until it moved or we got close to it. But if we knew a bear had escaped from a circus and we were searching for it, we might at first identify a rock as a bear.

    By politically doing whats not to be done, they accomplish what we most dislike, because unprepared to see it, we dont see it.

    Chance favors the prepared mind -Louis Pasteur

    Most popular ideas about the trade of all tricks are false. When a magician tells you there is nothing up his sleeve but his elbows, he generally means it. Sleeves are seldom, if ever, used in accomplishing an illusion. The same is true about the use of mirrors, and as for trapdoors in the stage floor–they went out with the gas lamp. The more intelligent you are, the easier it is to deceive you; it is more difficult to mystify children than adults. Finally, the closer you are to the performer and the more carefully you watch his movements, the more likely you’ll gasp with astonishment when his mystery is completed.

    All that comes into play in politics too. the closer (or more enamored by a side) you are to the candidate, the less you see that they are doing that you wont approve of (And even less you will see if you dont want or are not ready to see).

    this kind of knowledge of how to control or get (material) persons to act, is all part of social engineering! (who invented that research for that purpose?)

    It is difficult to mystify children and mental defectives because their general knowledge is limited, and their attention cannot be distracted or misdirected by suggestions of factors they do not understand. Never be ashamed if you are fooled; only your intelligence is proved.

    ah… so people with autism, and other conditions may not be able to be distracted as the social cues that distract others don’t distract them as they are not perceived. in their minds the censor is not working, and they have to think about what to ignore and what to see. in a way, they see clearer than neurotypical people believe they do. 🙂 (they also have different goals, like truth over their own status or others perception of them)

    Let us suppose that the performer is causing a ball to float in the air. He refers to the powers of magnetism and cosmic energy; he suggests that mental radiations may be the answer. The adults present in his audience have heard that such powers and factors exist. They may not believe his suggestions, but their attention has been directed away from the natural and obvious, and they seek a complex solution. The children, however, are paying no attention to his remarks. They are looking for the thread that is holding the ball up, and if the performer is not careful they finally see it.

    Call it the emperors new clothes effect…

    but its not just intelligence… its also knowledge. engineers don’t enjoy magic, nor do theoretical physicists as much as women’s studies students might. as they know the principals behind the things that may be used to distract, so in a way, knowledge of how the world works and competency there, also negates or inoculates against much foolery. (by the way the more intelligent and imaginative are easier to hypnotize, contrary to most beliefs)

    [edited for length by n-n]

  24. T Says:

    off topic to rickl,

    1/20 @9:26 pm you asked me for a citation regarding my Eisenhower/Patton v Romney/Gingrich parallels (specifically as to the import of Patton’s relief to the city of Bastogne). Coincidentally the following article was cited just today in RealClear Politics so I thought I’d pass it on.


  25. DNW Says:

    Off the top of my head, I think that one could make at least a tepid defense of Romney on the grounds of a traditional Federalist interpretation.

    While I believe the individual mandate at any government level to be unacceptably coercive, unjustifiable on the basis of any valid political community claims, and a violation of fundamental rights, nonetheless, the Federal Constitution system despite all its progressive Bill of Rights incorporations, historically recognized as reserved to the States a certain sovereignty – especially in police powers which include health and welfare.

    So although many of the direct social welfare intrusions by the Federal Government into the lives of Federal citizens clearly have no valid historical basis in law (maritime pensions notwithstanding) , some plausible basis for the states as the laboratories of democracy to explore various health and welfare options for their citizens could be argued.

    But of course for the left all this is irrelevant anyway, since on their conception, dual federalism is a long dead letter, and we no longer inhabit a mere formal and legal polity which we have now “evolved beyond”, but a “society”: composed of contributing “social elements” which have granted not inherent rights, are properly subject to management and expert direction for the greater good as construed by the bureaucratic class, and etc. etc.

  26. T Says:

    In the wake of DNW’s comment above may I suggest the following from Walter Russell Mead?


    Although not directly election related, Mead places liberalism (and conservatism) in a historical framework that that clearly relates to our Mitt v Newt discussions. In short, Mead believes that we are not really looking at a struggle of liberalism v. conservatism, but at “blue” liberalism v. “red” liberalism. I suggest that his thoughts set an important framework for the discussions we’ve been having here and highlight a point of view that we’re all overlooking.

  27. Don Carlos Says:

    Baklava @ 1:09AM-
    The trouble with saving Fire In The Belly, holding it in reserve for the post-nomination campaign, is that it may not be there. It hasn’t been shown, and to assume it is there, just held in reserve, is to buy into the HopeChange, buy a pig in a poke con game.
    This is not a time for cerebral, chin-stroking methods. This is a desperate time.

  28. Oldflyer Says:

    “Fire in the belly”. No thanks, I want a President who leads with coolness and sound judgement. Not one whose claim to fame is his ability to rant against enemies.

    Newt’s niche is political philosopher and gadfly. I wish he would recognize the facts.

    With regard to Romney’s campaign, I suspect that Mitt, who is a pretty experienced campaigner, has decided that defending himself is neither effective, nor required. I believe that he has felt that his organizational superiority would carry him through the nomination. Is that a wise strategy? I don’t know, nor do the multitude who are second guessing it. I grind my teeth at the media talking heads who have never run for anything more significant than 6th grade class VP, but know all about how campaigns should be conducted.

    I believe that the tax return issue illustrates how futile it is for him to try to defend himself to those whose prejudices have solidified. Romney gave 42% of his income to the government, or to charity; but, that has not quieted the crowd that hates him for his success. No matter how many times it is reported that he gave away his entire inheritance, and that all of his wealth was earned, it has no effect on closed minds.

    Now, that the media is slobbering over Newt, and Newt is riding the wave of his–and our– anger, it will be interesting to see how Romney reacts. Well, we have some indications that he will turn the artillery on Newt, rather than mount a personal defense.

    Interesting to see this morning that the Golden Boy, Rubio, is attacking Newt in Romney’s defense. Eventually, one would think that as more and more conservative Icons side with Romney, it would have some effect.

  29. Artfldgr Says:

    The Conservatives owed their victory to the deep dissatisfaction of the Hungarians with the Social-Democrat MSZP which led the country since 2002 and has bankrupted its economy.

    The MSZP is the successor of the former Communist Party which ruled Hungary until the end of the communist dictatorship in 1989.

    As in many other East European countries, the Communists rebranded themselves as Social Democrats. …the MSZP was welcomed into the international networks of the West European social democrat parties

    The Communists’ rebranding tactics seemed to have worked. From 1994 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2010, the Hungarians voted the former Communists back into power.

    the MSZP had won the elections by deliberately concealing how dramatic the economic situation in the country was. The leaking of the tape led to protest demonstrations by thousands of Hungarians who felt cheated by a party that had simply camouflaged its dictatorial core with democratic theatrics.

    whats in one place can be in another place
    what has happened, cant be impossible

    but alas, the people here and in general, have no idea of the games, labels, and such that ARE played regularly as the go on pretending they are not in such a game themselves (despite all the copying their leaders are blatantly doing, and even giving fealty and personal introspection to, like dunns telling us she admires Mao and Mother Theresa)

    there is a lot more at….

    God Bless the Hungarians

  30. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    Individual mandate? here’s a clue: let me put on my steel-toed boots before I kick them to the curb.

    The difference between them is that ORomney hasn’t backed off on it, and essentially will leave OBamney Care in place, and Newt is wavering on it.

  31. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    The “it” being the individual mandate.

  32. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    Artfldgr, I’ve seen reports that the Romanians are also up in arms over their mostly bankrupt government. I’m guessing it is for the same/similar reasons.

  33. Artfldgr Says:

    ANd just to make clear…

    Obama is a Social Democrat, Not a Socialist

    and the social democrats are communists in sheeps clothing… which is why obama thinks he has a Sovereign Presidency

    “The president is the sovereign ruler of this country,” Toady asserted. “Where he goes and what he does is solely at his discretion. He does not have to answer to the demands of lower ranking authorities. He has what is called ‘sovereign immunity.’”
    Edward Toady, lead attorney for the president

    Sovereign democracy

    Putin’s ‘sovereign democracy’ looks familiar
    Putin’s near-autocratic power resembles the old Soviet Union to opponents


    The Moscow Times
    Limiting Russia’s Sovereign Democracy
    According to Russia’s doctrine of “sovereign democracy,” the West shouldn’t meddle in Russia’s internal affairs. But the post-World War II paradigm governing international law dictates that gross human rights abuses are a global concern.

    Putin’s ‘Sovereign Democracy’

    Obama Administration Claims “Sovereign Immunity”

    the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on:

    (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and

    (2) a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope…


    The Obama administration has strongly sided with the Vatican in an Oregon sex-abuse lawsuit which names the Holy See as a defendant, insisting that the Vatican enjoys sovereign immunity and that the case does not rise to the level necessary to override such immunity.

    Obama’s National Security State

    The doctrine of sovereign immunity exists in two forms—one protecting foreign sovereigns from suits in our courts on the grounds that such suits could interfere with or undermine our relations with those foreign sovereigns.

    The other protects the government against its citizens, based on the ancient notion that the “king can do no wrong” and therefore cannot be challenged in the courts save with his permission. This is a perfectly fine legal principle—for an absolute monarchy or a totalitarian dictatorship.

    Democracies, however, have different rules. First among them is the idea that the government is accountable to its citizens. Another important principle is that no right is created without a vehicle for its enforcement. But in its submission on Friday, the Obama Justice Department repudiated these two fundamental principles, instead raising high the banner of tyrannical government.

    And given the Obama changes to the state through signing statements (in record quantities we dont pay attention while watching the ‘debates’)…

    What would/could happen if some conflict suddenly broke out in Iran, Korea, or several places (like riots a la Soros prediction the past few days)..

    well, suspension of the constitution and voting is in those signing statements… but that is only if the dog and pony show is somewhat real and taking power is whats needed, but if like hungary, the rebranding and role playing is whats real, it wont be needed… as collectively they colluded, reached across the aisles and played the subjects of a new sovereign state, for fools

    So if the president now is sovereign ruler, then the decrees breaking the “rule of law” make sense. he is king, and we are subjects, and while we discuss a condition that doesnt exist, they merrily play on…

  34. davisbr Says:

    Artfldgr: January 25th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I learned something (and recalled some things I used to know).

    Delightful, and I thank you.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    IRA Darth Aggie:

    Let me explore the “difference” you cite. You write:

    “The difference between them is that ORomney hasn’t backed off on it, and essentially will leave OBamney Care in place, and Newt is wavering on it.”

    Wrong, about a federal mandate. Do you not understand the difference between a mandate for Massachusetts (which the state’s legislators voted for almost unanimously, in a bill of which the people approved, and which is constitutional as a state function) and one for the entire nation? Romney does, and he has completely disavowed the second, the federal mandate (which he never even advocated in the first place!), over and over again (he has said he wants Obamacare repealed, and has said it many times recently). Gingrich not only advocated it, but he advocated it as recently as last May (and I believe, although I can’t find the link at the moment, even as recently as this past December). It also was something he had advocated for 20 years (unlike Romney): a federal mandate.

    So, I think the difference is clear, and it’s not the one you cite. Plus, I wonder why you think Gingrich’s most recent “wavering” is real rather than politically motivated.

  36. Conrad Says:

    I don’t have any concern over Romney’s supposed lack of “fire in the belly.” To me, FITB refers to a candidate’s desire to win. I’m not sure what other people are seeing, but I look at Mitt and see the candidate who far and away has exhibited the strongest desire to win. As a matter of fact, I don’t think any of the other three GOP contenders even got into the race to win. Ron Paul still isn’t in it to win. Newt and Rick both basically got in as dark horses intent on reviving their respective claims to national prominence.

    Everyone keeps pointing out that Romney has been running for POTUS continually for the last 6-7 years — well doesn’t that tell you something about the fire in his belly?

    If the concern is that Mitt doesn’t have the stomach for a fight with Obama (which is the conventional rap against McCain in 2008), I just don’t see the basis for anyone to say that. I hear him attacking BHO every day. Perhaps people disagree with the specific kinds of attacks he is making, but I don’t think it’s a credible assertion that Romney, like McCain, would be content simply to win the nomination of his party and then lose gracefully rather than risk sullying his reputation as a great American. That doesn’t sound like Mitt at all.

  37. Artfldgr Says:

    I R A Darth Aggie
    here is a bit more before i maybe talk about romania.. thanks for reading!

    the Hungarian parliament adopted a new constitution. Its preamble is an ode to traditional values, patriotism, the family and freedom.


    Although there is a strong case to be made for a woman’s pregnancy not being in the purview of governments but a private matter between her physician and her, the Hungarian constitution protects human life from the moment of conception and, even though same-sex couples may legally register their partnership, defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The country’s name is also changed from “Hungarian Republic” to “Hungary,” and although Hungary remains a republic, the preamble contains references to the Holy Crown of King Stephen, the first king of Hungary.


    “We do not recognize the Communist constitution of 1949 because it has served as a foundation of tyrannical rule. For this reason that legislation is hereby invalid.”


    Referring to the damage done by four decades of Communist rule, the constitution says that Hungary has “an eminent need of spiritual renewal since last century’s developments have undermined moral values.”

    The New York based NGO Human Rights Watch criticized the Hungarian constitution, saying that it “could lead to efforts to overturn Hungary’s abortion law and result in restrictions on abortion that would put a number of fundamental rights for women at stake.” It also complained that, by defining marriage as a bond between a man and a woman, the constitution “denies LGBT people access to state protection for their families and relationships, and is inconsistent with Hungary’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union Charter on Fundamental Rights.”

    Funny how the left socialist cadre here works to keep the things that were given to here to make it left socialist cadre…

    “A world where men and women would be equal is easy to visualize, for that precisely is what the Soviet Revolution promised.” – Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (New York, Random House, 1952), p.806

    Funny how the soviet states, and communist states today have almost no women other than tokens running things, and have women as work slaves (as they are more docile and compliant and less competitive than men… shhhh we are not supposed to know that)

    and when a ex soviet state finally cleans house, they dont keep feminism, but throw out the toxic things that they gave us..

    why wont they drink the same ambrosia?

    why when free is that one of the first things they get rid of?

    or on the opposite end…

    why when power is consolidated is that one of the first things to get rid of?

    Perhaps they know why it was created for people who dont know why, know the leaders desires, and even now, are using it to buy the votes (As in germany) of women to game an election..

    Hungary has also angered the liberal elites in the West by curbing judicial activism. To this end the retirement age for judges has been lowered from 70 to 62 and the president of the Supreme Court is required to have at least five years’ Hungarian judicial experience. This eliminates the incumbent who served for 17 years in the activist European Court of Human Rights.

    seems to me that to remove communism is to remove the stuff that they normalized (Stalins term to make the abnormal SEEM normal through excuses and familiarity over time), that we are now promoting in a hurry to complete Obama idea of CHANGE…

    With regard to the economy, the new Hungary has introduced a flat tax of 19% and has capped the budget deficit to a maximum of 3% of GDP.

    flat tax? religion back? sanctity of life back? and so on and so on..

    seems that the process of decommunization is the process that americans talk about needing to do here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In the European Parliament, Orbán was attacked for violating the fundamental values of democracy and freedom. Liberals, Greens and Socialist said that the new Hungarian constitution is an undemocratic document. Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt, and Green group leader Daniel Cohn Bendit both called on the EU to suspend Hungary’s voting rights in the EU Council because its constitution is a “serious and persistent breach” of EU principles. Cohn Bendit, a former Communist, said that Orbán behaved the same way as Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Socialist group leader Hannes Swoboda said that Orbán is destroying the very freedoms that the Hungarian people fought for.

    and all the left socialist communist anarchist etc… are all banding together to force them to change things back to the things the communists and rebranded social democrats created…


    What does that say about the SAME things here given to us by the same people following the same thinkers and adhering to the same ideology? ?

  38. neo-neocon Says:

    Conrad and Oldflyer: when I mention “fire in the belly,” I’m talking about conveying firmness and passion (of the political kind!); in other words, affect. I agree with Conrad about Romney’s determination, but if he can’t convey it effectively many people feel something’s missing.

  39. neo-neocon Says:

    gellieba: do you understand the meaning of federalism? Something tells me that perhaps you don’t.

  40. Conrad Says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Neo, but I’m still at a loss to understand the perception of some that Romney doesn’t sufficiently convey firmness and passion. I get the sense that people are inferring in Mitt a lack of conviction in conservative principles based on his record, but I don’t detect anything in his overall presentation that would suggest to someone unfamiliar with his record that he is notably deficient in this area. Of course, this stuff can be failry subjective.

  41. gellieba Says:

    Romney had no business to impose me to get health care coverage in Massachusetts (and to punish me if I do not). The Supeme Court will rule soon on this issue. We shall see.

    This was a mistake and this is one of many reasons Romney will not be the nominee.

  42. davisbr Says:

    Now I have to request a citation: can someone point me to where Romney has advocated/supported the repeal of Obamacare (it would be nice to know on what grounds, too).

    Never mind: got it.

    Well, that took too long (my first search this morning was coming up a Romney advisor who recently mentioned that Romney did NOT support the repeal of Obamacare: Mitt’ needs to fire that guy immediately).

    …and so no, I didn’t know that that Romney was finally supporting repeal of Obamacare – however recently that appears to be – which removes at least one of the “bitter pills” I was expecting to have to swallow in the fall (should Romney have prevailed in the primaries). Good.

    (I was aware that Mitt’ had been supporting “waivers” …which I found one of those disturbingly typical Romneyesque dissimulations. Screw waivers: the constitution did not grant Congress the power to make laws requiring citizens to pay for the air we breathe.)

    As for Newt’s conversion to the repeal side – regardless of this being marginally earlier last year (and by not enough to matter) – means this is no longer a primaries signifier as far as I’m concerned.

    (Not that I don’t expect both campaigns and their supporters to continue to hammer the other about it: I do. What nonsense; I just want them to clearly state their opposition, and I’m good.)

    To my point: there is no current constitutional basis for the so-called individual mandate (and I don’t give a crap about how the Supremes finally adjudicate this, on severability or by stretching 10th or 14th or whatever-in-hell …I don’t always trust some/most of them to make sound legal arguments based upon the Constitution …legal penumbras my a$$). Period.

    The individual mandate is currently unconstitutional, and I cannot believe the citizens of this country will ever approve a constitutional amendment that would give such power to the legislative or executive branches of the federal government.

    Inasmuch as this kind of specious nonsense is not specifically granted to the federal government in any form, that it may – may, mind you – place it in within the purview of the individual states to use such an artifical and dissembling construct (to wit: the Massachussetts example), it may indeed be left to the tender mercies of the federal judicial system to decide whether such a concept is unconstitutional inasmuch as it curtails constitutionally defined individual rights (that the individual and several states may NOT abridge). I’ll take that chance.

    …which would have been reason enough for me, at the least, to have fled that state (if firing every sob who voted for such an offense of legislation proved unsuccessful). I’ve both read and understood the background, and I give no credit to then Gov. Romney for participating in that abortion of conscience …save for his various, mitigating vetos (at this point I’m hazy on the details, so don’t ask …it wasn’t ALL his fault by any stretch).

    It is worse than unfortunate that bureaucrats and technocrats feel that the imposition such “penumbric” manipulations by such means as the proposed individual mandate – at the expense of enumerated rights, Congressional power, and the checks and balances provisions of the US Constitution – is the less onerous path to such an imposition upon the citizenry. It’s even worse when the citizenry let them get away with it (we have met the enemy, and he is us).

    If the legislation was clearly a tax, and truthfully labeled as such, we’d be screwed. I get that. But it wasn’t. The Democrats lied about it, to – they hoped – get it past a huge bloc of their consituency …who would have by no means accepted such an additional tax burden AS a tax.

    The individual mandate concept (once I came to understand the implications) is one of those “may you roast in hell” kinds of things to me (and I’d hope, for you).

  43. expat Says:


    I hope you are also making the point that your representatives and fellow MA citizens have also violated your rights. Those at the top wouldn’t be able to impose laws upon you without their support.

  44. neo-neocon Says:

    gellieba: it appears that not only do you not understand federalism, but you do not understand that the legislature passes laws. The Mass health care legislation was passed almost unanimously, by the way.

  45. Artfldgr Says:

    Rom knows that at the state level the feds can withold huge amounts of cash and reimbursments until every state has what the feds want given the way that they do that.
    so the idea that its constitutional at the state level is a farce given that the states no longer operate the way the constitition intended… a progressive change…

    so it makes no real difference whether it comes from fed or state once the fed controls state through financial blackmail…

    its like claiming jon gotti is not guilty of murder because he didnt do the dirty things, but had others do it.

  46. gellieba Says:


    no further comments

  47. Baklava Says:

    expat, you said it. The parallels between Obama and Newt are striking.

    We all want the universities/colleges to cut the crap. They are charging to much for a weaker and weaker education.

    He has these lines focus group tested!

    What are the ACTUAL proposals??? More big government.

    How about letting the free market let colleges get less money so that colleges have to actually start competing smartly

  48. Baklava Says:

    Don Carlos,

    I’ll agree with you. But Newt’s fire in the belly is on EVERY issue.

    Save it for the 3 issues at most. The 3 proposals or the 3 problems/solutions to the problems.

    He’s got the fire in the belly for 999 issues and almost every question posed by every moderator.

    It isn’t helpful.

  49. Baklava Says:

    Do you know what I’m looking for?

    Effectiveness in Communicating

    EIC 🙂

  50. Don Carlos Says:

    It will behoove us to understand the frustrations of the gelliebas instead of talking down to them.

  51. Greta Says:

    Romney is not a conservative and has a huge problem effectively making the vast majority of people accept that simple fact. He has had huge amounts of money, has run now a second time for president, and still can’t get conservatives who care about things like the pro life cause and family values to believe him. He loses 75% of the vote to other candidates all because they are not Romney. When I view his video while running for senate on his pro abortion views, he clearly shows someone with a deep and profound belief in the destruction of babies than he has ever shown me in supporting life. He comes across too much as “if this is what you want to hear, I will say it loud and repeat it over and over, what more do you want” attitude that I do not trust. I don’t want a Rino for our nominee. I never believed that McCain was really a died in the wool true beliving conservative that would go to the mat for our values. Dole might have, but he had trouble putting it out to excite anyone. I do not think Bush 41 was really a conservative and much influenced by his wife who was clearly not a cosnervative. Read my lips became a lie.
    Many of us believe Newt has learned from his mistakes and that he has ideas that deserve to be tried to give us smaller government. We also see his conversion to the Catholic faith and deep study of Pope John Paul II will give him a strong conviction to put small government pro life judges in place. The more we hear from Newt with his obvious passion, the more we grow to believe and resent those who we do not see caring about life and family attacking him and forcing Romney down our throats.

    If the Republicans want a third party and lose of power forever, continue to show disdain for those who are supporting Newt as if we are stupid. I think this post says ‘listen up you dumb clucks, don’t you understand we don’t like Newt.” guess what, your choice. Push Romney and there can be not doubt that you could care less if the conservative base leaves.

  52. gellieba Says:

    Thank you very much for your post. It is refreshing to see someone else expressing a different opinion about Romney meaning supporting ABR.
    The Ann Coulter’ crowd is well represented on this blog.
    I never thought that I will be leaving the R party but the idea of a new movement representing the real people (who did not vote for Obama), who are sick and tired of the ruling class, the RNC is really starting to grow in my head.
    A Massachusetts resident stucks with RomneyCare
    authored by Romney and his body Kennedy.
    PS: Santorum had a very good debate last night attacking Romney on RomneyCare (ObamaCare).

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    […]neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Dueling individual mandates: Newt and Mitt[…]…

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