Over the weekend, Mitt Romney struggled hard to achieve his life goal of “most dishonest politician of all time.” He continues to obfuscate about what his tax plan would actually do, and he took a shockingly dishonest position on health care with respect to pre-existing conditions on national TV, only to have statements from his campaign walk it way, way back in the next few hours.
First, health care. You know how, throughout this campaign, Romney’s number 1 priority has been to “abolish” Obamacare, “root and branch”? Well, not so fast. See, Romney told America on Meet the Press this weekend that he wants to keep the popular stuff like ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance, like letting people keep their adult children on their insurance policies, and like enabling individuals to buy insurance rather than going through their employers (i.e., insurance exchanges, a key part of Obamacare).
Surprised? I was too. But here he is:
Now, guess what? That’s not actually what he meant. Subsequent statements from his campaign, emailed around to wonky reporters, “clarified” that Romney was just restating the position that he has long held, which is that insurers can’t exclude people with pre-existing conditions, as long as they maintain “continuous coverage.”
OK, two problems. First, that’s been the law since 1996 under HIPAA, so it’s really not a plan at all. Second, that “plan” excludes something like 89 million Americans. The point of the Obamacare reform was to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions who are now unable to obtain affordable health insurance. Romney’s plan clearly does not do that. But he didn’t mention that on TV. I wonder why?
Of course, as Romney well knows, the health insurers will not go along with real pre-existing condition protection without an individual mandate. Which is the deal struck in Romneycare in Massachusetts. Which Romney has disavowed as a national plan. The dishonesty is simply staggering. It’s really unfortunate that, at that juncture, ace interviewer David Gregory apparently accepted what Romney said at face value and moved on to Medicare. One hopes this gets thrown in Romney’s face in a big way at the debates.
Next, taxes. It’s been pointed out time and time again that Romney absolutely refuses to say what he actually wants to do to the tax code. Will he repeal the home mortgage deduction? Cut way back on the charitable giving deductions? ’Cause that’s where the money is. He simply won’t say. Again, the prevarication is mind-boggling. The Obama campaign put together a nice connection of clips from the weekend news shows.
Meanwhile, the most sophisticated polling analyst out there, Nate Silver of 538, says that “the polling movement that we have seen over the past three days represents the most substantial shift that we’ve seen in the race all year, with the polls moving toward Mr. Obama since his convention.” So, expect Team Romney to repeatedly press the panic button, with the dishonesty continuing to fly at ever-increasing velocity. The big question is whether the media is able to keep up with it.