Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) stepped up his criticism of GOP presidential primary front-runner Mitt Romney on CBS’ Face The Nation this morning, slamming Romney for providing “the basis” for the Affordable Care Act when he signed a comprehensive health reform law while he was governor of Massachusetts.
In addition to providing a model for national health care reform, RomneyCare is to blame for raising taxes, rising health care costs, and, worst of all, Santorum said, an individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance. That, Santorum said, represented a government intrusion into health care that he never has and never could support:
SANTORUM: Gov. Romney’s plan, as much as he’d like to say it’s not, was the basis of Obamacare. He was for an individual mandate, he was for government top-down control of the health care system in Massachusetts. And it’s led to the highest cost health care in the nation in Massachusetts, it’s led to higher taxes. … It is an absolute disaster. [...]
He would not have the clear record that I have…of being for government out of the health care business, being for a plan that is bottom-up, private sector health care reform. Unlike other folks in this race, I’ve had a consistent record over that time of not being for individual mandates. … He has been for individual mandates, I have not.
As Igor Volsky reported last week, however, Santorum supported an individual health insurance mandate during his 1994 Senate campaign, shortly after a host of Senate Republicans had offered the mandate as an alternative to President Clinton’s health reform plan.
And aside from the fact that RomneyCare did lay the groundwork for the Affordable Care Act — Romney repeatedly touted his plan as a national model before the ACA passed — Santorum’s criticisms are largely off-base. Massachusetts’ health costs are rising, but at rates comparable to the national average, and the cost of some premiums has fallen dramatically. Meanwhile, the state has the lowest uninsured rate in the nation, with just 4.7 percent of Bay Staters lacking health insurance.
By: Travis Waldron, Think Progress, January 15, 2012
I was surprised by his assassination. I didn’t see the Poor People’s Campaign as the threat to Washington and the Establishment that I now see it was. We feared for Dr. King’s life more in the early Sixties, through 1963, than we did by 1968. Up through 1965, there was a civil-rights-related death every couple of months, though most of them didn’t make headlines. By the end of ’65, there was a lull in the killings, and I thought perhaps we were finally beyond all that.
In his last year, we worried about Dr. King’s health. He was working eighteen to twenty hours a day. He would stay up all night reading, talking, clowning – whatever he felt like doing – and then wake up at five-thirty raring to go. His wife used to say that he had a war on sleep.
We would tell him that it looked like he was going to be around for a long time, and he couldn’t possibly keep this pace up, because he was close to forty. But if you said anything, he’d brush you off. I could never argue with him anyway. He was a preacher. And whenever we argued, he’d get to preaching. You never won an argument because he would take off on flights of oratory, and you’d forget your point trying to listen to him.
The year he died was the year he felt he had to establish the agenda for America’s future. For fifteen years he’d been struggling with the issues of racism, poverty and war. He refused to be just a civil rights leader. He was a sensitive lover of people who saw his primary responsibility in the black community. By 1968, though, it was clear to him that the black community could not concern itself with civil rights issues alone. The country was spending billions of dollars in Vietnam, and he saw racism and war becoming ever more tied up into one big problem for this country.
It was a time of increasing desperation for him. The SCLC had a fraction of the budget it should have had, about $700,000, and a small staff of fifty people, trying to take on the problems of the urban North, as well as the South, which still had large pockets of resistance. Not only weren’t we getting any aid from the federal government, but we had legions of FBI agents tracking us down, harassing us, trying to disrupt the work we were doing – work which I thought was the only thing that was giving America a fighting chance to survive.
The dangerous times when we were together were always the times he was most humorous. For years we couldn’t go anywhere without FBI men following us around. Dr. King was philosophical about it and very friendly toward them. Every now and then, we would leave a meeting through another entrance – not to escape the car that trailed us, but to sneak up on them. Dr. King would say hello, introduce us and (we always gave them the benefit of the doubt) thank them for the “protection” they were giving us.
I think he would have been quite content to be pastor of the Riverside Church, maybe teach at a university or a seminary. He wanted to teach the philosophy of religion, which was the subject of his Ph.D. He turned down a chance for the presidency of the NAACP when he first came to Montgomery in 1954, because he wasn’t sure he wanted to become that involved in the growing civil rights movement.
But when the bus boycott came in ’55, he was pressed into action. He had to respond. He was just twenty-six, and he never had the time to be the fun-loving man that he really was. He made the cover of Time magazine only a couple of years after he finished his degree, and then he was a celebrity.
From that time on he felt the burden of the country, his people and the world on his shoulders. He accepted it, but he always said he would have liked to do something else. He felt responsible for America’s future and its survival because he said that nobody understands nonviolence except black Americans, and if America was going to learn to live with the rest of the world, we’d have to help her find a nonmilitary course. In his Nobel Peace Prize speech, in fact, Dr. King said that the choice was nonviolence or nonexistence. I think back sometimes to what this country would have been like without Dr. King. The South was an armed camp in the Forties and Fifties. The GI bill and better job opportunities had created the beginnings of a black middle class, and they were not going to tolerate oppression any further. The white forces of reaction were trying to resist the advance of this new black middle class.
Every black family in the South had a gun. My father was probably the least violent man I know, and yet there were at least four guns in our household. Had there been no Martin Luther King Jr., the southern part of the United States would have looked like Northern Ireland or Lebanon.
And yet Martin saw that blacks and whites did not hate each other. They were being forced down through history on a collision course. Martin Luther King straightened out that course. He made it possible for blacks and whites to move in a parallel course of development and work together by using the tactic and methodology of nonviolence. He did not blame the white man for the problems that blacks were having. He saw blacks and whites caught up in a situation that they didn’t create, that they inherited. He saw nonviolence as a means for bringing people to realize that they could work their way together out of the situation.
Dr. King never understood why J. Edgar Hoover couldn’t comprehend what he was doing. If you read Hoover’s FBI reports on the March on Washington speech, you realize that he never saw Dr. King’s vision of a New America. He saw a powerful, radical political voice trying to destroy the nation.
I didn’t know then, but I now think that there lies the indirect responsibility for his assassination. I don’t know if it can ever be pinned down, but there are so many client groups that did dirty jobs around and for official people. I think now that Dr. King’s assassination was directly related to the fear that officialdom had of his bringing large numbers of poor people to the nation’s capital, setting up tents, demanding some response from them.
By: Andrew Young, Rolling Stone, January 13, 2012. (This story is from the December 1, 1977 issue of Rolling Stone). Writing in 1977, the famed civil rights activist Andrew Young reflects on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King.
Mitt Romney was on the campaign trail in South Carolina yesterday, and brought up the issue he expects to ride into the White House: the U.S. economy. Unfortunately for the former governor, the message isn’t quite the same as it was a few months ago.
In his remarks [Friday], Romney also acknowledged the economy was getting better — something he has said before….
“And [President Obama]’s going to say the economy is getting better,” Romney said. “Thank heavens it’s getting better. It’s getting better not because of him, it’s in spite of him and what he’s done.”
For those keeping track, Romney said twice in three sentences that he believes the economy is “getting better.”
I’ve noticed over the last week, this keeps coming up. Shortly before the New Hampshire primary, Romney said he’s “glad” the economy is improving, but quickly added that President Obama “doesn’t deserve” credit. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Romney also said the economy is recovering, but said “this president has not helped it.”
And in a debate for the Republican presidential candidates last weekend, Romney made his case this way:
“The president is going to try to take responsibility for things getting better. It’s like the rooster trying to take responsibility for the sun rising. He didn’t do it.”
I believe campaign professionals call this a “losing argument.”
Look, I don’t know whether the recovery will strengthen in 2012. The recent evidence has been mixed; experts’ projections vary widely; and the global threats to the economy remain real and hard to predict. There is, however, room for some optimism and Romney himself believes, in his words, economic conditions are “getting better.”
But as a campaign matter, if Romney is right about a strengthening recovery, he has to realize he’s going to lose. For the entirety of 2011, the former governor had a single message he repeated ad nauseum: Obama made a bad economy worse. It wasn’t true, but so long as the recovery was largely invisible, it was a message that could fool a lot of the people a lot of the time.
Two weeks into 2012, Romney has a new message: don’t give Obama credit for making the economy better. In effect, the Republican is arguing, “Sure, Obama inherited a deep recession. And sure, he took a bunch of steps to turn the economy around. And sure, we’re now seeing more jobs being created and more economic growth. But vote against him anyway.”
This isn’t just a tough sell; it’s an impossible one.
Look again at what Romney said in last weekend’s debate: “The president is going to try to take responsibility for things getting better. It’s like the rooster trying to take responsibility for the sun rising.”
By Romney’s own reasoning, the sun is rising and it’s morning in America. As Jon Chait put it, “This seems like a shockingly weak line — if you concede that it’s morning, you’ve lost the argument.”
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, January 14, 012
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had a little fun at the GOP leadership’s expense this week, mocking the Speaker and Majority Leader for their recent globetrotting. As Dems see it, these guys have more pressing matters at hand.
With House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor on separate overseas trips, Democrats are taking shots in their absence.
A new DCCC website — http://www.whereintheoworldisjohnboehner.com — pounces on the GOP leaders for their globetrotting during congressional recess, when Democrats say they ought be at work tax cut plan. Of course, globetrotting during congressional recess is a time-honored, bipartisan tradition, so the dig does lose some of its punch.
The House is scheduled to return next week and is expected to pick up where it left off — fighting over how to pay for a yearlong extension of the payroll tax break.
Boehner has been traveling in Latin America, with stops in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, while Cantor visited the Middle East, by way of Paris. (The image the Dems posted shows Cantor with a photoshopped beret in front of the Eiffel Tower.)
With Fox News and other Republicans raising a fuss last month over President Obama’s trip to Hawaii, I suppose it stands to reason that Dems are going to try to return the favor.
But I had a slightly different question: if the Speaker and Majority Leader are gallivanting around the world, doesn’t that mean Congress is in recess? Indeed, the L.A. Times report defended their travels by saying “globetrotting during congressional recess is a time-honored, bipartisan tradition.”
But I thought Republicans said Congress isn’t in recess?
For that matter, Eric Cantor’s own website told visitors this week that Congress “is not in session.”
It’s probably a tidbit to keep in mind during the debate over recess appointments.
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Politica Animal, January 14, 2012
The new biography “The Real Romney” provides evidence that Mitt Romney has repeatedly mischaracterized his mother’s position on abortion rights. A previously unreported Lenore Romney quote in the book sheds light on Mitt Romney’s convoluted and changing position on the issue, as well as his family’s.
Both Steve Kornacki and I have delved deep into the Romney’s evolution on the issue, including the story of a young relative of Romney who died during an illegal abortion, which Romney once cited as a reason for his being pro-choice. His flip-flop on abortion rights continues to be a political problem, with Newt Gingrich currently running ads attacking Romney for having been a “pro-abortion” governor of Massachusetts.
Before we get to the previously unreported quote from Romney’s mother, here’s the context. Back when Romney was running for Senate as a pro-choice challenger to Ted Kennedy in 1994, he invoked his mother’s position on the issue in a debate.
“I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country; I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate,” Romney said, adding:
“I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.” (Emphasis added.)
Romney again invoked his mother’s “bold and courageous” position in a 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial debate in which he said he was strongly in favor of preserving a woman’s right to choose.
“My position has been the same throughout my political career, and it goes back to the days of 1970,” he said. “There was a woman who was running for political office, U.S. Senate. She took a very bold and courageous stand in 1970, and that was in a conservative state. That was that a woman should have the right to make her own choice as to whether or not to have an abortion. Her name was Lenore Romney, she was my mom. Even though she lost, she established a record of courage in that regard.”
Romney’s claims about his mother later came under scrutiny when a Boston Globe columnist in 2005 interviewed people who were in the orbit of Lenore Romney’s 1970 Michigan Senate bid who had no memory of her being pro-choice. In response, Mitt Romney’s office dug up a campaign document from his mother’s campaign which stated:
“I support and recognize the need for more liberal abortion rights while reaffirming the legal and medical measures needed to protect the unborn and pregnant woman [sic].”
This was a few years before Roe v. Wade was decided, so that may well have been a progressive stance for the time. But, with its reference to protecting “the unborn,” it hardly seemed like a clear statement of support for legal abortion.
This is where the previously unreported Lenore Romney quote comes in. “The Real Romney” authors Michael Kranish and Scott Helman found a May 1970 story from a Owosso, Michigan, newspaper in which Lenore Romney says of the abortion issue:
“I think we need to reevaluate this, but do not feel it is simple as having an appendectomy. … I’m so tired of hearing the argument that a woman should have the final word on what happens to her own body. This is a life.”
If anything that statement — with its emphasis on women not having the final word — would most accurately be characterized as anti-choice. The irony is that Mitt Romney is now arguably closer to his mother’s actual 1970 position than he was when he ran as a pro-choice Senate candidate in 1994.
By: Justine Elliott, Salon, January 12, 2012