Since the 2012 campaign will never end, apparently, Mitt Romney launched a Facebook attack at President Obama and Obamacare on Wednesday. He was provoked: The president will travel to the site of Romney's signature legislative accomplishment to point out that even Romneycare got off to a slow start.
Obama will speak at 4 p.m. Wednesday from Boston's Faneuil Hall where, in 2006, then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law the health care expansion that became his biggest policy accomplishment. (So much so that it appears in his official gubernatorial portrait.) According to the Associated Press, Obama will compare the launch of Obamacare's health insurance exchanges to the slow pace of engagement under Massachussetts' law.
The White House said Obama planned to point out Massachusetts' sluggish start Wednesday. Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor who advised both Romney and Obama on the development of their laws, said only 123 paying consumers signed up the first month of the Massachusetts law, with 36,000 coming on by the time penalties kicked in for failing to have insurance.
"That same kind of outcome will happen at the national level, but it will take time," Gruber said in a media call previewing the trip organized by the White House.
This is not how Romney wants his legacy to be remembered. (Now that the 2012 campaign is over, he is again ready to have it be remembered.) Echoing Sarah Palin, Romney took to Facebook to try and frame Obama's speech before it happens.
In the years since the Massachusetts health care law went into effect nothing has changed my view that a plan crafted to fit the unique circumstances of a single state should not be grafted onto the entire country. Beyond that, had President Obama actually learned the lessons of Massachusetts health care, millions of Americans would not lose the insurance they were promised they could keep, millions more would not see their premiums skyrocket, and the installation of the program would not have been a frustrating embarrassment.
That "grafted onto the entire country" line, as we've noted in the past, isn't exactly reflective of Romney's past positions. The clip from CNN, at right, highlights how Romney tip-toed between advocating for his law and criticizing the president's during last year's campaign. But his message was clear: Massachusetts' law can provide guidance. Own the good parts, disavow the bad.
The most effective line in Romney's message may be its closing one, that the state was "carefully phasing it in to avoid the type of disruptions we are seeing nationally." In other words, Romneycare was meant to be unveiled slowly. It's a rejection of the president's apparent argument that Massachusetts started slowly; Romney's implying that the slow start was intentional to ensure that it wouldn't be glitchy. As WBUR radio reported earlier this month, the truth lies in the middle. The state underestimated sign-up needs, and lawmakers consistently had to approve larger budget allocations to meet the needs of the program.
But over the long term, it worked. Suggesting that we might, six years from now, see a Facebook post from former president Barack Obama on Facebook testily defending his launch, glitches long forgotten, from the grasps of President Cruz.