Romney takes Huckabee’s heat over healthcare

ROMNEY TAKES HUCKABEE’S HEAT OVER HEALTHCARE…. During the 2008 presidential elections, former Govs. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney didn’t exactly get along, but the Arkansan never seemed especially interested in going after the Massachusetts health care reform law. It just wasn’t much of a factor in the race.

Three years later, with both men considering the 2012 race, Huckabee has discovered he hates “RomneyCare” after all, and wants the former Massachusetts governor to apologize for his only major policy accomplishment.

“It could be argued that if RomneyCare were a patient, the prognosis would be dismal,” Huckabee writes in his new book, A Simple Government.

Huckabee, who said yesterday that he is “seriously contemplating” another run for president, also points to the similarities between Romney’s plan in Massachusetts and President Obama’s plan for the nation.

“Ever since the debate over [Obama’s] program began, it’s been compared to RomneyCare, the failed statewide health-care program implemented by none other than my fellow GOP member Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts,” Huckabee writes, under a heading, “The States as Laboratories: When Experiments Fail” “Any critical assessment of this program will show that it failed … and yet the Obama administration decided to emulate it in its pursuit of a national health-care program.”

Reinforcing the fact that Huckabee struggles with basic details about public policy, the former Arkansas governor added that Romney’s policy constitutes “socialized medicine,” which is absurd. (I know ol’ Huck isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he should at least learn what socialized medicine is before writing about it.) His assessment of the policy in Massachusetts isn’t close to being accurate, either.

But the ongoing area of interest is the response from the Romney camp. Asked about Huckabee’s criticism, Romney’s spokesperson said, “Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered.” He added that Romney still wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

I continue to find it ironic that Romney has flip-flopped on practically every issue I can think of, but the one position he’s inclined to stick to is the one the GOP base finds wholly unacceptable.

The fact of the matter is, for all the right-wing hysterics about the Affordable Care Act being radical communism, the health care reform law is awfully similar to the reform package Romney championed in Massachusetts.

It was Romney’s signature accomplishment during his one term as governor — his only experience in public office — and at the time, his success on health care cast Romney in a positive light. And why not? It demonstrated his ability to tackle major policy challenges and work with members of both parties to pass a sensible, mainstream legislative milestone. It was the sort of thing a governor can build a presidential campaign around.

This was fine in 2008, when the individual mandate was still a Republican idea, and Romney faced practically no criticism at all. It’s not fine in 2011 and 2012, now that GOP officials and voters no longer like their idea.