The sole accomplishment Romney can’t brag about

THE SOLE ACCOMPLISHMENT ROMNEY CAN’T BRAG ABOUT…. Gallup reports today on which states have the highest and lowest rates of residents without health care coverage. The results should cause one presidential hopeful to boast, but won’t. (via Ezra Klein)

Here’s the best states in the country for the lowest rates of uninsured:

1. Massachusetts, 4.7% uninsured
2. Connecticut, 9.9% uninsured
3. Minnesota, 10.5% uninsured
4. Hawaii, 10.6% uninsured
5. Pennsylvania, 11% uninsured
5. Vermont, 11% uninsured

Texas and Louisiana are at the other end, with roughly a fourth of state residents going without coverage.

There’s obviously a regional imbalance here, with “blue” states in the Northeast faring very well, and “red” states in the South struggling badly. But what’s especially interesting here is not just that Massachusetts is leading the nation, it’s out in front by a significant margin.

This isn’t an accident. It’s the direct result of Mitt Romney’s health care policy, which was ultimately duplicated by President Obama at the national level, and which has made Massachusetts the national leader on bringing residents into the system.

Except, as Greg Sargent explained, you won’t hear the Romney camp bragging about any of this today.

People forget this, but Romneycare was initially supposed to be one of Mitt’s tickets to national office. Of course, that was before Obama passed a plan containing the individual mandate, leading many conservative to decide that the mandate is the greatest threat to American liberty since King George the Third. Now what was originally one of his greatest accomplishments is suddenly one of his greatest liabilities, and Romney needs to figure out how to explain the fact that thanks to his leadership, the state he presided over now ranks lowest in the nation in the rate of the uninsured.

At a certain point all you can do is marvel at how topsy turvy the debate has become.

Yep, this 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 at all fine in 2011 and 2012, now that GOP officials and voters no longer like their idea.

And so today’s Gallup report is great news for a presidential hopeful, which he hopes no one will notice.