President Barack Obama spoke at a rally in Boston on Wednesday in an attempt to use the backdrop of Mitt Romney’s home state to reinforce the case for Obamacare. Obama cited his 2012 Republican rival’s signature policy achievement as Massachusetts governor. In 2010, however, Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to the Senate to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in a strong protest against Obamacare.
That victory convinced many Democrats that it would be better to abandon the Obamacare effort, or at least try for a more incremental change to the health insurance system. But Obama ignored the Brown victory, and Democrats–deprived of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate by Brown’s victory–began searching for new procedural tricks to pass the law, including “deem-and-pass” and using budget reconciliation rules.
Romney aides dismissed the president’s attempts to equate Obamacare and Romneycare, noting that the Massachusetts policy covered a much smaller group of people in a state with some of the country’s most cutting-edge hospitals. Romney’s policy was also crafted in a bipartisan fashion, whereas Obama ignored suggestions for changes by Republicans. And, aides added, Romneycare did not have major technical issues.
Massachusetts has experienced some problems with Romneycare, including rising costs, longer wait times for physicians, and the fact that some people remain uninsured. That experience, combined with skepticism of Obamacare, drove voters to the polls to elect Scott Brown. Obama was not interested in listening to them, or learning from their experience, in 2010–but is eager to use their state to save his ailing program today.