Mitt Romney: Obama 'fundamentally dishonest' about health insurance

Mitt Romney has pretty much kept quiet after losing in 2012. But on 'Meet the Press,' he unloaded on 'Obamacare,' which he continues to insist is nothing like 'Romneycare' in Massachusetts.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Former Massachusetts Gov., and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney pauses while speaking at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 15, 2013.

Mitt Romney hasn’t had a lot to say since his defeat in the presidential election last year. It must be busy work organizing those expensive residences – the Salt Lake Tribune says a new home being built in Utah will make it five – he and his wife Ann have in their post-political life.

But he unloaded on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday – particularly on health care insurance programs, which he essentially said President Obama is lying about.

“Perhaps the most important lesson the president, I think, failed to learn was, you have to tell the American people the truth,” Mr. Romney said. “And when he told the American people that you could keep your health insurance if you wanted to keep that plan, period, he said that time and again, he wasn't telling the truth. And I think that fundamental dishonesty has really put in peril the whole foundation of his second term.”

“Fundamental dishonesty” – not just being wrong but lying and then repeating the lie – is a hard charge, even for professional politicians. (One is reminded of the evil Francis Urquhart’s best-known quote in the BBC series “House of Cards:” “You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment.”)

Obama has had to backtrack (or “clarify,” in Washington parlance) on his claim that all Americans could keep their current health care plan if they so choose under the Affordable Care Act. Next to the devastating “glitches” in the sign-up site, that’s provided the juiciest target for Republicans wanting to “repeal and replace” – “replace” with what, nobody is saying – Obamacare.

“Obamacare barely made it through Washington, as you know,” Romney said. “And there is no question in my mind but had the president been truthful and told the American people that millions would lose their insurance and millions more would see their premiums skyrocket, had he told them that at the time it was going through Washington, there would have been such a huge cry against it, it would not have passed.”

It’s a sore point for the former Massachusetts governor, whose own state plan was cited as a model for the Affordable Care Act – including the individual mandate both plans include.

A recent poll by the Massachusetts Medical Society, a statewide physician group, finds that most people in Massachusetts today are generally satisfied with the health-care system there.

“Eighty-four percent of residents expressed satisfaction with the care they received over the last year, including 56 percent who indicated they are ‘very satisfied’ and 28 percent who are ‘somewhat satisfied,’” the survey report states. Seventy-three percent of residents reported that gaining access to health care they need is “not difficult,” and for serious medical problems, 86 percent said the amount of time they needed to wait was not a problem.

The fiscally conservative Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has called the state health insurance program “a well thought-out piece of legislation.”

But that didn’t keep Romney’s GOP primary election rivals from hammering him on what they called “Romneycare.” And of course, Obama had a lot of fun tweaking Romney on the subject, even though there are clear differences between the two plans.

Naturally, the most recent Republican presidential flag-bearer was asked on “Meet the Press” who he liked as the candidate for 2016.

He listed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, his 2012 running mate US Rep. Paul Ryan, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and Sen. Marco Rubio. Pointedly, he did not mention tea party favorites Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Asked about the Cruz omission, Romney said, “I’m not going to disqualify anybody but I think I’ve indicated some of the names I think are most effective in becoming elected….”

A new book talks about why the Romney campaign rejected Gov. Christie as a possible running mate last year. “Double Down: Game Change 2012” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann says Romney’s campaign staff warned that Christie’s background was "littered with potential land mines.”

On Sunday, Romney went out of his way to praise Christie, who faces what’s likely to be easy re-election on Tuesday.

"Chris could easily become our nominee and save our party and help get this nation on the right track again. They don't come better than Chris Christie," Romney said. “He's a very popular governor in a very blue state. That's the kind of popularity and the kind of track record the Republican Party needs if we're going to take back the White House.”

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