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Romney’s Federalism – Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review Online

August 13, 2011

Romney’s Federalism

ANDREW C. McCARTHY

AUGUST 13, 2011

Trust the states and the people to govern themselves.

On a night when he was the clear winner, it was only natural that Mitt Romney got off the best line of Thursday’s GOP presidential debate. “Are you familiar with the Massachusetts constitution?”

He posed that question to Chris Wallace, the Fox News panelist who had been grilling him on Romneycare, the health-insurance program imposed on Bay State residents by the former Massachusetts governor and the state’s legislature. Governor Romney’s rivals have been pounding away at the program, portraying it as the model for Obamacare — the deeply unpopular foundation for a nationally socialized health-care system, vigorous opposition to which catapulted Republicans to historic success in the 2010 midterm elections.

For good reason, GOP presidential hopefuls see immovable opposition to Obamacare as key to wresting the Oval Office from its current occupant. Romney’s frontrunner status, they reason, owes more to the party establishment’s dubious “It’s his turn” tradition than to any groundswell of support from the grassroots that swept Democrats out in the midterms. So the strategy is to use Romneycare — particularly its dread mandate that individuals buy health insurance — to hang Obamacare and its Big Government noose around Romney’s neck. Tim Pawlenty, a candidate groping for traction, has even coined the term “Obamneycare” to highlight the similarities between the two schemes.

That’s exactly where Mr. Wallace was going. “Do you believe the government has . . . the right to make someone buy a good or service just because they [sic] are a U.S. resident? . . . Where do you find that authority in the Constitution?”

It was then that Governor Romney abruptly turned the tables, challenging his questioner’s own understanding of constitutional law — to be specific, the law laid down in a constitution that is both seven years older than the federal one and, under the GOP’s oft-claimed (but rarely practiced) small-government allegiance, more pertinent to the matter of health care.

via Romney’s Federalism – Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review Online.

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