In fact, one of the prime reasons for initial cost concerns with RomneyCare was that so many people signed up for subsidized insurance so quickly that policymakers were concerned that they'd undercounted the uninsured (the numbers eventually leveled off). Start imposing the mandate on states with uninsured percentages three, four, or five times greater than Massachusetts, and costs will rise astronomically—to the point where either the budget breaks or cost controls become so draconian that the quality of care suffers and real rationing ensues.

Second, President Obama's individual mandate represents a dramatic change in the concept of federal power—a change so momentous that the Supreme Court is quite likely to strike it down. The Constitution entrusts the states with the so-called "police power," a generalized power to enact laws and regulate behavior, limited of course by state and federal constitutional constraints. The federal government, by contrast, is limited to "enumerated powers," having only those powers specifically granted by the Constitution.

Why the difference? America's founders had experienced both the centralized authority of the British Empire and the near-chaos of the Articles of Confederation. They chose a middle way that granted authority to the states but also created a federal government strong enough to defend and unify a vast and diverse country. Their wisdom echoes to this day, as the one-size-fits all approach of ObamaCare has not only been rejected by the 26 states who've filed suit against the law, but even by the Obama administration itself, which has granted, at last count, nearly 1,400 waivers from the law's requirements.

Finally, it's also critical to note that Mitt Romney turned his attention to health care only after transforming a projected $3 billion state deficit when he entered office into a $600 million surplus by 2006, the year he signed his health reform legislation. Romney fixed an economic crisis before he reformed health care. Did President Obama do this? Did he first deal with our deficit and high unemployment? Our financial reality speaks for itself.

If President Obama were Mitt Romney, he would have immediately dealt with our economic crisis, halted the explosive growth of our deficit, and then and only then reached across the aisle to design a bipartisan health care reform package.

Last week, The Onion (a satirical magazine) wrote that Mitt Romney was "haunted by past of trying to help uninsured sick people." Like any good satire, it has the bite of truth. In the strange world of American politics, Mitt Romney is "haunted" by his health care past—not so much because voters or pundits know all that much about Massachusetts, but because they hate ObamaCare so much that anything that faintly smells like it (no matter the contextual differences) is immediately and angrily rejected. Massachusetts' health care isn't perfect, as Governor Romney freely admits, but it was and is a serious and creative effort designed to address the unique needs of the state he governed.

These two sentences sum it up:

In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney balanced the budget then reached across the aisle to create a popular health reform program that was specifically designed for the unique needs of his state. Barack Obama, on the other hand, created a huge new entitlement program in an era of record deficits by ramming an unconstitutional, one-size-fits-all mandate through a reluctant congress and over the expressed objections of a majority of the American people.

Are we really going to ignore these differences? Is this really a reason, in the midst of long-term national and global economic distress, to disqualify from the Presidency the foremost economic expert in the Republican field?

 

For more on Mitt Romney, see Jeremy Lott's "In Defense of Mormons" at the symposium on faith and the future of social conservatism.