Republicans vented their frustration with President Barack Obama’s health care reform Friday on its second anniversary, with Mitt Romney blasting the law as an “unfolding disaster for the American economy.”
Romney’s rival in the Republican presidential race, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, also weighed in, savaging the two-year-old law as “the most dangerous legislation in generations.”
And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell described it as “a metaphor for all of the excesses of this administration,” while conservatives wrote opinion pieces in the nation’s newspapers laying out how the costs of “Obamacare” outweigh the benefits,
In a piece for USA Today, Romney, frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the battle to see who will challenge Obama in November, said it was “past time to abolish the program, root and branch.”
And while he noted that the US Supreme Court was set to hear arguments about the landmark law next week in one of the most closely watched cases in years, he said that, regardless of how the justices rule, “the case against Obamacare extends far beyond questions about its constitutionality.
“President Obama’s program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives.”
The Affordable Care Act, passed after a bitter struggle against blanket Republican opposition in 2010, granted 30 million Americans health insurance for the first time, bringing universal coverage closer than ever before.
Romney instituted a similar program for Massachusetts while he was governor of the left-leaning state, and in 2009 he wrote an infamous op-ed in the same newspaper encouraging Obama to follow the Massachusetts model for his national health plan.
But on Friday Romney said he is vehemently opposed to a one-size-fits-all health care plan for the entire nation.
“What we need is a free market, federalist approach to making quality, affordable health insurance available to every American,” he wrote in USA Today. “Each state should be allowed to pursue its own solution in this regard, instead of being dictated to by Washington.”
Romney sought to turn the debate to the future, saying it was vital to come up with a replacement.
“Instead of the massive new taxes, trillions of dollars in new spending, and top-down bureaucratic decrees of Obamacare, we need to limit Washington’s control by spurring competition, creating maximum flexibility and enhancing consumer choice.”
Obama issued a short statement Friday, saying “the law has made a difference for millions of Americans,” and citing how the bill has been able to keep 2.5 million additional young adults on their parents’ health plan and helped more than five million seniors save an average of $635 on prescription drug costs.
But the lack of major fanfare from the White House has rallied Republicans to charge that the administration has little to celebrate.
“I was a little surprised that there wasn’t a birthday cake there” to mark the anniversary, quipped McConnell.
At a briefing he listed several of the law’s apparent failures, from the $500 billion he said the administration snatched from the government-administered Medicare health care program for the elderly in order to pay for the reform, to the failure to lower premiums or costs.
“What we did was take a meat axe to the best health care system in the world when we should have used a scalpel,” McConnell said.
Vice President Joe Biden touted the successes of health care reform in Florida on Friday, and told seniors that Democrats would be the best stewards of Medicare.
“With the number of seniors doubling by 2040, the question is: are we going to strengthen and sustain these programs, now and for the future?” Biden asked.
“Make no mistake: if Republicans in Congress and their amen corner of Romney, (religious conservative Rick) Santorum, and Gingrich get their hands on the White House, they will end Medicare as we know it.”
(Demonstrators in Chicago in November protest against cuts to federal safety net programs. Newt Gingrich got a raucous reaction too when he told a conservative conference last month that signing a repeal of Barack Obama’s law would be his first act as president. AFP Photo/Scott Olson)