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If Elected, Will Romney Actually Fix Anything? | The Nation

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Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

 Politics, wonkery and everything in between.

If Elected, Will Romney Actually Fix Anything?

Writing for the Huffington Post, Sam Stein reports that Mitt Romney’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act—a series of small measures to protect health insurance for those who have it—will not provide insurance for those with pre-existing conditions:

[U]nder a Romney presidency, there would be no federal prohibition barring health insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions. Instead, his administration would push reforms that help eat away at the problem. It would allow “reinsurance,” in which insurance companies pool resources for a joint plan to cover high-risk patients (essentially an insurance policy for health insurers); provide block grants of Medicaid dollars to the states while giving them flexibility to cover their uninsured population; and encourage the creation of high-risk pools.

The Romney campaign insists that it has a state-by-state alternative for the measure, but skepticism is warranted; there’s no way to both preserve the health care market and guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions without implementing a version of the individual mandate. Given the policy difficulties—and the degree to which Republican leaders have consistently demurred on an alternative to ObamaCare—it’s likely that there is no alternative. If Romney is elected and the ACA repealed, millions will lose health coverage without anything to make up for it.

This is a massive abdication of responsibility; the healthcare system is in desperate need of change, and the Affordable Care Act—for all of its faults—was a step in the direction of reform. To repeal it, and do nothing about the underlying problems, is to drive the United States closer to crisis.

At the risk of hyperbole, you could say the same for most of Romney’s policies. While the former governor sells himself as a competent fix-it man, the fact of the matter is that there’s nothing in his agenda that shows an awareness of our key problems. On the most immediate challenge—high unemployment and widespread immiseration—Romney has…. tax cuts. His plan calls for an across-the-board cut of 20 percent, a sharp reduction in the corporate income tax rate, an end to the estate tax and a deep cut to the capital gains tax. At best, barring big spending cuts, this will act as a large—if inefficient—burst of Keynesian stimulus. The most likely outcome is that it will accelerate the upwards distribution of wealth from the bulk of Americans.

What’s more, there’s nothing in Romney’s plan that suggests awareness of the problems faced by the long-term unemployed, nor is there any plan for aid to states and localities (which he recently rejected), or greater benefits for those who need assistance. Indeed, his budget would make sharp cuts to programs for the least advantaged.

You can play this game with nearly any problem. Climate change is arguably the most important issue facing the globe, but Romney doesn’t have a plan for dealing with emissions. Instead, like most of the Republican Party, he denies that human activity has anything to do with rising global temperatures. On immigration, he supports the most draconian policies imaginable—which do anything but provide a solution—and on financial reform, he seeks to remove any regulations on Wall Street’s behavior.

Centrist types might see Romney as someone who will get a handle on the country’s debt, but his budget plan promises to explode the deficit with tax cuts. On Medicaid, he seeks to reduce costs by cutting the program wholesale with block grants, and on Medicare, he supports the Paul Ryan’s model of “premium support,” which would result in higher costs for seniors, and would do nothing about the long-term growth rate of healthcare costs. Instead, it would substitute private spending for government spending.

The fact of the matter is that Mitt Romney only pretends to be a “fix-it” man; his policies don’t address the country’s problems as much as they fulfill right-wing wishes. The public doesn’t want a wide swing to the right, it just wants the economy to improve. But a swing to the right is all it will get if it elects Mitt Romney.

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