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November 17, 2005

Health Care: Gut check for the Guv

So, Our Guv has decided to postpone his decision about whether to run for re-election until after the health care debate shakes out. Supposedly that makes him "more relevant" to the discussion. But as the Jim Braude interview made pretty darned clear, Mitt's likely to be put in a tough position when the bill comes out of conference committee.

Despite his protestations to the contrary ("We don't need more money"), it seems very possible that the bill will include some "revenue enhancements", i.e. a tax increase -- very un-conservative. And if the personal mandate passes, that's really the same thing, after all. If he gets what he's proposed without a tax increase, there will be unhappy people who are forced to buy "stripped-down products." The way to ameliorate this effect would be to heavily subsidize those forced to buy insurance... and that costs money.

In other words: He's proposed a tax increase that he doesn't call a tax increase, which will really piss people off if he doesn't raise taxes.

And what if the House's non-insuring-employer assessment prevails? On the merits, this really deserves to pass. Based on the Braude interview, I'll bet he'd sign it, with some face-saving gimmick that he could spin later.

But he's in a tough position. The shallow Vennocchis of the world are more than willing to give him all the credit for expanding health coverage -- and even I'm willing to sing his praises if he signs a good bill (gasp!). And yet, he may well be in the position of either approving a tax increase -- jeopardizing his national political future -- or vetoing what could have been "his" great accomplishment.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 07:44 PM in Health Care, Massachusetts | Permalink

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