I doubt Romney thought about it in such terms. In 2006, he was not a philosophical conservative. Like Donald Trump today, he sold himself as a successful business guy, a problem solver who knew how to make things happen. So he made things happen. And, as a result, he made things worse. How does that happen?
Because, to make things happen in a diseased polity such as Massachusetts, you have to get it past the lifetime legislative class and the ever more swollen regulatory bureaucracy. And, whatever theoretical merits it might have had when the can-do technocrats cooked it up, by the time it’s been massaged through the legislature and pumped full of steroids by the backstage boys, it will just be the usual oozing pustuled behemoth of drearily foreseeable unforeseen consequences. The inflationary factor in Massachusetts health care was not caused by deadbeats’ using emergency rooms as their family doctor but by the metastasizing cost distortions of government intervention in health care: Mitt should have known that — just as he should know that government intervention in college loans has absurdly inflated the cost of ludicrously overvalued credentials and, in a broader sense, helped debauch America’s human capital. And just as he should know that government intervention in the mortgage market is why every day more and more American homeowners are drowning in negative equity.
So Romneycare is not just an argument about health care. It exemplifies what’s wrong with American political structures: It suggests that our institutions are incapable of course correction; it reminds us (as does Boehner’s joke budget “savings” of a couple of weeks back) that Republicans are either easily suckered or too eager to be bipartisan figleafs in embarrassing kindergarten kabuki; it confirms that “technocracy” in politics is a synonym for “more”: more government, more spending, more laws, more bureaucrats, more regulations, more paperwork, more of what’s killing this once-great republic every hour of every day. In defense of Romney, one might argue that politics is the art of the possible. But in Massachusetts what was possible made things worse. That’s the situation the nation is in — and the message that America’s lenders are beginning to get.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Romneycare is not part of the solution; it embodies the problem. If Mitt Romney cannot recognize that, it’s unlikely that he’s the guy to pull American politics back into a passing acquaintance with reality. To put it in Obama terms, America is a moat, and it’s filled with government spendaholics. You could toss a poor alligator in there, but they’d pick him clean in seconds, and leave what was left for Nancy Pelosi’s shoes.
— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2011 Mark Steyn.