Romney’s Perry Opportunity?

Aug 16 2011 @ 4:41pm

A reader makes a keen, if quixotic, argument:

With Gov. Perry officially entering the race, Romney has a real challenger, and it is bound to be quite a fight over the next few months. But while Perry appears, by far, Romney's most formidable opponent, he also presents a unique opportunity for Romney to own his signature achievement as Massachusetts governor, and use it to flog his opponent. Texas is the second-most populous state in the nation with over 24 million residents, 26% of whom lack health insurance – the highest rate in a nation with an average uninsured rate of 17%.

That means that Texas's uninsured population is greater that the entire population of 33 out of the 50 states, and of the eight smallest states combined. That is truly staggering. For Perry to be the last person standing after the Republican primaries, one would think he will have to answer for that. Since Bachmann is as intent as anyone to dismantle the ACA, that seems to leave Romney to be the one to grill Perry on this. If Romney does decide to own the success of MassCare, he might just wallop Perry on this count.

Sooner or later, Romney will have to run on his record, because Obama sure won't let him forget it. Better to embrace it now and defend it rather than look ridiculous by continuing to disown it in the general election as Obama hails the importance of the MassCare model.

Somehow, I lack confidence in Romney running on this accomplishments in defiance of the Tea Party. He has shown (so far) a great willingness to diminish his own achievements in Massachusetts, or at least deny that they could be duplicated in the nation as a whole. Given this Republican field, I am bound to vote for Obama pretty much no matter what, but for the good of the country I would sure like for him to have a viable opponent.

However, in a GOP primary hostile to illegal immigrants, this data point could prove useful for Perry in downplaying his state's healthcare crisis:

Non-citizens make up about one-quarter of Texas’ uninsured population, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities’ Texas Health Care Primer. Regardless of immigration status, immigrants tend to have a higher rate of uninsurance than non-immigrants. Of the 1.2 million foreign-born, naturalized U.S. citizens in Texas, for example, 31 percent are uninsured, compared to 22 percent of U.S.-born Texans.