Mitt Romney's Remarkable Consistency on Obama and Health Care


His message for more than two years has been that the president should have focused on jobs instead of health care during his first year in office.

Molly Ball's curtain raiser on what Mitt Romney might say today in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare reminded me that he's been nothing if not consistent in calling it a waste of time and a distraction from fixing the economy. Take this March 2010 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, which did not get much attention at the time. My report:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney had some sharp words Friday for President Obama's economic and foreign policies, criticizing him for spending the past year on health-care reform instead of focusing narrowly on job creation.

Appearing at the National Press Club, the potential 2012 Republican presidential primary contender accused Obama of having the most anti-business, anti-enterprise, anti-employment agenda "since the days of Jimmy Carter" and taking an approach that "has prolonged the recession."

"When you have an enterprise in trouble, the Number One rule is this: Focus, focus, focus," said Romney, the former chief executive of a management consulting firm, Bain & Co. "Make sure you concentrate on the Number One priority with all your energy and passion."

Instead of getting the economy back on track and creating jobs, "the president decided to focus his energy on health care," said Romney. "As a result of his agenda, the opposite of what he has hoped for has occurred."

Skipping over the $862 billion economic stimulus bill that was Obama's first major legislative achievement, Romney said the focus on health-care, coupled with other domestic policy goals, have created an environment of uncertainty for American businesses that was impeding the economic recovery....

It was the GOP message of the day -- "Instead of trying to ram through a health care overhaul ... the President and Speaker Pelosi should focus on getting our fiscal house in order and getting Americans back to work," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday in a statement....

That's some impressive message discipline.

Now that the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, however, on the grounds that it's constitutional under the government's power to tax, the GOP focus is once again turning to repeal -- along with with a fresh line of attack objecting to the law as a tax increase on middle income Americans. Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced this morning that he'll schedule another House vote to repeal it for the week of July 9.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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