Mitt Romney says that if he's elected president, his first act will be to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul, according to his op-ed in USA Today. The column comes ahead of Romney's speech Thursday explaining why in 2006, as Massachusetts governor, he signed into law a health care overhaul eerily similar to Obama's national plan, which is widely despised by Republicans. The speech is critical to his presidential campaign, Politico's Kasie Hunt writes, as he has to convince voters he's not a big government socialist without leaving himself up to the charge of being a flip-flopper.
RomneyCare features a mandate that forces citizens to buy health insurance. This feature of ObamaCare is hated by conservatives, and the central question in many of state suits to block the bill. Romney says he opposes a federal individual mandate. But MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who was one of the chief architects of RomneyCare and later consulted on ObamaCare, remembers Romney strongly backing a mandate. At a planning meeting in 2005, Gruber tells Salon's Justin Elliott, "It was clear to me.... He argued strongly for it and was very excited about it. ... His role was essential. It was ultimately his call about whether to include the mandate." Gruber finds Romney's new position "incredibly disappointing."