10/05/2012 06:30 pm ET Updated Dec 05, 2012

Romney, Romneycare and Dishonesty

Enough has already been written about Mitt Romney and how shading the truth or burying it is inappropriate conduct, disregarding the fact-checkers whose work shows that he has not been truthful with the American public (it is called "lying," as I recall) and recanting clear statements he has made on the record (most recently, that he was "completely wrong" when he spoke about not caring about nearly half (47 percent) of the country and called them "victims" who are not responsible for their own lives, including paying for their own health care) and offering positions on all sorts of topics depending on how the political winds are blowing on any given day. Let me add my voice to this chorus, but regarding what he said during the first debate with Obama on Romneycare -- the health care program he signed into law for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts when he was governor. Obamacare was patterned quite extensively after Romneycare, including the individual mandate.

During the debate, Romney was proud as a peacock when he said that no state tax dollars were used to finance Romneycare, as if to say every state could do this.

Jonathan Gruber is a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. As stated on the back cover of his recent book, Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works, he was "the architect" of the Massachusetts health reform effort and "consulted extensively with the Obama Administration and Congress during the development of the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]."

On p. 50-51 of this book (Ch. 5, "Making It Work in Massachusetts"), Professor Gruber states,

"Moreover, the state [Massachusetts] had a flow of $385 million per year from the federal government that it was allowed to use to help insure the uninsured [in Massachusetts]."

During the debate with Obama, Romney never spoke of this, instead only saying that no state tax dollars were used to finance Romneycare. Romney was advocating doing away with Obamacare the second day after he becomes president, and that he would strongly advocate every state using the model that is law in Massachusetts in enacting its own version of Romneycare -- again, noting that the Commonwealth did not need to use any state revenues. But it was the federal government that made Romneycare possible.

So if Romney were completely transparent on Romneycare during the first debate, he would have had to say that if he wanted every state to have a version of his state's health reform plan, each state would have to ask the federal government for in the ballpark of $385M annually to do the job. But as the "proof is in the pudding," Obamacare already does this because it is a federal health care program that applies to all citizens within each state!

Concomitantly, Romney said that he would ensure that his new health plan -- once he sees to it that Obamacare is overturned -- would cover citizens who have pre-existing conditions. Ten minutes after the debate, Romney's senior political advisor, Eric Ferhnstrom, said his boss was mistaken; covering pre-existing conditions would only apply if a citizen already had a policy providing this coverage. Hmm?

Governor Romney, to say how each state could adopt Romneycare once you become president when you knew the federal government financed a healthy chunk of your program is, well, burying the truth! Just like your statement on pre-existing conditions that was taken back by Mr. Ferhnstrom. You might have been able to do this "rope-a-dope" [sorry, Ali for using your dance step in the ring in vain here] in the private sector to advance your own goals and personal fortune, but if you want to become president of the United States, voters demand a level of transparency and honesty that no doubt you have never been accustomed to providing.