Mitt Romney is finally ready to take credit for Obamacare.
Speaking to the Boston Globe for their obituary of Staples founder Thomas G. Stemberg, who died Friday, the former Massachusetts praised Stemberg for his involvement in pushing “Romneycare,” which in turn, Romney said, led to Obamacare, giving “a lot of people” health coverage.
“Without Tom pushing it, I don’t think we would have had Romneycare,” Romney said. “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So, without Tom a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”
It’s hard to imagine Romney saying such a thing during the 2012 election cycle. Back then Romney was stumbling and bumbling his way to create some distance between the health care reform he championed as a governor and President Obama’s signature health care law.
The focus by conservatives on Obamacare as the leading example of everything that was wrong with Obama made for some extremely awkward moments for the eventual Republican nominee. The similarities between the Massachusetts and the federal laws even prompted one of Romney’s primary rivals to coin the term “Obamneycare.”
The next day Romney promised to repeal Obamacare if elected and vowed that on his first day in the White House, he would “grant a waiver to all 50 states from Obamacare."
He echoed his Obamacare repeal promises again and again. He called Obamacare a “very bad piece of legislation” and unconstitutional. He argued Romneycare only worked on the state level and that by bringing it nationwide, the Obama administration “fundamentally distrust[s] free enterprise and distrust the idea that states are where the power of government reside."
And if that wasn’t enough to convince Republicans, he turned his criticism against his own law.
"It's not even perfect for Massachusetts," he told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York in 2011. "At the time we created it, I vetoed several measures and said these, I think, are mistakes, and you in Massachusetts will find you have to correct them over time. ... But they have not made those changes, and in some cases they made things worse. So I wouldn't encourage any state to adopt it in total."
Now that Romney is suggesting that Romneycare helped bring about Obamacare, he is in line with what Obama said during one of their 2012 debates.
“[T]he irony is that we've seen this model work really well in Massachusetts, because Governor Romney did a good thing, working with Democrats in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model,” Obama said.
After Obama detailed the similarities between the two laws, Romney acknowledged, “You obviously studied up on — on my plan.”
“The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy,” Romney insisted then.
Update: Shortly after this story was published, Mitt Romney went back to his 2012 tune. In a statement posted to his Facebook page he said he still opposed Obamacare.