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Pawlenty vs Romney On Health Care

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty are battling over health care reform

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has rapidly moved to become a leading voice within the Republican party on health care and, in the process, has taken a series of shots at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's handling of the issue in Massachusetts.

In a July 27 letter to the Minnesota Congressional delegation, Pawlenty compared the current federal plan being considered to the legislation passed in Massachusetts, noting: "That state's experience should caution Congress against this approach."

Pawlenty added that while the Massachusetts plan has helped reduce the number of uninsured, "costs have been significantly higher than expected."

Tpaw reprised that argument in a Washington Post op-ed Monday morning, offering a litany of his own accomplishment in Minnesota on health-care before bashing the Massachusetts program as having "increased taxes and fees." (Side note: Pawlenty's Post op-ed should put to rest any doubt about whether he will run for president; outgoing Midwestern governors don't tend to place op-eds in national newspapers as a matter of habit.)

Pawlenty sought to downplay that he was directly criticizing Romney during an interview last week with Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren calling the former governor a "friend" and adding: "He's been an effective leader in so many circumstances over the years."

Still, it's hard to see Pawlenty's critique of Massachusetts health plan as a shot -- whether direct or indirect is a matter of debate -- at Romney.

Romney, who ran, in part in 2008 on his ability to forge consensus on health care in the Bay State, has generally avoided engaging Pawlenty on the issue.

But, when asked about Pawlenty's repeated jabs at his boss, Romney spokesman Eric Fehnrstrom offered a subtle pushback on the idea that the Massachusetts plan is a recipe for health care disaster.

"There's a reason why states and national health care reformers are copying the Massachusetts health care law, and that's because it works," said Fehrnstrom. "Mitt Romney is the only governor in history to get insurance coverage to nearly all his citizens. He got the job done."

Romney allies were also somewhat dismissive of Pawlenty's much-ballyhooed speech at last week's Republican National Committee gathering in San Diego, according to Politico's Jonathan Martin.

These sorts of skirmishes almost never rise to the level at which regular voters, who are not likely even thinking about 2010 much less 2012, are aware of them.

That doesn't mean, however, that behind-the-scenes scraps aren't important. Health care is almost certainly to be at the center of Obama's 2012 re-election race -- no matter the outcome of the current bill wending its way through Congress.

Being the prime critic of Obama's plan and the lead ideas guy for Republicans then is of vital importance to both Romney and Pawlenty. Romney clearly begins the debate with a leg up thanks to the fact that he spent much of 2008 touting his plan. But, Pawlenty's recent attacks make clear that he won't cede the health care high ground to his likely rival any time soon.

A Romney-Pawlenty rivalry seems to be developing quite nicely -- even several years removed from the fight for the nomination. And, the Fix -- like all political junkies -- loves a good rivalry.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 4, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012  
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OK, Feud slipped in and changed move to the center to move to the right, but then about now a move to the right from the ultra right would be of continental size in its self.

Posted by: ceflynline | August 4, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

"Being the prime critic of Obama's plan and the lead ideas guy for Republicans then is of vital importance to both Romney and Pawlenty."

Between the sort of premise of this article and the one on Toomey, it might look like some republicans have begun to learn about the existence of that rarified political abstraction, "The Center", and considering it along with another political abstraction the conservatives can't get a handle on, "A majority".

But then you get the passage quoted above and you understand that they HAVEN'T figured it out yet.

You can get a handle on the center by talking to them about things they need and want.

Critics of the current administration, without or with some vaguely plausible health care plan, are still the purveyors of NO!, they just expand their vocabulary a bit to include "negatory" and "no way jose". (But Nyet, nein, iie, bu, mai would demonstrate a proclivity to understanding foreigners, so you won't need any translators for those. Ne/non, being so obviously French are of course flat out of the question.)

When a real centrist moderate begins by talking about what Obama is doing right, and how his work could be particularly ameliorated, perhaps we can decide that there is indeed a republican move to the right, although the hoots from Limbaugh and Combs over the hifalutin' language will undoubtedly arrest that motion as soon as it begins.

Posted by: ceflynline | August 4, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Figures these jerkoffs would argue about taxes instead of arguing about effective healthcare. Like they give a crap if the citizens of their states suffer from treatable diseases, as long as their rich pals get breaks on their taxes.


Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Pawwho! He has nothing going for him!
And last year his debating ability was somwhere between HOWDY DOODY AND ED THE TALKING HORSE!
Paw-who thinks he can challenge Romney
on money matters! HA HA HA HA HA!
Mitt will mop him up!

Posted by: geneman39 | August 4, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Neither one of these guys can even wrap his alleged mind around the idea of health care for ordinary working people. Their only allegiance is to the wealthy. The Republican Party has been all about the wealthy since the 1880s. These two clowns are Republicans to the rotten core.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"voice within the Republican party" and "health care" are two phrases that shouldn't be in the same sentence.

Posted by: jbentley4 | August 4, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

A good rivalry? What are we going to call it? Dull and Duller?

Posted by: jbentley4 | August 4, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Romney as a "business man" exported tens of thousands of jobs while increasing executive pay to the millions.

He's the problem, not the solution.

Posted by: newagent99 | August 4, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't put much stock in a guy who after having a major bridge just collapse in his state, killing at least four adults and wounding over 60 children comes out and speaks against a government plan to fund infrastructure building in America.

Posted by: JRM2 | August 4, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

TO: bsimon1 @ 1:27 p.m.

The "program" has seen to it that my life is an open book. Visit my pages and you'll have no doubt.

But I guess it is possible that some good
people on the inside have my back -- in the cause of justice, not necessarily due to any special status. That could be wishful thinking; but then...

Does that help?

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 4, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

reason5 concludes
"Tim Pawlenty has the tools to unite & excite the Republican party and appeal to enough independents & moderate democrats to win a primary & GE."

reason- I think you may be right about Pawlenty's positioning for the GOP primary, but I think he will have a hard time in the general, if he makes it that far. His record in MN does not stand up to scrutiny; the fiscal disaster that he is leaving for the next governor will not be helpful to his Presidential campaign. If he wants to do for the country what he's done for the state of MN, he's promising deficit spending that will dwarf that of both Bush and Obama.

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Ask people from Minnesotal about Pawlenty. He didn't win majority of vote in either election. He didn't proprose anything significant during his years. Closed the state and takes good care of the rich(typical Republican)

Posted by: jimnanz | August 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

scrivener50 writes
"Only the "black ops" budgeteers know for sure, and Congress hasn't shown an interest in finding out..."

yes, but who scrivens the scrivener?


Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, scriv, I *wish* someone paid me...but sorry, just another of your paranoid delusions.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

There still looks to be a # of folks running for the GOP primary: Romney, Pawlenty, Palin, Huckabee and who knows who else. With Sanford & Ensign out, there's room for a wild card. Palin & Huckabee will definately be the social conservative favorites, but will likely split the vote. Pawlenty could also get some of the socially conservative base. Romney will focus mainly on economics, but Pawlenty will compete with him hard on the issue and likely split that vote. On foreign policy, the neo-cons don't like Huckabee. That would leave Palin, Pawlenty & Romney to battle that out. Many foreign focused conservatives are also weary of Romney's Mormonism. Pawlenty or Palin could capitalize on this fact and nap the nomination. To win the Republican primary, it seems that Romney nor Huckabee really have what it takes. I supported Romney in 08', and thought that if he ever had a shot it was then. Well, he still lost to a moderate in McCain. Against conservatives like Pawlenty & Palin, it will be tough for him. I really think Pawlenty has a great shot at appealing to all 3 pillars of the Conservative base plus independent minded conservatives. 3 pillars: Foreign policy, fiscal & social. Romney is downed by the social conservatives. Huckabee is downed by the fiscal & foreign policy conservatives. Palin is hated by moderates and fiscally conservative Republicans are weary of her. Pawlenty is already well liked by every pillar of the conservative base & moderates. Tim Pawlenty has the tools to unite & excite the Republican party and appeal to enough independents & moderate democrats to win a primary & GE.

Posted by: reason5 | August 4, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse


When the (apparent) paid troll "drindl" suggests that the (apparent) paid troll agent provocateur 'king_of_zouk" be banned...

...can it be long before a whole new set of aliases and IP addresses appears on "The Fix" and "44"?

But yes, Chris, "drindl" is right about "astroturfing." Could it also be the product of contractors laboring on the public's dime?

Only the "black ops" budgeteers know for sure, and Congress hasn't shown an interest in finding out...

...not yet.

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 4, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Both of these guys are free-marketeers, they don't care if hard-working Americans die of preventable illnesses so long as idle rich Americans get to maximize income. To hell with them both, and to hell with the financial caste.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 4, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I thought the #1 Republican "idea" on health care was the Wyden (D) & Bennett (R)option?

They seem to bring it up all the time, like this morning on the Squawk Box health care interview. There were six senators in a hearing room. [Briefly, it gives individuals control over their health savings account which they have to use in a single insurance market place.]

Or do Rs talk about this only as a gambit, knowing that "starting over" and ending employment based health insurance is a non-starter?

Posted by: shrink2 | August 4, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

As a Minnesotan, Pawlenty's history of Health Care Disasters is pretty long: Pawlenty cut a Health Care Program that serves 30,000-35,000 childless adults near or below the poverty line—most with Chronic or Mental Illness.

Pawlenty has proposed cutting Health Insurance coverage for more than 100,000 Minnesotans. He proposed cutting the Health Care Access Fund for Minnesota, but the Minnesota Hospital Association opposed Pawlenty’s proposed cuts to Health Care.

Pawlenty unilaterally cut Health Care Services by $236 Million in 2009, including as many as 1,600 Disabled Minnesotans. He also eliminated Health Care programs for the poor and cut hours for personal care attendants. The Star Tribune reported “Hospitals That Serve The Poor…Will Be Disproportionately Affected” by Pawlenty’s unilateral budget cuts to Health Care and would cause some Nursing Homes to close, reduce access and limit Personal Care programs for Seniors.

The Minnesota Medical Association President said that Pawlenty’s Health Care cuts “Ultimately would Increase Health Care Costs and premiums for Minnesota Businesses and Individuals.” And the Minnesota Hospital Association expressed their concern: Pawlenty’s cut to GAMC “Would Likely Eliminate Over 7,500 Jobs,”

Pawlenty's record is as dismal as the rest of the Republicans. They don't want to fix Health Care, nor any of the other myriad problems they've caused during their incompetent eight years of 'leadership.'

Posted by: rurik | August 4, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Pawlenty's viability as a candidate still hangs on the Minnesota budget, which he has taken unilateral control of after failing to reach a compromise with the legislature.

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, bsimon1.

Pawlenty's plan is reasonable for goverment workers. The public option is similar to that, and I think it would be good for all citizens (not just USG employees) to have such options.

The fact that costs went up in Massachusetts, and not in Minnesota, is that the Minnesota plan was for state employees who already had coverage. That is, a relatively healthy group.

Covering the uninsured will add costs. And it's the right thing to do. Minn. vs. Mass. is a strawman argument.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 4, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

drindl asks
"Do you think Pawlenty could possibly be suggesting a public option? Is it possible he's saying something *moderate?*"

I think he is talking out of both sides of his mouth, as is typical for him. In the introduction, he takes credit for the MN state employees medical plan as a model for how to deliver health care. What he has not said is how that should be applied to heathcare consumers who are not employed by the state (or fed) government, much less those people who don't get healthcare through an employer.

He goes on to disparage the Dems efforts in Congress - and rightfully criticizes them for failing to address costs (Mark in Austin is the perennial advocate for that need). In another dose of irony, the governor goes on to suggest many of the very same proposals that the President has made for how to address rising costs.

I think The Fix is correct that this is targetted more directly at Romney than the Dems. Whether Pawlenty intended it or not, he is also criticizing the GOP caucus in Congress, which is siding more with the blue dogs that are protecting the health insurance biz & killing some of the proposals that would lower costs.

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Actually I'm more interested to see how perception of Romney's implimentation of a state health care system will help or hurt his ambitions depending on how the current push ends up panning out.

Posted by: mtcooley | August 4, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Chris Cilizza -- as you can see, kingofzouk is a troll. Having known many well-established bloggers since 1999, I can tell you that many good discussion boards are ruined by them. Many trolls are actually paid by astroturf orgs, many others are just nuts. You decide.

The only way to save your board is to ban him. He won't go away and he won't behave no matter what you say.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chris.


On topic please -- "kingofzouk" this means you.


Posted by: Chris_Cillizza "

Posted by: DDAWD | August 4, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

On topic, please -- teehee. Indeed.

Thank you for posting that bsimon. Very interesting. Do you think Pawlenty could possibly be suggesting a public option? Is it possible he's saying something *moderate?*

He better hold onto his scalp, because the base will be brandishing hatchets.

"Still, a longtime health-benefits negotiator for AFSCME and a union spokeswoman note that Minnesota’s plan is essentially something that many Republicans oppose in national reform legislation — a public option run by government.

"This is a case where the largest public employer in the state and all the unions came together and designed something that works for workers and families because they couldn’t buy it in the private sector," said Peter Benner, a former executive director of AFSCME who negotiated health benefits under governors dating to Rudy Perpich. "I’m glad he (the governor) holds the state employee health plan up as a model, but I think it’s a model of what a public option can do -- not what a private-sector model can do."

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Kash for Klunkers - typical lib program:

Republicans also pointed out that the administration had originally estimated the first $1bn in funding would last until November. Instead it is expected to run out in the next few days.

“When the administration comes bearing estimates, it’s not a bad idea to look for a second opinion,” said Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader. “All the more so if they say they’re in a hurry.”

We ca learn a lot from this. when the Lib Obimbo comes calling beware. this is what happened so far:

the website crashed, the money ran out and the libs want more, the perfectly good cars the poor could use are ruined, the rich meanwhile, drive away in a new Lexus, paid for by you. the participants are getting screwed, the rules are unintelligable.

Leave it up to the Libs to deliver us big government programs with all the:

foresight of social security
choice of Medicare
Frugality of porkulus
efficiency of FEMA
Transparency of Obimbo's transcripts
kindness of Rev. Wright
Honesty of Wrangle
tAxes of cheatin Geithner
Honesty of Pelosi
courage of Reid
Integrity of Gates
and political goodwill of dead fish Rahm

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 4, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Pawlenty has been cutting the number of Minnesotans eligible for health care. How, exactly, is that a "health care plan"?

Posted by: gmcduluth | August 4, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Finally, as a baseball fan, I was annoyed to see Obama all over this year’s All Star Game. Even before we were all treated to the embarrassing sight of this adult male tossing out the first pitch like a little girl, we had to watch him making small talk with the players in the locker-room. As if that wasn’t more than enough Obama at a sporting event, he next popped up in the broadcast booth with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, trying his best to sound like a regular guy. I was reminded of John Kerry during the 2004 campaign when he tried his darndest to pass himself off in his spanking new Abercrombie & Fitch outfit as an outdoors man. Right -- there was nothing good old John ever enjoyed more after a day spent tramping through the woods stalking bears than taking off his boots and speaking French with his hunting buddies over some aged brie and a whimsical little Cabernet.

And, finally, although I wasn’t at the All Star Game in St. Louis, I know someone who was, and she insists that there were more catcalls than cheers for the Commander-in-Chief when he was driven out in the royal golf cart, but that the boos were apparently toned down mechanically by those in charge of the telecast. However, his handlers didn’t want to take any chances of a slip-up, especially not after the president’s generally reliable TelePrompter had recently broken down and left the great orator speechless, and that was the actual reason Obama was sporting a Chicago White Sox jacket. It wasn’t because he’s such a diehard fan or, as he said to McCarver and Buck, “My wife says I look cute in it,” but because it would then appear to the TV audience that he was being booed by the home crowd because he wasn’t wearing a Cardinal jacket.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 4, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

If Romney wants to counter-attack, he can find some fun information in this MN Post article:’s_op-ed_piece_on_health_reform

"Minnesota’s plan is essentially something that many Republicans oppose in national reform legislation — a public option run by government."

Is Governor Pawlenty bucking the party & coming out in support of a public option run by government?


Posted by: bsimon1 | August 4, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse


On topic please -- "kingofzouk" this means you.


Posted by: Chris_Cillizza | August 4, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Still, say what you will about the Obamas, no one can deny that they aren’t doing all they can to combat unemployment. For instance, Barack is appointing so many czars, you’d think his last name was Romanov. In the meantime, Michelle has gathered a larger staff of courtiers and ladies-in-waiting than Madame Pompadour and Madonna put together. There were, at last count, 22 people answering directing to the First Lady, costing the taxpayer roughly $1.6 million a year. In Mrs. Obama’s case, these servants are called, among other things, Director of Communications for the First Lady, Deputy Social Director, Director of Scheduling and Associate Director of Correspondence. I swear there’s even an underling who goes by the title of Deputy Associate Director of Correspondence. In the Obama White House, it seems that even the gofers have gofers.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 4, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

So far as I can tell, the only real difference between members of Congress and cockroaches is that one of the two species has a few more legs than the other.

Friends of mine keep trying to make me feel better by insisting that Obama’s poll numbers are falling. The trouble is that all he has to do is get a dog or nominate a female Hispanic to a job above her pay scale and the numbers start to rise. The guy is doing his best to destroy our industries with Cap and Trade; bankrupt our economy with trillion dollar stimulus bills; bring Cuban-style socialized medicine to America; turn a blind eye to nuclear-armed enemies; fund a criminal organization like ACORN with taxpayer dollars; allow the DNC to take control of the census; threaten to silence the opposition through the so-called Fairness Doctrine; and do everything but fly the hammer-and-sickle from the roof of the White House, and yet let him be photographed holding hands with Michelle and the kids, and millions of us seem ready to give him a “Well done!” and a friendly pat on the back.

Which is why I’m even more frightened of the electorate than I am of the elected. Politicians, even those as dangerously demented as Pelosi, Reid, Waxman and Obama, come and eventually go, but really dumb voters, it seems clear, are here to stay.

What Obama and his corrupt cronies are trying to do to health care should not only anger every American, it should have them reading up on guerrilla warfare. Ever since the presidential campaign, when Obama told the guy with the ailing elderly mother that instead of an operation, he should consider pain pills as the more sensible option, I knew this cold-blooded good-for-nothing was a man born, not to govern a nation, but to run a gulag.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 4, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"As Justice Louis Brandeis once said, sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. The more people know about how federal laws, rules and regulations are made, and who's making them, the less likely it is that critical decisions will be hijacked by lobbyists and special interests.

I think the current administration knows that, too, which is why it's been the most defiantly secretive government in modern times.

It's time to change that.

When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you will have five days to look online and find out what's in it before I sign it." -- Barack Obama, June 22, 2007

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised that once a bill was passed by Congress, the White House would post it online for five days before he signed it.

...When he took office in January, his team added that in posting nonemergency bills, it would “allow the public to review and comment” before Mr. Obama signed them.

Five months into his administration, Mr. Obama has signed two dozen bills, but he has almost never waited five days. On the recent credit card legislation, which included a controversial measure to allow guns in national parks, he waited just two. -- New York Times, June 22, 2009

We can;t even get his school records, his writings, his birht certificate. that is Lib transparency.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 4, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Liar in chief:

By a vote of 244-188 Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed an $819 billion bill aimed at stimulating the economy and tempering a spate of layoffs across the country.

Says President Obama, the bill's lobbyist-in-chief: "Most of the money we're investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job-creation, generating or saving 3 to 4 million new jobs." -- Forbes, January 28, 2009

In Saturday’s address, Obama also responds to critics who believe the $787 billion bill is not sufficient to turn around the economy and who are, therefore, pushing for another stimulus package.

“[A]s I made clear at the time it was passed, the Recovery Act was not designed to work in four months – it was designed to work over two years." -- CNN, July 11, 2009

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 4, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Pawlenty looks like he's got a permanent sneer. Just what we need. A republican President Sneer after President Smirk.

So Pawlenty's attack Romney's plan. And his own healthcare plan? What would that be?

Cricket, cricket.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Pawlenty knows that Palin and Huckabee will be kicking and screaming to get the extreme right, and he thinks that if he can convince the libertarian/counry club folks that he is the fiscal conservative he can eliminate Romney and then beat the Evangelical folks after one of them has dropped out.

Posted by: AndyR3 | August 4, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Pawlenty knows that Palin and Huckabee will be kicking and screaming to get the extreme right, and he thinks that if he can convince the libertarian/counry club folks that he is the fiscal conservative he can eliminate Romney and then beat the Evangelical folks after one of them has dropped out.

Posted by: AndyR3 | August 4, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

There's only room for one northern-republican-who-can-get-elected-in-a-liberal-state in this town, romney. draw!

Posted by: nodebris | August 4, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

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