By Gary P Jackson
The big news on Conservative blogs today is Mitt Romney has chosen Michael O. Leavitt, the former Utah Governor and HHS Secretary under President George W. Bush, to lead the transition, after Mitt is elected.
All of the reports note that Leavitt wants to “implement ObamaCare,” which only fires up Conservatives who fear that Romney won’t keep his word, and support repeal of ObamaCare, in the unlikely event the Supreme Court doesn’t rule it unconstitutional.
Those fears seem unfounded, and in fairness, what Leavitt supports in implementing health care exchanges on a state level. Now on the surface, that sounds innocent enough, but there is more to the story. First this from Phillip Klein:
Mitt transition pick a red flag for conservatives
Over the weekend, Politico broke the news that Mitt Romney had tapped Mike Leavitt, the former Utah Governor and HHS Secretary under George W. Bush, to lead the transition effort should Romney win the presidency. This is a very worrisome signal to conservatives holding out hope that Romney will live up to his promises to fight for limited government if elected.
As Ben Domenech details, Leavitt is one of the few Republicans who has been actively campaigning for governors to implement Obamacare’s health care exchanges at the state level. Conveniently enough, his consultancy group would profit from such an expansion of government because he has won contracts to set up the exchanges.
Though a lot of the reaction to the Leavitt appointment has focused on support for the key component of Obamacare, it’s worth noting that as governor of a very conservative state, Leavitt expanded government and fought efforts to cut taxes. As governor of Utah, Leavitt received a “D” in the Cato Institute’s 2002 fiscal policy report card – the same grade as Howard Dean that year, making him “one of the most pro–big government governors.” According to the report:
Leavitt has shown time and again that he is to the left of his party—so much so that he was nearly defeated during the Republican nominating convention in 2000. The legislature has on many occasions pushed pro-growth tax policies, only to have them rejected by Leavitt. Last year, the legislature passed a $25 million tax cut that included income tax relief. Leavitt insisted on a tax cut one-fifth that size… The only two taxes that he has reduced were the sales tax and the unemployment tax. Leavitt is a big spender extraordinaire. During his 10 years in office, real spending per capita has risen by nearly one-third. He backed a massive $2.6 billion highway construction bill and hiked the gas tax by 5 cents a gallon to pay for it.
In 2000, Leavitt backed a 7.4 percent hike in school spending, the largest increase since the early 1980s. He says improving education is the “keystone to our state’s success,” but he opposes voucher reforms. He does deserve credit for dealing with the budget crisis this year without asking for major new taxes, and he has finally slowed spending growth, but he did agree to a cigarette tax hike. The budget nonetheless faces a $175 million shortfall for 2003. Leavitt has also become known in Washington as “Mr. Internet Tax.” As head of the National Governors Association, he lobbied incessantly for a federal law to allow states to tax out-of-state Internet companies. It is ironic that one of the most conservative states in the union has one of the most pro–big government governors.
Leavitt, in short, was exactly the type of Republican the Tea Party was founded to oppose, and he’s playing a key role in planning a potential Romney presidency, and as the Politico reports, “already, plugged-in Republicans from Washington to Salt Lake City are buzzing that Leavitt could make his own transition next January into the job of White House chief of staff or as a-Valerie Jarrett like personal counselor to a President Romney.”
This is troubling on several levels. To start, as we all know, Romney’s Massachusetts health care law served as the model for Obamacare. Both plans expand Medicaid, force individuals to purchase government-approved insurance coverage and provide subsidies for people to purchase government-designed insurance on government-run exchanges. Romney was a big proponent of exchanges and supported them as governor, and now has named a leading Republican advocate of them to a key post.
The Romney campaign still insists to Matt Lewis that they still plan on repealing Obamacare. But even if we trust that’s the case (something that deserves greater skepticism given the Leavitt news) the question is what replaces Obamacare. Romney has been incredibly vague about how he would reform the health care system in the absence of Obamacare. The danger is that he could end up replacing it with a system that still has exchanges, but exchanges that are billed as having fewer regulations, lower subsidies and giving more flexibility to states. The problem is that this would still put the basic exchange infrastructure in place that a future Democratic administration could build on so the country would eventually wind up with Obamacare anyway – or something worse.
Read more here.
Even though I seriously doubt Romney has any plan to bring RomneyCare to the nation, there’s a lot to worry about here. Romney picking such a Big Government liberal Republican to head his transition team is bad enough. This is the guy who put the Medicare prescription drug program in place when he worked for President Bush. He’s an old guard Establishment Republican.
Leavitt’s record as a Big Government, tax and spend, wrong side of history, liberal Republican, is bad enough. But there is more.
Here’s what I’m not seeing reported by Conservatives, and why this appointment is more than a little bit troubling. You see, it just so happens that Leavitt’s company, Leavitt Partners, is in the health care “intelligence business.” Part of their business is “advising entities on the rapidly evolving public and private health insurance exchange marketplace.”
In other words, the man who will have Romney’s ear, and most certainly be influencing policy, stands to make big bucks if President Romney follows his recommendations and pushes for these health care exchanges. If Leavitt does indeed become President Romney’s Chief of Staff, you almost know it will happen.
This should bother every American greatly. Washington is already a cesspool of corruption. One of the biggest reasons for getting rid of Barack Obama is to stop all of the cronyism. Obama has given billions to his supporters, especially those in the “green” industry. All of those businesses have gone bankrupt, but Obama’s cronies have made out like bandits.
Mitt Romney has been hammering Obama on this. We applauded his recent press conference in front of the toxic waste dump that was once the Solyndra manufacturing facility. That was a masterful move.
Appointing Leavitt sort of negates the whole thing though.
It would be one thing if Leavitt just happened to own a health care strategy company, but this goes far beyond that. Leavitt is one of the very few who has been pushing hard for these ObamaCare health exchanges to be put in place. And it doesn’t take much thought to understand why. Leavitt stands to make a whole lot of money if he can get this done.
Leavitt Partners’ entire business revolves around health care. Looking at their website, it’s a smörgåsbord of strategies and products concerning health care and how to navigate through Big Government.
Romney’s appointment of Leavitt is completely and totally unacceptable. We’ve given Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt on a lot of things. And we understand beating President Obama this November is profoundly important. That said, we cannot allow this sort of thing to stand.
Lest you think I am being alarmist, and my charges unfounded, the left leaning National Journal reports:
Reports: Romney Transition Chief Cashed in on Obama Health Plan
Leavitt, who served as Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush, heads a firm that has positioned itself as a leading consultancy to help implement the Affordable Care Act, and it’s already won contracts to do so, Salon reports. On its web site, Leavitt Partners touts a section of the business that advises clients on how to implement and respond to the health insurance exchanges created by the Obama health care plan.
It’s obvious Leavitt looks to make money, and is in a position to influence the President [assuming Romney wins] to do just that. It’s crony capitalism, plain and simple.
I’m asking Tea Party leaders, and Conservative politicians, as well as Americans in general, to help me stand up to Mitt Romney and let him know straight away that this dog won’t hunt!
Many Conservatives are worried whether or not Romney understands what we demand of our next President.
Here’s his first test. [and ours]
Can we get Romney to listen to us, and do the right thing, or will he prove to be just another politician, and continue the sort of cronyism that is destroying our nation?
The appointment of Leavitt stinks to high heaven. There is a clear conflict of interest here, and there is no way this man should have the ear of the future President, while he’s pushing his agenda, an agenda he looks to profit from.
Corruption and, cronyism, are some of the biggest evils in government today. It exists at every level of government. The 2012 election is about throwing corrupt politicians out, and replacing them with honest men and women. What good will this do us, if we allow this situation to stand?
Sometimes our leaders need guidance.
Please join me in demanding Mitt Romney disassociate himself from Michael O. Leavitt, and anyone else who has a major conflict of interest with the American people.
If Romney isn’t challenged we deserve what we get.
As I said before, this is a test.
If Romney is challenged, and refuses to listen to the people, it will show that he won’t listen as President, either. If he does listen, and takes the proper action, it will go a long way towards reassuring Americans they are making the right choice in backing him come November.
The ball is in Mitt Romney’s court … and yours.