At a breakfast in New Hampshire on Monday morning, Mitt Romney said this:
I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say, “I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”
A new low in American political discourse was promptly reached, as both Democrats and – to their shame – some of Romney’s Republican rivals immediately began distorting and misquoting what he said. I was on a radio show with a Democrat strategist last night, and he ignored the host’s playing of the actual Romney audio to read from a Democrat National Committee press release that quoted Romney as saying “I like to fire people.” After railing about this for fifteen minutes, he came back after the break and sheepishly admitted the DNC had lied to him about what Romney said. Then he went back to the same talking points.
Most of the outrage directed at Romney at least quotes his first sentence accurately… and then dispenses with everything that follows. Okay, let’s play that game for a moment. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” Show of hands: how many of you would rather not be able to fire people who provide services to you? That’s pretty much where we are with Obama’s state-run economy. Obama’s Cabinet departments are standing by to “service” you until your business lies in ruins, and you’ve been unemployed so long you don’t even show up in the unemployment statistics any more. You sure as hell can’t fire them. Do you want more of that?
Nevertheless, sensing blood in the water, a couple of the GOP candidates decided to abandon the love of capitalism they’ve been professing for the past year, and duct-tape Romney’s remark to their Bain Capital attacks. From the Detroit Free Press:
“Gov. Romney enjoys firing people; I enjoy creating jobs,” GOP rival Jon Huntsman told reporters at a rally in Concord, N.H. “It may be that he’s slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America, and that’s a dangerous place for someone to be.”
Meanwhile, Rick Perry’s campaign sank even lower and simply turned the first sentence of Romney’s quote into a downloadable ring tone. That’s some mighty fine statesmanship, Governor Perry. Since your campaign is pretty much over anyway, why not go out with a bang and have your team whip up a videogame where Mitt Romney hunts down jobs and blows them away with colorful sci-fi weapons? You could probably collaborate with Team Obama’s programmers on it.
I notice that, although he’s been giving Romney a world of ill-advised grief over Bain Capital, and he’s in a bad mood after getting buried under negative ads in Iowa, Newt Gingrich apparently hasn’t stooped to bowdlerizing Romney’s quote for cheap political points yet. Neither have Santorum or Paul. Don’t disappoint me, gentlemen.
Here’s the kicker: Romney wasn’t even talking about firing people who work for him, as you might glean from the second sentence of his quote. He was talking about health insurance. He was talking about repealing ObamaCare. He wants consumers to have the right to “fire” their health insurance companies.
Didn’t Democrats use to hate health insurance companies? Wasn’t that the reason they rammed a disastrous bill to begin nationalizing the industry down our throats? But now they’re going to profess outrage that Romney thinks people should be able to fire health insurance companies that don’t give them good service?
Didn’t the Republican candidates formerly support the repeal of ObamaCare? Well, not Huntsman. He thinks it can be can be “reformed.” Here’s what he told the New Hampshire Union-Leader last week:
When asked about Obamacare, Huntsman said he has not promised to repeal the health care law like many of his primary contenders, but said he would take a balanced approach to the bill. Good measures in the bill such as coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or allowing young adults to stay on their parents plan up to a certain age should stay in place, along with other good measures in the bill if possible, he said. He added the Supreme Court has yet to rule whether or not the bill is constitutional, he said.
“Let’s take a careful assessed approach,” he said. “As president I think my inclination would be to call together the fifty governors together, cause many of the governors have worked on various aspects of healthcare reform. … We’ve got to start with cost containment and transparency,” he said.
Okay, fair enough: Jon Huntsman does not think people should be able to fire health insurance companies that give them bad service. He thinks they should be able to drop their complaints in a suggestion box, which will be periodically emptied by blue-ribbon panels.
But Rick Perry? He does think ObamaCare should be repealed, right? And yet he’s making fun of Mitt Romney for saying so. Or, to be charitable, he didn’t listen to Romney’s full quote – or is hoping that voters do not – and just thought he’d batter Romney by attacking the foundational principle of economic liberty: the right to buy and sell labor.
And here we all thought Romney was the worst choice to lead the battle against ObamaCare! It sounds like he’s the only one who understands what’s wrong with it. He might even be the only one who still understands what capitalism is. Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul could convince me otherwise by defending him… or at least quoting him accurately.