Which is worse: that former Gov. Mitt Romney's health reform in Massachusetts bills taxpayers for the cost of providing even routine, non-emergency care to illegal aliens, or that Romney now claims to be shocked -- shocked -- that illegal aliens gained benefits under the reform?
If he knew that would happen -- and officials who put together the Massachusetts law say it was common knowledge -- then we have no reason to think he'll give more than lip service to illegal immigration if he becomes president. And if he didn't know, then we're faced with the prospect of a president who will not only sign but champion bills without having a basic grasp of what's in them.
Pick your poison.
Alas, RomneyCare provides additional grounds for disgust if those two options don't suit you -- namely:
* While Massachusetts' taxpayers must give "free" health care to illegal aliens, taxpayers are forbidden to know how much that costs them. The law made no provision for checking immigration status.
* RomneyCare gives preference in some cases to illegal aliens over U.S. citizens. An unlawful immigrant from, say, Sicily can get coverage, but an American who slips in from Vermont to get treatment under RomneyCare is ineligible. Nice.
* RomneyCare has caused an explosion in health care costs in Massachusetts.
* Wait times to see a physician in the state are in many cases vastly longer than in states without a similar law.
* Only 47 percent of family physicians in Massachusetts are even accepting new patients nowadays, compared with 70 percent around the time RomneyCare took effect.
* Internists and family doctors are less likely to accept insurance from plans offered through RomneyCare than they are to accept other types of insurance. (The RomneyCare plans are very much like ObamaCare's health exchanges.)
Anyway you skewer it, RomneyCare is the catastrophe that keeps on giving. Which should make Romney's campaign for the White House more fun than a bucket of Yorkies.
In all likelihood, the 2012 election will be about jobs and the economy, meaning it will be, in part, about budget-busting, job-killing ObamaCare. How despised is ObamaCare? In 80 Rasmussen polls from late March 2010 through this month, only one found less than 50 percent support for repealing ObamaCare. Most recently, in mid-October, support for repeal was 54 percent, compared with only 38 percent who wanted the law to stay on the books.
Given such stable animosity, it would be suicidal for the eventual Republican nominee not to highlight the miseries of ObamaCare. But for Romney, that is implausible to the point of absurd. He cannot go on the offense against ObamaCare when it is widely acknowledged as a cut-and-paste version of RomneyCare. How do you condemn Washington for mandating the purchase of government-approved insurance when, under your leadership, Boston did the same thing?
With uncharacteristic accuracy, Obama adviser David Axelrod called RomneyCare "the template for what we're trying to do" through ObamaCare. If Romney tries to attack the federal boondoggle when it's just a corn-fed version of his signature "achievement" at the state level, it'll come off like National Public Radio accusing NBC of liberal bias.
The only rational defense he can muster for the Massachusetts law is that it is permissible under the Constitution, which ObamaCare isn't.
But in this case, there is entirely too much daylight between "permissible" and "sane."
"In a pitch to right-wing conservatives, [Rick Perry] outlined a proposal he calls 'Cut, Balance and Grow,'" The Associated Press "reported" on Tuesday.
I'll leave it to you, good reader, to guess how many years will pass before you read an article in the purportedly impartial mainstream media about "left-wing liberals."
Ode to deer
On the debate about deer hunts at Enterprise South industrial park, here, with apologies to the von Trapp family, is a poem ... from my heart:
Doe, a deer, a juicy deer.
Hart, a freshly stewed delight.
Venison, a dish that's just delish.
Fawn, your future's tasty bright. ...