Mitt's 'can do' attitude just want country needs right now
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

If we must begin talking about presidential candidates, let me tell you about Mitt Romney.

Personally, I hardly know him.

When he was Massachusetts governor, I knew a lot of people in his administration so I worked with them on taxation issues, but met Mitt himself only a few times over the years, and never engaged in private conversation with him. So the picture I am about to paint is only my impression of what he's really like, created from flash-photos in my head.

I see Mitt as "Mr. Can Do," as in "Why the h-e-double hockey-sticks is everyone standing around doing nothing?" There are so many stories of this nature that the attitude must be part of his basic psyche.

I didn't read his book about his experience with the Salt Lake City Olympics, but recall reading somewhere that he once jumped from his car to clear a traffic jam in Olympic Park. We all heard about his rescuing foundering boaters near his waterfront home in New Hampshire. We saw him striding angrily from the Big Dig tunnel after the tile collapse that killed a woman and it didn't happen again.

During the New Hampshire primary, Granite State Sen. Judd Gregg and I were discussing which of us should walk first to the stage to introduce the candidate, when Mitt charged past us with a grandchild on his shoulder, leapt onto the stage, and reached a hand down to help me up.

I thought of this event early in Deval Patrick's administration, when Easter Sunday drivers were stalled on the Turnpike because of a shortage of holiday toll-takers. Patrick said he could relate to their frustration because he was stuck for awhile too.

I imagined Mitt being in that same position. He would have leapt from his car and removed the tollgate (with an axe from the trunk of his car if necessary), and waved drivers through while using his cellphone to order all toll booths opened. I can't imagine him passively sitting there in traffic for even 10 minutes while an agency of the commonwealth was screwing things up for people.

With this attitude in mind, let's talk about the Romney family dog, whose temporary intestinal problem made it impossible for him to ride in the station wagon during the annual vacation trek to the Great Lakes. Mitt put the Irish setter in his carrier on top of the car for the day-long drive, which got them all to Michigan, albeit with an unpleasant brown substance occasionally running down the outside of the windows.

Here is how I imagine the event. Mitt saw a problem. The dog could be left behind, maybe boarded with a vet, thereby missing the vacation fun with all the kids and other dogs or, he could get to the beach by riding on top, instead of inside, the car. Mitt solved the problem, attaching a windshield to the carrier. The eventually happy dog got to vacation with his family.

Keep this story in mind while we talk about RomneyCare, which RomneyOpponents hope to use to defeat him in the primaries.

This time, I myself was there closely watching the discussion about The Problem: An expensive health insurance system that was subsidizing the uninsured through what was called the "uncompensated care pool" which imposed higher-than-necessary premiums on us insured citizens to pay hospitals to provide free care, much of it taking place in overcrowded emergency rooms.

My own organization insured four of us who were subsidizing people who did not have insurance. We heard stories about long, often painful waits in emergency rooms that are required by the federal government to treat everyone. Various administrations and interest groups had been trying to find a solution for years.

Then along came Mitt. ("Why the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is everyone standing around?")

He got "everyone" together for very public hearings and forums, legislation was drafted, proposed, amended and passed. Mitt vetoed some sections he found problematic, but was overridden by the Democratic Legislature.

Still the new health insurance law worked the first year. My organization's premiums actually dropped, as has the money for the uncompensated care pool. Mitt moved on, leaving a competent lieutenant, Kerry Healey, to run, unfortunately unsuccessfully, for the job in 2006.

The necessary follow-up phases to the new law, like cost containment, weren't done; while the Legislature added mandates like a prescription drug benefit that my organization didn't want but was forced to buy. I complained to my legislators (for all the good that does; though as governor, Mitt also tried to get new legislators elected to advance other aspects of his reform agenda).

Sometimes, in Massachusetts, "Can Do" doesn't get done because voters prefer that "D" stand for Democrat instead of decisive action.

I wish Mitt had won the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and then the election, because there are a lot of things that badly need to be done in America. Voters should read his new introduction to the paperback version of his book, "No Apology," and imagine what it might be like to elect someone in 2012 with the right ideas and the right attitude, for a change.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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