Mitt Romney: I Like Firing People
Mitt Romney uttered a line today that is likely to become the subject of more than one campaign commercial:
Leaving aside the context of what Romney was saying here, which may well have merit, this is, as Kristen Powers notes on Twitter, not something you want to be saying if you are running for President in a nation with high unemployment.
You can almost hear the heads hitting the desk at Romney HQ, and the high-five’s at the DNC (which is who posted this clip to YouTube by the way), if you listen closely enough.
Poor Mitt. This was dumb. I get the point I hope he was making – it’s good to have the option to fire people who cannot do the job – but what a stupid way to say it. When the Dems want to paint you as a rich guy who made his bones firing people, best not to talk about how much you enjoy doing that.
Well, considering Mitt’s already gone full-on ‘pants-on-fire’ for attributing quotes to Obama that he never even said & justifying it for politics’ sake, I don’t think ‘context’ here means squat. I’m really curious to see the blasted plain that this primary is going to leave behind… I mean, if I was a Democratic Oppo researcher, I’d just set a snooze alarm for March and let these idiots do all my work for me.
Exactly. Giving your opponents the weapon they will use to beat you over the head is not a smart move. It’s not fatal, but it’s a dumb mistake
It was a dumb thing for him to say, but your headline is inaccurate.
He said, “I like being able to fire people” not, “I like firing people.”
Believe it or not, there are people who will be too lazy to watch a 17 second clip.
Ah hah hah hah hah. Excellent.
“I like being able to fire people” is completely different than “I like firing people” ESPECIALLY when “…that provide service to me” immediately follows.
Now, it’s mentioned that the headline isn’t in context, but the article headline is just an egregious and blatant misquote of what he said. That has nothing to do with context, that’s just a fabrication.
When you add this kind of stuff to his line about not running for office if you need to pay a mortgage, corporations being people, being unemployed, etc. etc. etc. , you get a good idea of the universe Romney travels in and it’s a lot different than the universe in which most people live. While being an out-of-touch rich white guy obviously isn’t fatal to a presidential campaign, reminding people just how far removed you are from their everyday concerns isn’t likely to play well in a bad economy.
The Mittster clearly suffers from an empathy gap.
Mitt Romney shows he’s too out-of-touch to be President. What he really needs to do is spend some time on the golf course, or perhaps a take a Hawaiian vacation. Then, he can show the American people that he understands what they are going through.
Actually this is one of the few things I have heard him say where he actually took a stand. Either you can defend capitalism and its consequences or you can’t. Contrast this with the Obamessiah who has never made a private sector decision in his life.
We’ve had 22 straight months of job growth under Obama.
The last year a Republican was in the White House, America’s economy lost 3.6 million jobs.
Doug, did you read the whole quote? I hadn’t when I made my first comment. I stummbed across it at The Plum Line. Here it is,
“I want people to be able to own insurance if they wish to, and to buy it for themselves and perhaps keep it for the rest of their life, and to choose among different policies offered from companies across the nation. I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy.
“It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.”
When Mitt says, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me” it seems pretty clear in this case he is referring to a company. He is going to get killed unfairly. Should he be smarter in how he says these type of things? Clearly he should. But it is this type of parsing of sentences without acknowledging the point being made that is just so depressing (and I don’t mean that at you Doug – I generally line your approach). I’d like for all of us to be able to have an adult conversation about the substance of issues but both parties seem intent on preventing that from happening.
It’s politics, unfair is a relative. concept at best. There are ways he could have communicated this point without handing the opposition and sound bite that can be used against him over and over again.
I know exactly what Romney was saying here, and he’s largely right. However, he communicated in a manner that seems insensitive in a time of high unemployment.
Mitt has said a lot of ridiculous things that should result in sane people rejecting him.
This: I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.”
…is not one of them (even though I’m not sure what his gripe is: the ACA doesn’t end private insurance. Is this a “sell health insurance across state lines” thing?).
“When Mitt says, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me” it seems pretty clear in this case he is referring to a company. He is going to get killed unfairly.”
Romney has been doing EXACTLY this, using Obama quotes to make lies. And he tells lots of other lies, too, like “Obama is apologizing for America”, etc.
Since Romney started it, and is unapologetic, and I am willing to bet he’ll keep doing it, well, what’s sauce for the goose…
I am unwilling to shed a tear for Romney getting killed on this “unfairly”.
One other phrase comes to mind with regard to this Romney quote. Tone deaf.
It is completely out of context.
But Romney’s campaign, when pressed on whether it was unfair to take an Obama quote out of context to fundamentally change it’s meaning said:
Hell is open for sinners.
@Jeff Akston: Ummm, no. It’s called paraphrasing, and the way Doug’s done it here does _not_ significantly alter the statement.
That may very well have been his intent, but his use of the word ‘people’ is what hurts him here (not to mention the fact that it just underlines Romney’s position on corporate personhood). Hanging politicians on what they say rather than what they mean is par for the course, and a far sight more fair that what Romney’s already been doing in his own campaign.
Hoisted by his own petard. Nobody deserves it more.
It never ceases to amaze me how fast karma works sometimes. If it was any other candidate, I’d feel sorry for him but Romney can suck it up as far as I’m concerned. Maybe now his campaign will have a heightened respect for context in quoting lines.
@ponce: Yes, it is really frustrating to hear pundits, partisans, and various other lower life forms proclaim that Obama’s policies have failed when the economy has at least turned around and is generally going in the right direction. These folks also then tend to talk up how the current crop of R’s, who would implement many of the same policies as Bush, are somehow going to fix things. Mind-boggling.
Using quotes out of context is what politicians have always done. Even Romney did it himself this campaign cycle with the “Americans are lazy” quote uttered by Obama and Obama will have his revenge.
But I will say, Romney just seems like a huge ass this past couple of days. He told Huntsman off about him being an ambassador. “The rest of us on this stage were doing our best to get Republicans elected across the country and stop the policies of this president from being put forward.” That is just bitchassness. All Romney did these past copule of years is campaign and he places Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann and others above Huntsman because they didn’t serve with Obama.
@Doug Mataconis: “One other phrase comes to mind with regard to this Romney quote. Tone deaf. ”
I suppose, but then we’re left wondering why our politicians appear to be a bunch of slick, teleprompter readers spouting pre-vetted phrases.
@PD Shaw: Thank you.
Lest we forget. Just 7 short months ago…
What does this tell us about Mitt’s learning curve?
I can’t get too worked up over the context, as this couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.
This is just another reason why I wish there was a “Outside the Beltway without Doug Mataconis” option on this site. I have no love for Romney nor any of the other Repub blowhards running, but Doug misquoted him in the headline. Correct it, use elisions to indicate what you cut out, or drop it completely, but man up and make it right.
Now, if only a national pundit/newsperson/blowhard would ask the same thing of Romney…
You know who disagrees with Romney, and doesn’t like the idea of being able to fire people?
And, of course, any and all combinations of the above.
The worst? Public sector unions. It’s virtually impossible to fire some public sector employees, regardless of the cause.
Romney’s point is how important it is to have choice in as many areas as possible. And that means getting rid of people (and, by extension, companies) that don’t measure up. It’s the left that is anti-choice in so many matters. Like, for example, the right to choose whether or not to fire a substandard employee or agency.
Here are a couple of analogies that might highlight why Doug’s headline is dishonest.
“I’m pro-choice. I think women should have the option of getting an abortion.”
“I like abortions.”
“I like the idea of owning a gun to protect myself and my family.”
“I like the thought of shooting people when I can legally justify it.”
Pretty much the same thing, huh?
@Jenos Idanian: Jenos Idanian, I think you nailed it.
@Jenos Idanian: For another candidate maybe, but not Romney. He is on record stating context doesn’t matter, only the words and how they can be twisted. For him, this is basically being honest, there’s quite a long way to go before this would pass what Romney has said is no longer acceptable.
@David M: Shorter Dave: it’s fine to have no ethical standards, as long as I only act that way towards people I don’t like. Also, I like molesting library books.
Hey, your own rules. “It’s cool to lie and misrepresent what people say as long as they do it first.” Well, you’re cool with that towards Romney, then you better be cool when it’s done to you. Otherwise, you’re a HYPOCRITE!!!!!!!!!!
He shhould start with Obama.
The funny thing is that…as Yglesias points out…even the quote taken in full context is dead wrong about how insurance works in the real world…
Romney wants to repeal the PPACA, which prevents insurance companies from dropping sick people and requires pre-existing conditions be insured, and replace it with nothing. So in the case above…and Romneys quote…you would get sick, fire yor insurance company, and then not be able to buy insurance because you have a pre-existing condition.
Too bad the Republicans couldn’t field any real candidates this election cycle.
No, you obviously missed the earlier kerfluffle about an ad Romney’s campaign made attacking Obama. The ad quoted Obama as saying something like “we can’t talk about the economy. If we talk about teh economy we’ll lose.”
That was something Obama said in 2008, repeating what a McCain staffer had said.
So yeah, Obama “said” that. He said it, in the context of attacking McCain’s campaign (though not McCain himself) for saying it during the 2008 campaign.
When challenged, the Romney campaign shrugged and said meh, anything goes. He said it, we’ll use it.
That’s why so many people commenting here are laughing at Mitt, even though this attack (which, btw, is also being made by other GOP candidates) is actually unfair.
I agree it’s unfair and I don’t like it. Partly because of the ethics of it, but also because it masks what I mentioned earlier: Romney’s claim, taken in context, is at odds with reality. If you treat Romney’s quote fairly, it’s just wrong, though much less harmful.
THAT’s what I’d like to discuss. But instead we get this sideshow about whether Romney likes firing people…
I bet he wouldn’t go in office and start firing government workers left and right for providing bad service. If he did there would be hardly anyone left in government . . . well at least Congress 🙂
@Rob in CT: Oh, I didn’t miss it. I just don’t buy into the whole “but he did it first!” BS.
It’s either wrong always, or wrong never.
But if we play it your way, then Obama started it with his lying about the United Citizens case. During his State of the Union address, he said the ruling opened up our elections for contributions to foreign corporations. It did absolutely no such thing, and as a (cough) noted Constitutional scholar (cough cough), he has no right to plead ignorance. Since he started the lying, Romney was in the clear by your rules. Right?
Fair enough: I’m in the always wrong camp. Those are not “my rules.” I reject that. I was simply explaining the attitudes of other commentors, since you appeared (to me) to be ignorant of the context. You say you’re not, fine.
You should know, however, that the claim of “starting the lying” is a little ridiculous to levy against Obama. Or Bush the Younger. Or Clinton. Or Bush the Elder. Or Reagan. Or Carter… and so forth. The lying started before any of us were born.
Which is why, as you know, one must back up and reject “ma! he did it first!”
So, having rejected ma, he did it first, what’s left?
The substance of the quote.
Because, as we all know, in a pre-ACA world, if you’re sick and unhappy with your health insurance, you can simply “fire” them and switch insurers. I mean, it’s not like your having a pre-existing condition would interefere with that. That awful Obamacare, though, makes it so you can’t fire your health insurer!
But all of that is wrong. So, what is honest Mitt talking about?
@Rob in CT: Then, Mr. CT, I’d say that it is not, technically impossible — just really, really difficult under current circumstances. Which is, to me, a call for true, actual health care reform — the abomination that is ObamaCare takes the current situation and will make it far, far worse.
Some say (not you) that ObamaCare won’t nationalize insurance, private insurance is still legal. True enough. But the effect will be to put them out of the business. For example, there are no laws forbidding health insurance for children — but pretty much all the insurance companies looked at the new rules and regulations that cover it, and said “it ain’t worth the headaches — we’ll just get out of the biz entirely.” Technically, they all could continue to offer it — but practically, they couldn’t continue to do so profitably.
Much like Obama’s statement about coal power plants from his campaign — he said he wouldn’t make building new ones illegal, but he’d make it so expensive that any utility that tried would go bankrupt.
I wonder which is more disturbing — the times Obama just out and out lies (the Citizens United case, gay marriage) or the times he comes out and says the truth.
Anyway, back to your point — I’d say that what Romney said in general was quite laudable. The specifics are very, very gray, but just accurate enough to be defensible. (Employees can exert some influence over their employers on choosing insurers, but it’s very limited.) ObamaCare as a solution is the equivalent of treating a brain tumor by amputation.
@Jenos Idanian: I’m pretty sure the idea that nearly all companies stopped providing children’s health insurance is complete BS, especially without a link to it. We do know that Obamacare is providing insurance to more young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents policies longer. It also makes no sense as a criticism of Obamacare as there’s no reason you couldn’t buy health insurance for a child on the exchanges when they are running next year.
Also, Medicare and Medicaid are currently keeping health care costs down compared to private insurance, so why should I be sad about the insurance companies profits?
No, he’s exactly right. Possibly the first thing he’s ever said that I’ve liked.
What are you talking about? Seriously. You and I have very different ideas as to what “Obamacare” does/will do.
The big health insurers got on board with the ACA (a major liberal/progressive complaint, actually, is that the reform was a huge sellout to the industry), so I rather doubt they figure it’ll put them out of business. No, it will get them more customers via the mandate. The mandate is part of the tradeoff that was made to get concessions on the scope of coverage. The mandate pushes young/healthy people to buy insurance. This is a boon to the private insurers, who make money on such people while losing it on old/sick people (though the oldest/sickest are of course dealt with via Medicare). It helps offset the hit they take by paying for pre-existing conditions and such. It was a compromise.
The basic deal was: near-universal coverage (including covering pre-existing conditions and subsidizing those who will struggle to pay) in exchange for pushing nearly everyone (under 65 and not eligible for Medicaid) to buy insurance from the private insurers.
At the end of the day, I think it’s fair to look at our system, post-ACA, and say “meh, it kinda stinks.” That’s defensible. But I also think that most of that stink is a pre-existing condition 😉
Now, will it hold up? Will we stick with our odd Rube-Goldberg machine of a healthcare system? Will we end up going with a single-payer system like the rest of the 1st world, or will we end up going in the other direction (Wyden/Ryan?)? I really don’t know.
@David M: Would you accept the Washington Post, David?
Some of the country’s most prominent health insurance companies have decided to stop offering new child-only plans, rather than comply with rules in the new health-care law that will require such plans to start accepting children with preexisting medical conditions after Sept. 23.
The feds said “follow these rules if you want to do business in this field.” And they said “fine, screw that; we won’t do that any more.”
Doctors are doing that, too. A lot are refusing new Medicare patients, as they literally lose money on them. Others are changing to less-regulated specialties or retiring.
@Jenos Idanian: That’s a pretty good article on why for profit insurance companies shouldn’t exist because eliminating discrimination against people with preexisting conditions was a long overdue reform.
It’s too bad more states didn’t take action like Washington, Oregon and Colorado to keep the policies available. So the insurance companies only stopped offering child policies where lawmakers were unwilling to look out for their citizens rather than the insurance companies.
Very true…so when will you be criticizing Romney in the same way you criticized Doug?
Indeed! A single-payer system would be a much better solution…
Jenos Idanian, I may be wrong, but I suspect you are getting your talking points from right wing publications and radio talk show hosts, as well as Fox news. Objectively, these sources are not providing insight, but rather sifting through facts, half truths and lies and pulling out a few nuggets they think will enhance their talking points. My point of view (and I don’t expect you to simply accept it) is as someone who tries to understand the two major healthcare reform acts for job related reasons, and who has no dog in the fight other than to help make sure my company understands the impacts on our business. And from my point of view the right wingers simply have no connection with reality when it comes to these reforms. I actively avoid them, because the odds are that if I use one of the points I will end up looking like a fool if I mention it in front of people who actually know what they are talking about, such as Hospitals who are actually complying with the regulations.
As to your two specific points:
1) “Doctors refusing to take Medicare.” Yes this happens, but a) what the heck does that have to do with the healthcare reform acts? b) There are most certainly doctors, and especially dentists, that have decided to no longer accept any private insurance. Instead, you pay them, and they will help you fill out the forms to get reimbursed by your insurance provider, and c) both above are anecdotal. What are the real trends with respect to Medicare/Medicaid usage and acceptance? I know the most about Hospitals and for them Medicare (and the much smaller Medicaid) will soon make up more than half of their reimbursements. In fact, projecting the trend line out to 2020, it may be as much as 60% by then. These are then numbers the hospitals are basing their business plans on, not some right-wingers hot air.
2) “Insurers are dropping plans because they must accept people with pre-existing conditions. ” Specifically they are dropping child only plans. This is something that will need to be fixed, perhaps by expanding medicare/medicaid or perhaps some other method. Of course the Repubs, who want healthcare reform to fail, will do everything they can to prevent meaningful fixes, all the while stuffing their pockets with “campaign funds” from the insurance providers.
@MarkedMan: You might quibble on some finer points, and I’ll cheerfully concede you’re probably right on them. But I’m looking at the big picture and the trends.
Obama talks about making the health care system better, and puts in specific changes. Folks on the other side say that his attempted fixes will actually make things worse. And the predictions tend to come true.
1) Obama says “we’ll reform child health insurance to make it easier on parents and better for children.” He puts in new rules, and the insurers say “no thanks, if that’s how it has to be, we won’t offer those any more.” Net result: fewer options for patients.
2) Obama says “we’ll reform Medicare to cut costs and waste and fraud.” Bunches of doctors say “under those rules, we’ll actually lose money on Medicare patients” and decide to opt out (to various degress) of the program. Net result: fewer options for patients.
3) Obama says “we’ll overhaul the whole health care financing system to make it cheaper and easier for people, and it’ll be a wonderful thing.” Doctors start looking at the changes and say “you know, this ain’t what I signed up for. I’m losing money and independence, so I quit.” Net result: fewer options for patients.
Go ahead and call these “talking points.” Call them “propaganda.” “That which we call a rose…” It doesn’t change the fact that a lot of right-wing observers and commentators looked at Obama’s plans and predicted precisely what did happen.
I won’t repeat what I said earlier; I’ll expand upon it. Obama is simply too arrogant to admit that he’s not the smartest person in the world, and was never smart enough to surround himself with people who were not only smarter than him in their areas of specialty, but courageous enough to tell him when he’s wrong.
Let me toss in a new Obama reality: his EPA is poised to shut down roughly 10% of the nation’s electricity generation by imposing new pollution regulations on coal-fired plants. Who here is willing to cut their personal electricity use by 10% to comply with this new policy?
Jenos Idanian, for the record, those are not fine points. You believe what you want to believe but correlation is not causality.
Most important point: Everyone, including Obama, who understands the size and scope of the two healthcare reform laws has said that adjustments will need to be made. Repubs don’t want to make those adjustments, they want it to be a miserable failure.
Now, as to your points:
1) The net change for children under the new rule has been positive – more children (actually, young adults) are being covered under their parents plan. You’ve indicated one group, one that I suspect is very small, that has suffered in some states: people that are looking for private, non-company sponsored insurance to cover children, but not themselves. I agree that this needs to be fixed but… see above. Take away – you are pulling out the negative effects and highlighting them, but do not seem to have any interest in looking at how the reforms are working in aggregate, i.e. when taking all the negatives and positives into account.
2) Medicare has not had a major reform under Obama. He does have a major initiative to reduce fraud, which I assume you are in favor of. (If not, why not?) So why are you blaming this on healthcare reform? As I pointed out in my reply above, yes there are individual doctors that are rejecting Medicare patients, just as there are individual doctors that reject private insurers. But the trend is not in question: every year a higher percentage of patient visits are covered by Medicare/Medicaid. That’s a fact. There may be some way to account for that fact other than admitting you were wrong, but you haven’t presented it here.
3) There is a very real and possibly problematic trend – more and more physicians are closing their private practices and becoming employees of healthcare groups, hospitals etc. Now, I can’t say for certain what the main reason behind that is, but I can tell you that the consultants who are studying this indicate that it has to do with a) the hassles of insurance in general, with it being a truism in the industry that private insurers are significantly more difficult to deal with than Medicare/Medicaid, b) the difficulty in managing a modern practice as compared to the “one doctor, one nurse and a stack of old magazines” models of days gone by. My last doctor in the US had six doctors, two nurse practitioners, three offices and twenty or thirty people in admin (more than half of which were dealing with private insurers, and c) the very risky proposition for a self employed specialist – example: in the 70’s and 80’s cardiac surgeons were the gods of the professions, they held a beating heart in their hands every day. Then along came stenting and suddenly technicians ten miles form an operating room were taking away 95% of their business.
@MarkedMan: We’re getting further and further away from the topic (how Mr. Mataconis, by using a false headline and not declaring it was done for ironic intent, has put a hefty dent in his reputation), but I think as long as we’re being civil, I think it should fly. Let me answer your points:
I reject this. I doubt anyone really understands the health care financing “reform” laws (yeah, wise-ass emphasis added — sorry) in their full size and scope. Obama, you may recall, accused doctors of performing unnecessary surgeries and amputations for profit. (Tonsillectomies and diabetic’s feet, to be specific.) And Nancy Pelosi famously said about the bill, “you’ll have to pass it to see what’s in it.” With the two prime backers of the bills saying that, I have less than zero faith that they understand it in any meaningful degree. I’d even go so far as to say that as long as it’s called “reform,” that’s all they care about.
Yeah, I cut your part about how it needs to be fixed, but my points are this: 1) this smacks of the “omelet” argument, which really, really sucks for the eggs, and 2) that such problems are being discovered goes to the first point — that the backers don’t really understand what the hell they’re doing, and don’t care.
Are you kidding? Fraud is as American as apple pie! Only a godless commie or crypto-Muslim would want to get rid of fraud!
Sorry, couldn’t resist. And with Medicare, it’s part and parcel of the whole “reform” thing. Medicare has had big problems for a long time, and Obama — by focusing on his monstrosity — has let it get worse and worse. Adding to the problem, he intends to expand it in the future.
I’d also say that the increasing percentage of visits it covers, coupled with the decreasing number of providers accepting it, is actually a bad thing. The model is “X is what we’ll pay for that; take it or leave it.” And “X” is, taking inflation and whatnot into account, is less and less. So therefore, the incentive for doctors to take “X” is going down.
On your final point: I won’t quibble with your statements, but I will quibble with your conclusions.
The “complexity” of dealing with private insurance vs. Medicare/Medicaid is a good one, but there are a couple of factors you don’t take into account. For one, the insurance companies can often be negotiated with into paying more, so the extra work is sometimes worth it. For another, it doesn’t take into account the doctor’s right to choose — he or she might have philosophical or other objections to having the government be his patient, for billing purposes (I can think of several) and simply prefer to deal with private entities, even if it does affect his or her bottom line somewhat.
Finally, the stent example — I’m not totally familiar with their history, but I’d cheerfully wager that didn’t come out of a government research program, but the private sector. Oh, government funding might have played a role, but the actual work? I’d be astonished if they came out of a government laboratory, staffed by civil servant employees.
Back to the original topic. Isn’t it a shame that Mr. Mataconis shot such a big hole in his foot with this article?
Jenos Idianian (BTW, do you search for the Kar of the Vocenant?)
First, I whole heatedly endorse your last point: Matacontis issued his usual trolling headline and we both got sucked in. Normally, I ignore everything with his name on it but there are no bylines on the “Quick Takes” until you click through.
As for the rest, i think we’ve both had our says and neither has changed the other’s mind so let’s leave at that. I will only expand on your new comment about stenting and say this: given that it is a device and not a procedure or a drug, there is a reasonable but not overwhelming chance you are correct and that it was a private sector initiative. But truly new drugs and truly new procedures: the innovation is almost always done on the public’s dime. In fact, a truly new drug absolutely will not come out of any drug company R&D company effort except by accident. It’s not that they are incompetent or evil, it’s simply that the return on creating yet another 3-times-a-day-for-the-rest-of-your-life anti-cholesterol drug or non-steroidal pain reliever is so much higher, and the risk so much lower, than producing a 1-and-you’re-done cure that the latter will simply not be funded by an entity primarily concerned with return on investment. And before you wham me with a withering counter-example or two, check them out and I think you’ll find that they started out as off label uses of existing drugs, not new ones.