As you may already know, Mitt Romney made a campaign appearance in which he talked about going to a branch of the convenience-store chain Wawa, where -- to Romney's amazement -- you can choose a sandwich using a touchscreen. An edited clip of Romney's Wawa remarks played on an MSNBC daytime show and made him appear as if he's out of touch with ordinary people's lives:
But it turns out that Romney wasn't calling this Wawa touchscreen service "amazing" because it was foreign to him -- he was making a point about innovation in the private sector and the lack thereof in the public sector. You see, if you want to do a change of address for your small business, you have to fill out 33 pages of forms -- repeatedly! Public sector sucks, private sector rules! MSNBC sucks, Romney rules! End of story!
Nope. There's more to talk about here. Romney is making a preposterous apples-to-oranges comparison. Here's the longer clip:
Notice what Romney says, starting at about 2:02. I'll highlight the point where he starts trying to pull the wool over your eyes:
I met an optometrist this morning ... and this optometrist wanted to change his billing address. He'd moved his office from one side of town to the other -- same zip code, same post office -- but he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government -- this is so he can get reimbursement from the federal government for the services he provides for the poor and seniors.See what he did there?
The form he gets to change addresses is 33 pages long -- 33 pages long! He calls someone to ask how to fill it out -- he calls someone in government. They tell him what to do. He sends it in. They send it back -- wasn't done right, gotta do it again, another 33 pages. He calls another person. They tell him what to do. Doesn't get it right the second time. Third time's the charm, though.
This takes several months, during which time he's not getting the checks for the work he's doing for people who need his care. That's how government works.
Then I was at a Wawa's. I went to order a sandwich. You press the little touch-tone keypad, all right? You just touch that, and, you know, that sandwich comes, you just touch this, touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier, there's your sandwich. It's amazing! People in the private sector have learned how to compete! It's time to bring some competition to the federal government and get it smaller, and respond to the customers, which are you!
He lulled you with words about the post office and the zip code and all that. He wants you to think you have to fill out a 33-page form to register a business change of address with the post office. (Nonsense -- you can do it online, and the form is no more onerous than a typical online shopping form.)
This optometrist had a lot of pages to fill out because he's providing Medicare and Medicaid services.
(Note what Romney says -- "this is so he can get reimbursement from the federal government for the services he provides for the poor and seniors.")
Do we not have Medicare and Medicaid fraud in this country? Do you think we might have a bit more Medicare and Medicaid fraud if we applied the same level of scrutiny to providers' records that we have for ordering a sandwich at a convenience store?
Oh, and does Romney seriously think that private-sector health care is a low-paperwork enterprise?
I think everyone in America with private-sector insurance could disabuse him of that notion.
There's a lot about this clip that infuriates me. In the first part of it, he brags about knowing how to innovate because when he was governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to poach Massachusetts companies and he tried to poach California companies. Why are we supposed to think that's a good thing? We're competing with other countries, but we're focused on stealing jobs from other states, which adds zero to the number of net jobs in America. The main benefit is to companies, which get bigger and bigger tax breaks, starving the state and local beast so potholes go unfilled and schools go underfunded. And many of those companies grab the tax breaks, stay a few years, then skip town anyway. That's a system Romney is proud of?
UPDATE: OK -- Tommy Christopher of Mediaite found the Medicaid service provider change of address form and it's (PDF) two pages long, plus two pages of instructions. Four -- not 33.
Maybe Romney's optometrist pal is confusing this with a form from, say, Aetna or United Health.
AND: Hmmm, maybe Romney really does want Medicare/Medicaid oversight to be at a convenience-store level.