A more serious Mitt Romney?: 'Bold,' 'astute' speech draws wide praise

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 3:00 p.m. MST

"The Romney approach sets up a prudent experiment," Brooks wrote. "If real competition works, seniors will migrate toward that. If it doesn't, seniors will stay in Medicare, and conservatives will have a lot of rethinking to do."

Ryan endorsed the plan, one proposed by a former Clinton budget chief and former New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici.

"Alice Rivlin has been pushing this for a while," Ryan told National Review Online. "It works just as well as the other ideas. It's different than what we have proposed, but it's a fixed amount that you can take to either your private plans or a traditional fee-for-service system. As far as budget savings and driving patient-centered reforms, it still accomplishes that goal."

It also accomplishes a campaign strategy.

"The plan allows Romney to justly claim that he is helping to lead the fight against runaway health-care spending," Forbes health care policy analyst Avik Roy wrote. "And that, in turn, may help Romney get a second look from the skeptical Republican base."

Beyond the primary, it also may help Romney blunt a potential Obama attack, wrote Brooks and the Journal. By allowing seniors to choose between a fixed amount for Medicare or for their own shopping for health care, Romney blocks Obama from saying he is out to kill Medicare.

Slate public policy reporter David Weigel called the speech "Romney's bid to become the credible entitlement reformer who won't waste a Republican mandate in 2012."

Romney's fiscal policy speech was also a positive for the Republican Party, Commentary's Peter Wehner wrote: "All the GOP candidates have now endorsed, at least in some significant measure, some version of the plan laid out by Representative Paul Ryan and/or former Senator Pete Domenici and former Clinton OMB Director Alice Rivlin, with Romney's being the most specific and detailed. ... More broadly, at a time when politicians are excoriated for their lack of courage and unwillingness to grapple with the most significant problems facing the nation, the Republican Party deserves credit. On entitlement reform, which has historically been politically lethal, the GOP is doing the right thing."

Conservative analyst and journalist Yuval Levin, writing for the National Review Online, approved of Romney's proposals and said that "if he combines this with an equally serious and straightforward tax-reform agenda as part of a plan to encourage economic growth and job creation, Romney could really claim the mantle of the conservative reformer in this race.

To read the full speech, visit Romney's website.

Of course, not everyone was convinced. Most all who praised Romney's plans asked for more detail.

And Reason blogger Peter Suderman blasted Romney's ideas on Medicare as "ObamaCare for seniors — but with the addition of a government-run 'public option,' also known as traditional Medicare. The plan bears all of the now-familiar hallmarks of a Romney policy proposal. It's vague. It's designed for maximum pandering. And Romney was against it before he was for it."

Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller attacked Romney's substance and delivery, complaining that he used a teleprompter.

"Governor Romney's plan that protects subsidies, the Defense Department, and nibbles around the edges on entitlements leaves no doubt that he has no realistic plan or intention to honestly balance the budget," Miller said.

Huntsman backs the Ryan plan and supports defense cuts.