Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, running for the Republican nomination for president, gave the dinner speech Saturday at the National Review Institute’s summit, remarks that drew attention and media coverage because of the perceived need for Romney to appeal to conservatives within the party. (This New York Times story offers the conventional, and not unfair, wisdom.) His speech was certainly thorough, complete, information-laden, and, uh…did we say thorough? He hit a full range of topics over 52 minutes.
Kathryn Jean Lopez of The National Review Online, a Romney fan, provides a good summary of his remarks here (although she heard more positive reaction than we did).
Romney spent quite a bit of time extolling his health care plan — requiring Massachusetts adults to buy health insurance — as an example of imposing market discipline on the health care sector. He wrote about the plan in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last April. (Also available at the conference was a report by Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute: Questionable Cure for a Questionable Crisis: The Massachusetts Health Plan Takes Shape.)
Indeed, health care figured prominently in comments throughout the weekend summit. Romney raised it as part of a broad and important discussion of U.S. global economic competitiveness in the context of taxes, education, technology and tort reform. It’s clear his background in business gives Romney a keen understanding of these issues, of tremendous importance to manufacturers.
His discussion of technology and tort reform was particularly on point, earning Romney a good round of applause. For a transcript of that portion of his remarks, see the extended entry.
A smaller nation stays ahead by being more innovative and pursuing technology, and unfortunately, we have been disinvesting in technology. Our corporations have been doing it, and even at the governmental level. Look, where we invest in technology, we lead the world. We invest in technology in defense products, defense technology, basic research and lead the world. Space technology — lead the world. Health care technology — lead the world. We ought to do the same thing in power generation, fuel technologies, and materials sciences, basic science at the university level, and the research level.
And yet, do you realize last year American corporations spent more money defending tort claims than on research and development in total? This tort liability is not just a nicety, this is an essential element at a national level. By the way, there are some people out there that say, oh, it should be done at the state level. Each state should have their own tort liability. You know what that means. That means that the plaintiff’s bar has gotten to them … because they have some states they know where everything will be just fine for the plaintiff’s bar. They only need one or two states to be able to sue McDonalds and Texaco and General Motors and Toyota and so forth and so on. No, you have to go to the national level to make sure that we put an end to this extraordinary burden on our employers.
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