DENVER, October 4, 2012, ( – Last night, the nation’s voters witnessed a presidential debate on domestic policy that did not include a single question about abortion, marriage, the HHS mandate, creeping encroachments on religious liberty, or the one-to-three justices the next president may appoint to the Supreme Court.


However, in a smashingly successful performance, Mitt Romney raised the issues of health care rationing, religious liberty, and the government’s foremost responsibility: safeguarding life. 

In the debate on the campus of the University of Denver, where the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) and Planned Parenthood Votes (PPVotes) opened an ad blitz against the Republican nominee, Romney encapsulated his views of the role of government by referring to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. 

“First, life and liberty. We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people,” Romney said, tying this to the need to maintain a strong military. “Second, in that line that says ‘we are endowed by our Creator with our rights,’ I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country.”

The line may have been a subtle dig at the president, who has a history of omitting the words “by our Creator” from references to the Declaration.

The rest of Romney’s attacks were less subtle.

During an exchange over the president’s health care plan, Romney took aim squarely at the potential for rationing. “We don’t need to have a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have,” he said.

He meant the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which President Obama described as “a group of health care experts, doctors, etc. [who meet] to figure out, how can we reduce the cost of care in the system overall?”

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IPAB, whose members’ decisions about health care are fast-tracked by become law with no amendment and little oversight, cannot be annulled until 2017, and then only with a supermajority of both houses of Congress, even if the entire health care plan is repealed. 

Critics are concerned the rush to keep prices low, while adding millions of newly insured Americans and decreasing the number of doctors, will lead to British-style denial of care.

President Obama attempted to assuage those fears, saying, “this board that we’re talking about can’t make decisions about what treatments are given. That’s explicitly prohibited in the law.”

However, former American Medical Association President Donald Palmisano warned in March, “there is little reason to believe these rules won’t be changed — or at least stretched — down the road as costs continue to balloon and political dynamics change.”

Indeed, President Obama has suggested “strengthening” IPAB’s already significant, if undemocratic, power. 

Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN, has joined with legislators as diverse as Barney Frank to introduce a measure repealing the IPAB, which he calls the “real death panel.” 

Romney made clear he opposed the board for philosophical as well as practical reasons. “In my opinion, the government is not effective in bringing down the cost of almost anything,” he said. “As a matter of fact, free people and free enterprises trying to find ways to do things better are able to be more effective in bringing down the cost than the government will ever be.”