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Mitt Romney

Politico's Maggie Haberman:

Mitt Romney: Proud of Massachusetts health care law

Mitt Romney rejected Mike Huckabee's call for him to admit that the "RomneyCare" health care program failed, instead saying he's "proud" of "getting everyone covered" when he was governor of Massachusetts.

"Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered,” Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, told the Boston Globe, in the first direct response Team Mitt made to Huckabee's criticism of the health plan in his new book.

As everybody knows, the problem for Mitt Romney is that his health care plan contained the very same individual mandate that he now claims is unconstitutional. Yesterday, his campaign explained why Romney is proud of RomneyCare but is opposed to President Obama's plan:

"What's important now is to return to the states the power to determine their own healthcare solutions by repealing Obamacare," Fehrnstrom added. "A one-size-fits-all plan for the entire nation just doesn't work."

One problem with this argument is that it ignores the fact that the health care reform law contains a waiver process allowing states to devise their own solutions -- so long as they provide insurance to all their residents. So while this bill does require near-universal coverage, it does give states the freedom to experiment on how to achieve that goal.

Another flaw with this argument is that it leaves Romney with the so-called Broccoli Problem. The Broccoli Problem is the centerpiece of the conservative argument against the constitutionality of health care reform. They argue that if the commerce clause gives the federal government authority to force people to buy health care, it gives the federal government authority to force people to buy anything -- even broccoli.

Now this is a bullshit argument. Those who believe the individual mandate is constitutional do not believe the government has the authority to force the public to buy broccoli. Health insurance is a unique commodity because everybody gets some form of health care whether or not they have insurance. As Judge Gladys Kessler argued in her ruling upholding the individual mandate, the decision to not buy health insurance is every bit as significant to commerce as the decision to buy insurance. The same can't be said of broccoli.

But Mitt Romney says he disagrees with Kessler's ruling. He says he believes the individual mandate is unconstitutional. In other words, Mitt Romney accepts the broccoli argument. If government has the power to force people to buy health insurance, he believes, then government has the authority to force people to buy anything -- including broccoli.

The thing is, Mitt Romney imposed a mandate at the state level. And if he really believes the individual mandate is unconstitutional at the federal level, that means he believes that state governments have the right to force their residents to buy broccoli -- or anything else.

Of course the real truth is that Mitt Romney is just doing and saying whatever it takes to advance his political career in the GOP. In other words, he's lying through his teeth.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well I like broccoli. But we should FORCE FEED it (5+ / 0-) "these people."

    Whether they like it or not.


    "This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

    by itzik shpitzik on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:27:01 AM PST

  •  States have plenary power (7+ / 0-)

    So states can require you to buy broccoli.  Not even controversial.

    On the other hand, it is also not controversial that the Federal government is a government of enumerated powers and therefore cannot do certain things which the states can.

    The "broccoli argument" is a simple illustration of the second fact:  in defending the healthcare law, one must be able to articulate continuing limits on Congressional power under the commerce clause.  

    •  Not controversial? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wsexson, RethinkEverything, hmi

      I know that the state can require me to insure my daughter if she participates in athletics at school (she does),

      I know that they can require me to get physicals for both of my school-aged kids.

      They can even make my buy insurance if I want to drive and get a permit if I want to build a house.

      But -- I don't understand the power that can let them send a cop to my house if I don't buy broccoli.

      Is there any limitation on that power?
      What if I'm allergic to broccoli?
      What if I can't afford to buy broccoli?
      Can I be imprisoned for the simple act of existing without broccoli?

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:48:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  General Police Power (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SMWalt, hmi

        The states have general power to do anything except where:

        (1) specifically forbidden by the Constitution (e.g. states cannot coin money)

        (2) generally forbidden by the Constitution (e.g. the First Amendment prohibitions on restricting freedom of speech)


        (3) forbidden by the relevant State Constitution.

        Economic regulations of the you must or may not buy x variety are reviewed under the rational basis test; which means (usually) that if anyone can think of a rational reason why the law should exist, it does not offend the Constitution.

        So, the states can (absent a provision of the state constitution which says otherwise)  require you to buy broccoli or get vaccinated or the items in your list.  All of these things are ultimately from the same source of general police power.  

        •  Do you have an example of a state that (0+ / 0-)

          has required people to buy something for the simple act of being that has withstood Supreme Court scrutiny?

          The Massachusetts mandate would come under that category, but I'm not aware of it coming before the Supreme Court.

          That obviously would not include something like car insurance -- which is a pre-requisite for the grant of a privilege.

          Vaccinations for school-aged children come pretty close, because kids are almost required to go to school (and, honestly, in most places, only almost required to get vaccinated).

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 12:37:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Most state constituions limit their power (0+ / 0-)

        But the point is there is no federal constitutional limitation on the state power, other than those enumerated.  So, if the state constitution allows it, the state could force you to buy broccoli.  Or not eat meat on Fridays presumably.  

  •  I am not so sure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RethinkEverything, Loge

    that the government doesn't have the right to require people to buy broccoli.

    •  I think it matters why you do it, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in Wickard, the government essentially required farmers to buy bread by prohibiting them from using wheat for home consumption, but that was because the provision was part of a price-support scheme.  

      As long as the issue is interstate commerce, what a state does, under a state constitution is completely irrelevant.  I don't see the hypocrisy.  The spokesman made this point taking about state-by-state approaches.  The waiver discussed in the story does not cure any Constitutional problems from a commerce clause point of view.

      But, politically, it's not a winning argument.  And as long as Romney defends the individual mandate at the state level, he'd be hard pressed to argue that it's unconstitutional to the extent he saw the mandate at the state level as being essential to the program's overall design.  Not impossible, but difficult.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:49:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's one thing to say the broccoli argument is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, Justanothernyer, hmi, Icallbull

    bullshit, but what is your basis for saying that?

    I don't think anybody wants to make us buy broccoli, but, if the commerce clause can make us buy insurance from providers because our failure to purchase it has an impact on interstate commerce, what principle keeps the government from requiring us to buy broccoli, or American-made toasters, or anything else?

    "They don't want to do that" is nice to know, but not nearly so comforting as "They can't do that."

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:29:25 AM PST

  •  Broccoli makes me gassey. Just felt like sharing. (4+ / 0-)

    No home. No job. No peace. No rest.

    by A Runner on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:30:10 AM PST

    •  Ya gotta deep fry it first. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Or drench it in chocolate.  Might still make you gassy, but at least, then it will be worth it.

      Umm, that's PRESIDENT Obama and SENATOR Franken, mr. o'reilly.

      by filby on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:33:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Granted, I may be asking for TMI here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but do you chew your food? I mean, more than a couple times before swallowing. Broccoli very low in sugar and other carbs, and has virtually no starch. So it can't be that. It does, in raw form, contains a lot of oxygen/CO2, as a stalky green plant would. That's why when you steam or boil it, it turns a vivid green at first and then turns a darker green--that vivid green is from all the oxygen/CO2 escaping from the cells that are beginning to break down from the heat. So if cooked to just past that vivid green stage, much of the oxygen/CO2 will have escaped. The only thing left is for you to chew it well enough to break down any more intact cell walls to release any remaining oxygen/CO2, and viola--broccoli by then is a very digestible food.

      Seriously, a lot of people's "gas" issues could be eased by simply chewing one's food better.

      Of course, this would not account for any pre-existing GI issue you may have.

  •  C'mon, Mike and Mitt, kiss and make up! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You can at least agree on the mistreatment of man's best friend!  (Mitt, with the dog on top of the car and Mike with his son's actions in 1998 at the Boy Scout camp).

    Umm, that's PRESIDENT Obama and SENATOR Franken, mr. o'reilly.

    by filby on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:31:01 AM PST

  •  I don't get the argument (7+ / 0-)

    I hate to defend Mittens, but I think his stance is at least legally and logically consistent.

    He says that the commerce clause (or any other section) doesn't give the feds the right to make us buy a product. That goes for health care, broccoli, or anything else. I and several judges disagree, but thats his argument.

    But the state of Massachusetts has a different constiution. Maybe it is specifically allowed to mandate things (car insurance comes to mind) and disallowed from mandating others (broccoli buying).

    But it certainly isn't a given that just because he thinks the US constitution doesn't allow the government to mandate buying things, that that doesn't mean states can't mandate buying some things and not others (or even that the state constitution of Massachusetts would allow their gov't to mandate broccoli buying.)

    •  It is logically consistent... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Robobagpiper, fayea

      but relies on a commerce clause jurisprudence that died in 1937. Re-imagining the commerce clause/due process in this fashion would mark a return to the Lochner era.

      ""...Liberty is no mere formula of law, or of the restriction of law. There may be a tyranny of custom, a tyranny of opinion, even a tyranny of circumstance, as real as any tyranny of government and more pervasive."

      by joshuadivine on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:35:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Died a few year later (0+ / 0-)

        The problematic case for those opposing PPACA is Wickard which is from 1942.

        It is certainly possible to invalidate PPACA without going all the way back to the 1930s but it is difficult to do so without going back to the 1940s.

        Also, PPACA invalidation would not require any change in the due process clause jurisprudence, so the reference to Lochner would seem inapposite.

        •  Indeed: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'm just generally referring to the judiciary imposing meaningful constraints on federal economic powers.

          ""...Liberty is no mere formula of law, or of the restriction of law. There may be a tyranny of custom, a tyranny of opinion, even a tyranny of circumstance, as real as any tyranny of government and more pervasive."

          by joshuadivine on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 12:15:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  If he's going to go down that road, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      he has to say the individual mandate in Mass. wasn't essential to the design of the program.  That's the only way that he doesn't get stuck inadvertently defending the federal statute's Constitutionality.  But, politically, that means he's saying he signed the individual mandate on a whim, or for the substance-less reason that "it fit Massachuetts."  

      That's called winning the battle but losing the war.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:52:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  'RomneyCare'.....break out the checkbook (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, RethinkEverything've been marked.

  •  Everyone has a body (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Therefore, everyone has "health" to attempt to preserve and maintain.

  •  Government should control your womb. (3+ / 0-)

    Government should dictate how you contract for your job.

    Government should let you pick out what goes in your shopping cart.

    Government should not be concerned with reform of insurance corporations.

  •  Not Lying (5+ / 0-)

    George Costanza explained the ability of a complete sociopath to tell lies and not have it registered on a lie detector:  "Remember, it is not a lie if YOU believe it."

    Mitt believes that he is destined/entitled to be President.  He believes that he has the right to say anything at all he needs to say to achieve that destiny.  He does not care one way or the other if he said the exact opposite thing 10 years ago or 1 hour ago, at this exact moment he is entitled to say whatever he is saying, so he 100% believes it.  

    So, no lie.
    Plus, with teeth that large and white, how could any lie or other words get "through" those chompers?

  •  As spokesidiot for former Gov Palin, (3+ / 0-)

    I just wanna say how appalled I am that FLOTUS Michele Obama is banning the sale of Twinkies and is now requiring that all school children be force fed broccoli.  Why does she hate our freedom?

    Umm, that's PRESIDENT Obama and SENATOR Franken, mr. o'reilly.

    by filby on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:35:37 AM PST

  •  This latter comment is certainly true. (6+ / 0-)
    Of course the real truth is that Mitt Romney is just doing and saying whatever it takes to advance his political career in the GOP.

    If Romney thought it would make him President, he would divorce his wife and gay marry Mike Huckabee. Romney has no principles whatsoever.

  •  But then, reality doesn't matter (0+ / 0-)

    in the modern Republican Party. Particularly policy proposal reality.

    ""...Liberty is no mere formula of law, or of the restriction of law. There may be a tyranny of custom, a tyranny of opinion, even a tyranny of circumstance, as real as any tyranny of government and more pervasive."

    by joshuadivine on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:37:01 AM PST

  •  RomneyCare= Romney's Preexisting conditions (4+ / 0-)

    Republicans secret dream = the impeachment of Bo the Dog LOL

    by LaurenMonica on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:37:09 AM PST

  •  Haven't you heard of the Tenthers? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Miles, fayea, Icallbull

    It is absolutely standard Tenther doctrine that there are a whole lot of powers that are retained by state govts that the federal govt cannot intrude upon.  It is absolutely not even slightly against logic, not at all against their ideology, to claim that it is perfectly within the power of a state to set up something like Obamacre just for itself, but that the federal govt, precisely because this is a state power, is not allowed to implement the same plan throughout the Union.  That's the whole point of Tentherism.

    You may not agree with these people about the Tenth being a good idea.  I don't.  I think it should have been repealed after the Civil War.

    You may not agree with them on how they interpret the Tenth.  I can't be so categorical on that point, which is why I would prefer to get rid of the Tenth.  I think they have a point about it and the Supremacy Clause coming to an impasse.  I say we keep the Supremacy Clause and ditch the Tenth, the Tenthers say the Clause yields to the Tenth -- but most people just refuse to ackowledge there's a conflict, and see no reason not to keep both.

    However you stand on the Tenth, there is no  excuse for not understanding a very widespread view of it popular on the other side.  My views are quirky enough to be safely ignored.  But if you're going to accuse someone on the other side of being hypocritical, when a mere passing familiarity with their doctrine would relieve the apparent contradiction, all you do is shoot your own credibility, and make obvious your lack of command of the issues.  You need to be attacking their position, not displaying ignorance of it.

    We should have destroyed the presidency before Obama took office. Too late now.

    by gtomkins on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:42:47 AM PST

    •  What They Really Want is the Articles of Confeder- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ation restored. Some of them state that publicly.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:51:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Would that it were so (0+ / 0-)

        If we actually had a functioning system of divided sovereignty, that would at least permit we sane people to do things our way chez nous, while those crazy people could do their own crazy things in the privacy of their Red states, hopefully with the shades drawn.

        Not that divided sovereignty could actually be made to work, and result in a stable Union.  Had we not abandoned divided sovereignty in practice, we would have split apart long ago.  Again, good riddance to the crazy people, aside from little details such as the problem of the non-crazy stuck by accident of birth in a Red state.

        But the Tenthers don't want to use the Tenth honestly, if foolishly, to advance separatism.  To them, it just provides another way to forum shop decisions at the federal level, which is the only place they see as their govt.  They get to do what they want in their own Red states, and they get to use the federal govt to keep us doing what they want in our own states.

        We should have destroyed the presidency before Obama took office. Too late now.

        by gtomkins on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 01:07:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Broccoli? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SMWalt, fayea


    The proximate cause of my .sig!

    "If it's made of plants, eat it. If it's made in a plant, don't."

    by b00g13p0p on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:45:29 AM PST

  •  I thought you were going to make (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wsexson, SMWalt, fayea

    an analogy to Bush I's "broccoli problem"

    Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

    by jam on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:45:50 AM PST

  •  Typical flip flop Mitt.n/t (0+ / 0-)

    The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people. Noam Chomsky

    by willkath on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:49:30 AM PST

  •  State power (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I agree with several commenters above.  You can't really address whether there is a contradiction here without acknowledging the differences between federal vs. state power.


    Cardinal’s Law: As the terms “red” and “blue” increase in a given diary, the probability of logical fallacies and factual errors approaches 1.

    by cardinal on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:49:40 AM PST

  •  Mitt's real problem is that his real audience (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SMWalt, dhshoops, RethinkEverything

    at this point is the Republican/Tea Party Base primary voters.

    Let''s see a show of hands of those who think this Base will sit still to listen to distinctions between State powers vs Federal powers vs broccoli?!

    Mitt's toast.

    Join us at the Amateur Radio Group. Serving the Left Side of the Dial since 2011.

    by briefer on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 11:52:15 AM PST

    •  The tenther's get it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but most people don't.

      And I agree with gtomkins that the 10th was a bad idea.  It's irrelevant.  If the power wasn't enumerated, it doesn't exist.  Period.  There is no need for an amendment saying it again.

      For a long time, it just kind of hung there like a healthy appendix, and now it's become infected with tenthers.  It ought to be cut out before it bursts.

  •  The govt is already forcing me to buy broccoli (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since around a third of the Federal tax I pay goes to the military, and since the military undoubtedy serves broccoli to the troops sometimes, I am already being forced to buy broccoli, along with spam, Campbell's soup, Pringles, and whatever else they put in those MREs.  

  •  A mandate should be opposed on left wing grounds (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annapaxis, 420 forever

    This whole debate is crazy.  Here on a supposedly left leaning site everyone is busy defending a mandatory relationship with private corporations.

    The federal government's power to tax is noncontroversial.  It should be used.

    It's power to subcontract health taxation to a private entity... to mandate the purchase of a private product... should be anathema to the left, whether at the state level or the national level.

    Yet everyone seems just fine with this democracy subverting, health insurance scheme that channels vast amounts of public funds (your health care dollars) directly to private corporations, and dis-empowers the federal government from its proper role as the manager of a single national risk pool, which should be run directly by our democratic political institutions.  

    I find the right wing opposition to the mandate far more inspiring on a populist level than all those Obama defenders who think our new special relationships with corporate health insurance entities are an exciting first step toward better health care.   Wrong.   You can't get to a health society on the back of a sick economic relationships with mega-corporations, and that is exactly what the health care reform effort tries to do.    

    Stop defending the Obama system and let's join with those on the right in attacking it on constitutional grounds, and on genuine "socialist" progressive grounds.

    Actually, I don't think it matters whether we do so or not.  Precisely because we have not dismantled the insurance industry and asserted government control over the health care system, I predict that the right wing is a guaranteed winner here.   They WILL dismantle the system because Obama failed to attack the corporate architecture that ultimately will oppose it.    He and Pelosi made a tactical alliance with corporate health insurance, but even the prospect of 30 million mandatory customers won't be enough to keep them onboard once the political winds shift, as they do over time.

    You can't build a progressive state on the backs of regressive corporations.  That's the Obama fantasy and it will prove a chimera.  

    •  Do you agree to its constitutionality? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I too oppose the "mandate." I find it offensive morally. Politically, it is about the worst possible thing one could do to damage one's political viability nationally. That being said, I'm completely convinced that it is legal.

      Bad policy, AWFUL politics, but valid law.

    •  I have a capitalist take, and it's worse (0+ / 0-)

      The present situation: The doctor sends a bill to the insurance company. It refuses to pay. The next bill, the doctor adds a surcharge to make up his losses on the last bill, and to anticipate future losses. This time the insurance company pays, and passes the additional cost (and a surcharge to exploit the doctors' surcharges) on in premiums. The less bills we pay, the more money we make. Costs go way up.
      Obamacare: The government tells the insurance companies that they can charge 125% of their total payments to doctors in premiums, and if the customer can't pay the government will guarantee the difference.
      Now the profit margin is fixed, and profits are pegged to total bills.
      The insurance company sends a note to the doctors, saying that they will pay whatever they are billed, and in fact, will give preferential treatment to higher billing doctors. The more we are blled, the more we make. Since most doctors are ethical, they will mostly refuse. Then the companies will make sure medical office landlords get the news, and malpractice insurers, and medical office suppliers.
      Get it?

  •  The fact of the matter is: the mandate (0+ / 0-)

    sucks. It was bad when it was Romney's idea and it's even worse now that it's an alleged Marxist President's idea (Thanks for giving us RomneyCare, Mr. President) . Worse, seeing the mandate being defended here on DKos is just sickening.

  •  Yeah, States rights! (0+ / 0-)

    Wasn't that the pretext for slavery also? How original Mitt?
    Who names their kid Mitt anyway?

  •  Proud He May Be (0+ / 0-)

    Now its time for Democrats and the media to press him to stand behind its provisions and extrapolate them to the Obama health care reform policies and agenda.

    Put your mouth where your pride is, Gov.

  •  17 syllables (0+ / 0-)

    Just like Broccoli!
    (If there were such a thing as
    Urgent Veggie Care.)

    posting weekly political haiku on my diary, and one new haiku a day at

    by HaikuDiem on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 01:25:39 PM PST

  •  Poor Romney. (0+ / 0-)

    Wants to be president so bad that he's willing to say and do anything, no matter what his principles.

    And that's exactly why Mitt Romney will never become president of the United States.

    by Inoljt on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 02:54:29 PM PST

  •  doesn't quite follow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While I agree 100% with your final conclusion - that Romney will say anything to get elected -- it is not necessarily inconsistent to say that a state has a right to impose an individual mandate, if its constitution allows it, but that the federal government does not, because the commerce clause does not allow it.  In other words, you could think that there's nothing inherently wrong with an indiv mandate but that the constitution forbids it anyway.  Of course, on questions of incurable ambiguity such as whether the commerce clause authorizes a regulation like this, politicians simply use the Constitution to justify the outcome they want, and Romney is plainly full of shit. But he has not endorsed the broccoli argument per se, at least not that I know of.

  •  I just looked up the costs - how do they do it? (0+ / 0-)

    I made just over $32,000 last year, so I would not be eligable for a subsidy in MA (I actually live in CA) The cheapest policy in MA would cost about $6500 a year, with a $2000 deductible before benefits kick in. Three office visits and the routine yearly lab work would raise that to over $8000 a year minimum out of pocket. (About $500 more than I put in my SEP IRA each year)
    My 2010 tax cost was $5000 (single, self employed)
    I own my home outright with Prop 13, so my housing costs are only about $5000, and heating and air conditing costs in San Francisco are nil. No car, so bus cost = $500.
    Total: roughly $19,000 not counting food, utilities, etc.
    I can do that. No surprise, since the health insurance costs
    would be deductable, making the total cost about the same as my present savings rate.
    I'd just have to work until 62 and retire with $0 savings.
    But, if I rented - $17,000. That would leave less than $2000 for heat, food, transportation and other utilities and expenses.

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