The quote is a lot of fun as everyone including his GOP primary opponents took shots at him. Rick Perry said while Romney likes to fire people his thing is to hire people. Of course he wasn't literally saying that.
Yet as Krugman points out today in a way what he said amounts to the same thing. At the very least Romney is absolutely clueless about lives and pressures of most Americans.
And this comes out even more when we take the context into account. His point was he likes to be able to fire a bad insurance company. As Krugman points out though this doesn't actually happen. For the most part you can't fire your insurance company.
"The real issue, unfortunately, is that very, very few people have the luxury that Gov. Romney is endorsing. Let’s say that you are self-employed, and lucky enough to have found a company to provide you with health insurance. Then, let’s say you develop cancer. You suddenly find out that your insurance company stinks. So you fire them, right?"
"Of course not. You’re screwed. Now you have a pre-existing condition. There’s not an insurance company out there that wants to cover you. So you don’t fire them. You scream, and curse, and cry, but you’re stuck. Only healthy people have the luxury of picking and choosing.
"Let’s also not forget that most people don’t find out that they’re not getting “good service” until they’re sick. Healthy people don’t make much use of their insurance, so they don’t know how bad it is. They only find out after they’re ill, and then it’s too late. It’s only fun to fire the insurance company if you’re sure you can go to another company to get what you need. Almost no one can."
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/ Here Krugman quoted Aaron Carroll
This is what makes Romney's whole line problematic-made worse by the blatant hypocrisy. After all the individual mandate was his law in Massachusetts and for that matter Gingrich had initially suggested it in 1993 so whole ObamaCare hating GOP field gave us the individual mandate to start with.
On a deeper level this is why there are many who argue that private insurance can't work at all, that health may be like certain other public goods and services-like education-that is an externality and has the wrong incentives. Bottom line insurance companies make money by taking money from healthy people-who by definition don't use the service and so in a sense waste their money.
With Romney's comments, Krugman points out that, "Why, it’s as if Romney doesn’t understand his own health reform, which was in large part about ensuring not that you can fire your insurance company, but rather about ensuring that your insurance company can’t fire YOU."
I think this points out again Romney's fundamental lack of sympathy and understanding for the average American. He just can't relate. These kinds of problems aren't in his experience. The fact that he doesn't have experience with the money pressures that most Americans live under does not by itself make him unfit. FDR one of the greatest Presidents ever with a tremendous capacity to empathize didn't know about American's struggles from his own patrician, Northeastern Wasp background.
Unlike Romney though he had an imagination and a genuine interest in people. He never tired meeting and learning from others. Romney clearly learns very little.