Affordable Care Act: Romney campaign makes a decision

Yesterday I wrote about the lack of choice Republicans were (and will continue) to make regarding how they describe the Supreme Court ruling on the individual mandate from the healthcare bill. They want to call it both a tax and a fine, but those are not the same thing – nor, more importantly, do they have the same ideological basis. If they call it a tax, okay. That fits their (false) rhetoric that President Obama has done anything to raise taxes. But if they call it a fine, that is because they believe it is anti-liberty to force people to buy something. The Romney campaign sees this and has made a choice:

A senior adviser to Mitt Romney appeared to undercut a central argument Republicans hope to use between now and the November election against President Obama — that although his signature health care reform law may be constitutional, it amounts to a tax.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom was asked whether Romney agreed with last week’s Supreme Court ruling.

“The governor believes that what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax,” Fehrnstrom said.

When pressed by host Chuck Todd about whether Romney supported calling the financial burden placed on Americans who choose not to buy health care “a penalty or a fee or a fine” rather than a tax, Fehrnstrom replied: “That’s correct.”

It’s interesting that they want to call Romneycare a penalty – it undermines his argument that he’s all about liberty and freedom and guns and tits – but it’s a clear choice (at least for now – I mean, this is Romney). Now we just have to see if other Republicans will follow suit.

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2 Responses

  1. The Obama Administration is also trying to call it a penalty while applauding the Supreme Court for ruling it a tax, if Romney can’t have it both ways, neither can he.

    I can follow the ruling, but I can’t agree with it. The majority has essentially said that if the IRS is doing the collecting, its a tax. That would seem to indicate something pretty scary, could the government deny you a right to trial by changing the way traffic fines are collected? After reading the whole decision, I would say yes, with some wrangling it could be done. Speeding isn’t illegal, we just have a tax on those caught doing it.

    I really don’t see how it can be said that Obama didn’t raise taxes now, saying otherwise is just dishonest. The ruling made it quite clear that the “fee” in question is only valid as a tax, so if Obama wants to claim its not one I see a rather large problem. It’s either taxation or it’s illegal. I don’t know who you think this assessment will fall on but I can tell you who it appears to be:

    Not the rich and not the poor but those in the middle. I suggest you get yourself a copy of the ruling and stick it in the bathroom for some light reading.

  2. I might add that Obama’s inflationary policies are also taxation, so even if you can come up with a convincing argument why the healthcare tax doesn’t count as one, we have all been subject to the “inflation tax”.

    It’s pretty clever that the government can borrow money, than print more to make what was borrowed and spent worth less, effectively reducing the debt in real terms.

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