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.

Higgs boson virtually discovered

This is one of the cases where the circumstantial evidence is overwhelmingly convincing – the gun has smoke and fingerprints, we saw the murderer buy it, we saw him take it with him, we know he was at the scene, and we know he wanted to pull the trigger, but we didn’t actually see him fire the gun:

To the layman, the Higgs boson is the “God particle” and a key puzzle piece in the scientific explanation of the origin of the universe. Physicists around the globe—and perhaps elsewhere, given the size of the universe—have invested billions of dollars in research and have been hunting for the Higgs boson for decades.

Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (or CERN) are expected to announce Wednesday that they have proof of its existence, reports The Associated Press.

The Higgs boson appeared 13.7 billion years ago in the chaos of the Big Bang and turned the flying debris into galaxies, stars and planets.

Its formal discovery, according to a broad scientific consensus, would be the greatest advance in knowledge of the universe in decades and a key to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed, according to the AP…

[S]cientists are in a bit of a quagmire, according to the AP. While they appear to have enough evidence to report the existence of the “God particle,” they still hedge on whether to report “a discovery.” It’s a fine line, indeed, but one that scientists will likely continue to debate.

“I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, ‘It looks like a discovery,'” British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King’s College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s, told The Associated Press. “We’ve discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs.”

I’m actually not sure if my analogy does all this justice. They may be closer than any layman really knows. And since my whole thing is biology, I’m not going to bother trying to dissect it all. I will, however, be ready to post whatever great explanations I do find on this. (I’m look at you, Ethan Siegel.)