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.