Romney has remained silent in the deluge of criticism stemming from the right regarding the Affordable Care Act. On Monday, his rep went against the base to declare that Romney’s campaign doesn’t see the individual mandate as a tax, and that they disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter.
Notes the Washington Post, a Romney advisor “went off-message” arguing that the healthcare mandate in the ACA is not a tax. “The governor disagreed with the ruling of the court, he agreed with the dissent that was written by Justice Scalia, that very clearly said that the mandate was not a tax,” Eric Fehrnstrom said. “The governor believes what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the Court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax.”
Romney has been wisely skirting the issue of the ACA’s passage last week, playing some fancy footwork with his verbage. After all, if he agrees with his Republican base and the Surpreme Court that the ACA is a tax on the American people, then he has to also admit that he raised taxes in Massachusetts under his own government-mandated health program (considered by many as a prototype for the ACA), notes Newser.
So Romney, through Fehrnstrom (of “Etch-a-Sketch” fame), is playing a deft game of semantics. The court’s decision opened Obama’s controversial healthcare measure up to more criticism. The mandate was called an unconstitutional penalty. Now that it has been upheld (though supported as a tax) the right can attack it in a new way. Romney is trying to fit a square-pegged stance into a round sanctuary that hopefully no one will notice.
“The federal individual mandate in ObamaCare is either a constitutional tax or an unconstitutional penalty,” said another Romney rep. “Governor Romney thinks it is an unconstitutional penalty. What is President Obama’s position: Is his federal mandate unconstitutional or is it a tax?”
Of course, it would be easier for Romney if the tale of the Affordable Care Act wasn’t based on the true story of his own efforts in Massachusetts.