The 2012 election cycle hasn’t even gotten heated up yet, and already I want to rip my hair out. Just days after a Mitt Romney campaign spokesman pulled a 180 on the Republican Party by saying the individual mandate required by the Affordable Care Act is not a tax, Mitt Romney comes out saying that the individual mandate is indeed a tax.
Let’s play catch-up. The left doesn’t really want the ACA mandate to be viewed as a tax, but it was under that specific provision that it was held up in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last week. They prefer that we call the “tax” a “penalty” instead. Okay, fine, that’s doable. The right wants it hammered into the ground as a tax as a tax as a tax, etc. etc. and they aren’t going to let us forget it. Mitt Romney is in a careful predicament here because of his own healthcare reforms in Massachusetts – arguably the foundation of President Obama’s own national healthcare reforms. So Mittens can’t really side with his base and say it’s a tax, or he opens himself up to criticism as a hypocrite. His spokesman came out and said it’s not a tax, against base, presumably to avoid the “hypocrite” label, but risking base-alienation. It has become a confusing mess of semantics, and Romney only made it worse today. Of course, the finer points of this problem can be read in slightly more detail here.
Anyway, Romney has changed his mind again and said that he supports the perspective that the ACA is a tax, reports Newser. He’s back on the side of his base, though now every liberal who calls him a hypocrite is justified in saying so. Nevertheless, a fumbling Romney said that he agrees with the Supreme Court’s dissent, though doesn’t stop there: “the dissent lost. … The majority of the court said it’s a tax, and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There’s no way around that.”
Though Romney is focusing on criticizing President Obama for having “broken the pledge he made” when he said he wouldn’t raise taxes, it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black, and that whole “what we did for Massachusetts worked for Massachusetts” line isn’t going to fly in the debates.
It’s like he’s looking for some rhetorical middle ground between being a hypocrite and making his base happy. Either that or he’ll keep waffling back and forth until we forget what he’s done or what he even believes. Not me. I’ve got my bottle of Tylenol on standby and I’m going to watch this thing.
You can see the video of Mitt Romney calling the ACA’s individual mandate a tax on CBS here.