Mitt Romney is in danger of losing his footing on the healthcare issue. The mainstream media (and some conservative media, too) will be relentless on him until he can somehow come up with a coherent answer to this question: “Is the individual mandate in Obamacare a tax?”
Right now it appears Romney is trying to have it both ways. In an interview with CBS News, he argues that because the Supreme Court ruled that it was a tax then it’s a tax. End of story.
Well, not really. Romney goes on to say that he actually agreed with the dissent opinion, which of course says its not a tax. Even his senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom has said that it is not a tax.
So is it a tax or not? Basically what Romney is really saying (but isn’t saying with these words) is that he doesn’t think it’s a tax but it’s a tax because the Supreme Court says it’s a tax.
Huh? So let me get this straight. Principally, he doesn’t believe it’s really a tax since he agrees with the high court’s dissenting opinion that it is not one and the fact that he administered a similar individual mandate in Massachusetts, which he all along called a “penalty” not a tax. But when he hits the campaign trail, he will call it a tax and say Obama broke his promise not to raise taxes on middle income Americans.
It seems he’s trying to have it both ways and argue both sides of this. That’s not a good place for Romney to be in considering he has a trust issue with the base to begin with and has already been labeled a flip flopper by the mainstream media.
Romney didn’t want to call his individual mandate in Massachusetts a tax because (let’s be honest) calling it a penalty sounds far better in “political speak” than a tax. Plus, Romney really does believe it is a penalty not a tax.
With that being the case, it comes across as inauthentic to now say that same type of individual mandate is a tax just because the Supreme Court says it’s so and it’s not even an opinion he agrees with in the first place?! Oy-gevalt.
So what’s the best course of action? It may be to simply get rid of the semantics here and choose new wording. Forget getting caught up in whether it’s a tax or a penalty because ultimately, Romney could argue it is a (get ready for the new terminology) “new financial burden” that President Obama has slapped on Americans. It may be Romney’s only option.
It makes you wonder if Rick Santorum was on to something when he said it would be a mistake to nominate Romney because it makes arguing the healthcare issue extremely difficult.
You think President Obama will be ready with a few good one-liners for the fall debates? You betcha.