Mitt Romney Reverses His Own Campaign, Says Mandate Is A Tax
Yesterday in an interview with CBS News, Mitt Romney backtracked on the comments that his campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom had made earlier in the week and said that the individual mandate was indeed a tax:
(CBS News) Two days after his top adviser insisted otherwise, Mitt Romney on Wednesday told CBS News Chief Political Correspondent Jan Crawford that President Obama’s individual mandate upheld last week by the Supreme Court is “a tax.”
“The Supreme Court has spoken, and while I agreed with the dissent, that’s taken over by the fact that 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,” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee told Crawford in an exclusive interview, referring to the court’s 5-4 ruling that largely upheld the president’s signature health care law, with the individual mandate as a tax.
“I said that I agreed with the dissent, and the dissent made it very clear that they felt it was unconstitutional,” Romney continued. “But the dissent lost – it’s in the minority.”
The individual mandate is uniquely problematic for Romney, whose health care legislation as Massachusetts governor also included a mandate. But as an anti-tax increase candidate, Romney has relied on the argument that at the state level, governors can tax on mandate under “police powers” – a fact that Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts noted in his opinion.
“You can try and say you wish [the court] had decided a different way, but they didn’t,” Romney said. “They concluded it was a tax; that’s what it is. And the American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made. He said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans, and not only did he raise the $500 billion that was already in the bill, it’s now clear that his mandate, as described by the Supreme Court, is a tax.”
Here’s the video:
Romney’s campaign had received a lot of negative feedback from Congressional Republicans and conservative pundits after Fehrnstrom’s comments on Monday, largely because they completely undercut the argument that the GOP had been making since the Court’s decision had come down that, since the mandate was a “tax,” that Obama had raised taxes on the middle class despite his promise not to do so. It’s not really that great an argument for several reasons, of course, and the assertion that some Republicans have made that the PPACA constitutes the biggest tax increase in history is, as I noted earlier this week, simply false. It was inevitable, though, that the Romney campaign would get in line, especially after the reports on Tuesday that the campaign wanted to move beyond health care and refocus on the economy, reports which the campaign was forced to explicitly deny.
This all suggests were in for another ObamaCare push from the campaign, which doesn’t really strike me as a smart strategy. They ought to be talking about the economy, especially depending on what comes from the Labor Department in tomorrow’s jobs report.