Why do I get a feeling that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will not be happy today — and that the White House will be smiling? Here’s why:
After Chief Justice John Roberts handed down his ruling that the individual mandate requirement in the Affordable Care Act fell under Congress’ power to tax, the question of whether Republicans were taking advantage of calling it a tax or insisting the ruling was wrong to call it that has continued into today, when senior Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom insisted the mandate, according to the candidate, was not a tax, and that he disagreed with the Court’s ruling calling it such.
On today’s Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd asked the question with Romney’s mandate in Massachusetts rather than the national version of that, asking whether they called the fine a tax or a penalty when passed in the state. “Let me say that when the Supreme Court ruling came down last week… Governor Romney went before the cameras and said he disagreed with the ruling,” Fehrnstrom replied, arguing that “President Obama’s position is contradictory and unstable.” Todd asked again whether the penalty was talked about as a penalty or a tax, and Fehrnstrom explained that “what we did in Massachusetts works for Massachusetts” and was “never meant to be a one size fits all plan for the entire nation.”
Todd played a few clips of Romney calling the mandate a “tax penalty,” which was a confusing way of putting it for the purposes of this discussion. “What we put in place in Massachusetts is a penalty and [Romney] disagrees with the Court’s ruling that it is a tax,” Fehrnstrom concluded.
This will make it increasingly hard for Romney & Co and the GOP on the “Obamacare” issue since it at least partially blunts the high concept label of the mandate as a tax. Just saying Obama has not been consistent or that he’ll repeal the plan won’t osbscure Romney’s siding with the court and Obama on this. It’s effectively is a punch in the stomach to GOPers who have been revving up to use the tax issue against Obama. Yes, millions of dollars in ads can still run — but this question about a)his record b)whether he views it as a tax as do many GOPers will come up again and again and again. The Dems could make some great counter ads quoting Romney’s top advisor and his record.
It’ll be clear that it’s a case of the pot calling the pot a pot.
And during this news cycle take the issue off the economy (again).
This is yet another test of whether partisans who insist X, Y and Z are not issues on which to compromise or forgive really mean it. I’m betting most Republican partisans will give Romney a pass on this one — again underscoring how meaningless most of the chest beating that goes on in American politics is today. The video: