Romney goes against GOP on ‘tax’ label

July 3, 2012

By David Sherfinski and Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, Republicans on Capitol Hill spent four days laying out an attack on President Obama’s health care law as a massive tax increase.

On Monday, Mitt Romney’s top campaign strategist undercut them.

Eric Fehrnstrom said Mr. Romney agrees with Mr. Obama that the law’s punishment for flouting the individual mandate and not buying health insurance is a “penalty,” not a tax — just like the legislation Mr. Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts.

“The governor has consistently described the mandate in Massachusetts as a penalty,” Mr. Fehrnstrom said on MSNBC. “The governor disagreed with the ruling of the court; he agreed with the dissent that was written by Justice [Antonin] Scalia, which clearly states the mandate was not a tax.”

After watching the court reject their legal arguments, congressional Republicans settled for what they hoped would be a powerful political attack, bolstered by the court’s declaration that the individual mandate amounted to a tax. The court’s conclusion contradicted Mr. Obama, who during the debate in 2009 and 2010 had repeatedly said it wasn’t a tax.

“The court has now spoken. It is a tax,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said in the aftermath of the ruling.

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