The Sunday shows were filled with a debate over one question: is the tax penalty in health care reform a tax or a penalty? Obama administration officials argued the latter; Republicans argued the former. Does it matter who’s right, or is this silly political parsing? It’s probably a little of both, actually.
Under the Affordable Care Act, if a consumer can afford insurance, he/she has to take responsibility for having insurance. If the consumer refuses, he/she will be subject to a tax penalty. The right wants to call that penalty a tax so that they can in turn argue, “Obama raised taxes on the middle class.” It’s deceptive – and rather foolish – but that’s where things stand.
At least, it was where things stood before this morning, when the Romney campaign’s chief advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, told msnbc’s Chuck Todd that Republican rhetoric is wrong.