He had one of two words: tax or penalty. When faced with that decision, Mitt Romney went with the option that contradicted previous statements made by his staff; the Republican presidential nominee finally waded into the penalty vs. tax debate, saying he believes the health care mandate is a tax.
"Now 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," Romney said yesterday in an interview with CBS News. "Therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There's no way around that. You can try and say you wish they’d decided a different way, but they didn't. They concluded it’s a tax. That's what it is."
On Monday, however, Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told NBC's Chuck Todd they considered the mandate to be more of a penalty.
Romney, at least, joined the chorus of Republican leaders, claiming Obamacare raises taxes on middle-class Americans. He's arguably gotten himself into a a bit of a pickle: remember that whole health care mandate thing that he championed in Massachusetts? Yeah, it was a tax.
An op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal — which of note is owned by the conservative mogul behind Fox News, Rupert Murdoch — tore into Team Romney's mixed messaging on the health care ruling and for referring to it as a penalty in the first place.
"In a stroke, the Romney campaign contradicted Republicans throughout the country who had used the Chief Justice's opinion to declare accurately that Mr. Obama had raised taxes on the middle class." The scathing piece states Romney's "campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb.This latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity."