Yesterday, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on MSNBC to say that Romney does not agree with the current GOP hissy fit that the health reform mandate is a tax. Like President Obama and the Democrats in Congress, he considers it a penalty:
“The governor believes that what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax.” Todd expressed his confusion given that this contradicts the existing Republican talking point on the health care law as a tax: “So he agrees with the president that you shouldn’t call the tax penalty a tax?” “That’s correct,” Fehrnstrom said. “But the president also needs to be held accountable for his hypocritical and contradictory statements because he’s described it variously as a penalty and a tax. Lest you fear this does not represent a classic Romney flip-flop, too, fear not. As others have pointed out, Romney previously referred to the Massachusetts law as a “tax penalty” more than once, including in a 2009 USA Today Op-Ed and in a 2008 debate.
Of course this opinion can (and probably will) change at any minute, so prepare to shake the Etch-A-Sketch.