Andrew Kaczynski at Buzzfeed points out Romney’s flip-flopping, caught on tape, from April 2010: “Mitt Romney yesterday said in an interview with CBS News that the individual mandate was a tax, while the plan he put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty, and not a tax. In a video from April 2010, Mitt Romney praised some similarities between his plan and President Obama’s. Romney said he liked the individual mandate, the portability of the insurance, the requirement that insurers cover people with a preexisting condition, and the similar exchanges. Romney said his plan was different because it was state plan and his plan did not raise taxes, and did not cut Medicare. (As a Governor, Romney had no authority to cut Medicare.)”
A reminder from ABL: “Conservatives seem to think that even though the highest court in the land ruled the mandate constitutional under Congress’s taxing power, it doesn’t matter because nyah! nyah! —President Obama said it wasn’t a tax! [...] Actually, I’ll be fair. I don’t know if he was lying when he said it was not a tax. Maybe he thought it was a tax, but knew the word “tax” causes immediate brain meltdowns among the wingnut class. Or maybe he thought it was a penalty. Or maybe he understands the difference between a tax and a valid exercise of Congress’s taxing power. (I’m betting on the last option.)”
A couple of days ago I posted that on Monday, the Romney campaign was in agreement with the President that the health care mandate was a penalty and not a tax. I also said: “Of course this opinion can (and probably will) change at any minute, so prepare to shake the Etch-A-Sketch.”
It took an entire 48 hours, as Raw Story reports: “Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday reversed his campaign’s position that mandates to buy health care are a “penalty” and not a “tax,” telling CBS News that “the majority of the [Supreme Court] has said it is a tax, and therefore it is a tax.” “They have spoken,” he said. “There’s no way around that.” Romney’s new position is the exact opposite of what the campaign was saying on Monday.”
Raw Story also helpfully points out one important difference between Romneycare and Obamacare:
“Yet, the Massachusetts law clearly says that the state “shall have all enforcement and collection procedures available under chapter 62C to collect any penalties assessed under this section.” Those procedures, as described by chapter 62C, include seizing violators’ property and directly taking their wages. It becomes even more complicated for Romney due to his continued insistence that President Obama’s health reforms amount to a “government takeover” of the health care industry — but somehow, when Romney did it that wasn’t the case.
“To be clear, President Obama’s health mandate does not empower the IRS to come after citizens, and instead leaves the agency to figure out how much is owed and crib the penalty from violators’ annual tax returns and Social Security payments. This has led to an expansion of the agency’s manpower — I.E. created new jobs — which Republicans have been fuming over since the law was passed. The IRS is also specifically blocked from charging taxpayers interest on penalties accumulated.
“Putting it another way, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman explained to Congress in 2010 that all they can really do is send people a letter letting them know that they’re in violation.
“Romney’s latest turnabout is also problematic for fellow Republicans — many of whom have been wrongly claiming that the IRS will soon be applying liens and levies against violators — because they would now appear to be criticizing Romney’s health plan and not President Obama’s.”
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.
Kevin Drum discusses the stupidity being thrown around by the Republican Party since the Supreme Court’s ruling on Affordable Care last week:
“Democrats have long insisted that Obamacare’s penalty for not buying health insurance isn’t a tax, but on Thursday the Supreme Court upheld it on the grounds that it was a tax. J’accuse! Or, as America’s Bard of the Frozen North tweeted, “Obama lies, freedom dies.”
“This is so stupid it hurts. But Josh Marshall says that what comes next is even more brain dead:
“Republicans are now saying it’s the ‘biggest tax increase in history’ — either of America or the universe of whatever. But this is demonstrably false. The Congressional Budget Office says the mandate penalty will raise $27 billion between 2012 and 2021. $27 billion over a decade. Anybody who cares to can do the math. But if you want to call it a ‘tax increase’ — which is debatable — it’s clearly one of tiniest ones in history.”
“Let’s be fair: When Republicans talk about ACA’s tax increases, most of them are talking about all the taxes in the bill, not just the penalty. But they’re still off base. There have been 15 tax increases of significant size since 1950, and Jerry Tempalski, a tax analyst in the Treasury Department, has estimated the size of all of them as a percentage of GDP. Tempalski hasn’t estimated the eventual size of ACA, but PolitiFact took a crack at it using the same methodology, and they figure that ACA amounts to a tax increase of 0.49% of GDP seven years from now. That places it tenth on the list.”
REAGAN’S TAX INCREASE IN 1982 WAS BIGGER! The GOP is fully aware that their base will never read these facts on Drudge or Breitbart or see them on Fox Entertainment — so the lies will continue as planned.