Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has reassured the electorate that he agrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling that the infamous “individual mandate” that is the cornerstone of the Affordable Health Care Act — i.e. “ObamaCare” — is a tax. He also says it's constitutional. In his own words from his July 4 interview with CBS's Jan Crawford: “The Supreme Court has the final word. And their final word is that ObamaCare is a tax. So it's a tax. They decided it was constitutional. So it is a tax and it's constitutional. That's the final word. That's what it is.”
This comes just days after one of Romney’s advisers, Eric Fehrnstrom — presumably speaking on behalf of the former Massachusetts governor — described the mandate as a penalty, not a tax.
The apparent inconsistency between Fehrnstrom’s characterization of the unpopular mandate and the more recent description offered by Romney has exposed the latter to the all-too-familiar charge that he is a “flip flopper.”
However, whatever grounds critics may have for regarding Romney as a man whose positions on the issues come and go with the political winds, their conclusion in this instance may have been drawn in haste. On the Fourth of July, while speaking with CBS News, Romney stated his view clearly and succinctly. “The Supreme Court has spoken,” he said. Although his sympathies lie with the dissent, the fact of the matter is that the majority declared that it is a tax. “They have spoken,” Romney asserted, “there is no way around that.”
Romney’s position here is no different from that taken by the American majority that has opposed ObamaCare from the beginning. For that matter, it isn’t clear that his adviser’s perspective is out of sync with either the Republican Party or the American mainstream that rejects Obamacare as a historically unprecedented encroachment on their liberties. After all, the same people who despised the president’s signature legislation prior to Justice John Roberts’ unanticipated opinion remain equally disdainful of it today. All that has changed, though, is that they now despise the Court’s majority ruling just as much.
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Photo: Mitt Romney at July 4 parade: AP Images