The Hill.com today reported that Governor Mitt Romney is saying that the Affordable Care Act’s mandate provides for a penalty, not a tax, as argued by the rest of his GOP brethren. Are we seeing a little independence and backbone on the part of the presumptive Republican nominee or just some pragmatism?
Apparently Mr. Romney also argued that the Massachusetts’ health care plan provided for a penalty as well, so Mr. Romney may simply and appropriately wants to avoid any attacks by the Democrats on that point. The problem for Mr. Romney is that it adds ammunition to the Obama campaign argument that the President’s health care plan came straight from Mr. Romney’s plan.
Meanwhile, is it worth the GOP’s time to show that President Obama “flipped-flop” on arguing the validity of his health care plan by describing the penalty as a tax and vice versa? The GOP is hot and bothered that Team Obama argued to Congress that the mandate provided for a penalty, but before the Supreme Court, the Administration argued that the Court could not overturn ObamaCare because the mandate provided for a tax.
The GOP should be focusing its energies on repeal, if indeed that is their goal and if it is even feasible. Team Obama confronted two different branches of government, one responsible for legislation, the other for interpreting law so one should expect two different types of arguments.
Gov. Romney realizes he has to reconcile quickly any distinctions between the Massachusetts plan and the federal plan and stay in the middle of issues as much as possible. He must get traction on some consistent message as he enters the convention and then the debates.