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Romney Adviser: Health Care Mandate Not a Tax

Romney Adviser: Health Care Mandate Not a Tax


Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom has had some massive gaffes in his time with the campaign. There was his Etch-a-Sketch declaration, and there was his describing women’s issues as “shiny objects.” His latest gaffe is comparatively minor: he has only undermined all GOP messaging on the Affordable Care Act ruling.

“The governor disagreed with the ruling of this court,” Fehrnstrom said in an interview on MSNBC, adding, “he agreed with the dissent, which was written by Justice Scalia, which very clearly stated that the mandate was not a tax.”

Pressed by Chuck Todd to clarify whether former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney believes the mandate is a tax, Fehrnstrom went further, tying the Affordable Care Act directly to the health care reform passed under Romney in Massachusetts.

“The governor believes what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the Court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax,” Fehrnstrom said.

The Affordable Care Act was modeled in many ways on health care reform signed into law by Romney. Crucially, both laws include a mandate that people either carry health care or pay a tax penalty.

Fehrnstrom’s statement is a double blow to GOP messaging on health care. The statement reminds voters that the differences between Romneycare and Obamacare are minor, and that Romney’s stated opposition to the Affordable Care Act is more about political expediency than any kind of core conviction. It also undoes the Republican messaging on the health care law, which is that the Supreme Court’s ruling means that the Affordable Care Act is “the biggest tax increase ever.”

While the Affordable Care Act is most certainly not the biggest tax increase in US history, Fehrnstrom has managed to take a hatchet to the argument, which other Republicans were happy to make regardless of accuracy.

Fehrnstrom did gamely try to argue that President Barack Obama has been hypocritical in his discussion of the bill. “He has described it variously as a penalty and as a tax. He needs to reconcile those two very different statements,” Fehrnstrom said.

That’s a tough argument for a campaign to make when its candidate has been on record championing the very plan he now opposes. If anyone needs to reconcile very different statements, it’s Mitt Romney.

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11:37AM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

Mr. Flip-flop

1:15PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012


11:24AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

Our government is breaking the taxpayers? Actually the federal income tax is near an all-time low. It may be a problem for those who are having trouble making their their mortgage payments on both their vacation home in the mountains and the house on the beach.

Health care costs are the number reason people file for bankruptcy.

11:12AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

I suspect Robert's decision was indeed political. It gave him deny-ability on the assertion that he uses his robes to support the republican party. It also gave Romney something to run against. Two for the price of one.

(It's bizarre how a majority of people are against the health care program, yet when asked about its individual components they like it)

10:58AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

Who cares what it is? We have to start electing people who care more about people than ideologies. These politicians have politics, which is supposed to be pragmatic and SERVE the people, confused with religion, which is all about abstract ideologies.

As for the Constitution, forgive me if I don't regard it as 'gospel.' The Founding Fathers certainly did not have me, a self-employed woman, in mind when they drafted it.

4:42PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012


4:13PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Like the old riddle goes, "Q: How can you tell when Republicans are lying? A: When their lips are moving." So isn't it refreshing for a change when one of them slips up and actually tells the truth for a change, if only briefly.

3:16PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Gosh Tamara, how do you know whether he is lock step, flip flopping, or lying? He changes message day to day.

3:15PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

If any of you have ever had a friend die after having cancer for a year; after all the very expensive treatments failed, with NO health insurance, leaving the family deeply in debt, maybe you would look at the ACA a little differently. The healthcare act is way overdue. The US is one of the only civilized countries without universal healthcare. It would be nice if the whiners would shut up and move on.
Oh, and to those who worry there won't be enough doctors - too bad you did not use the last 2 years to increase the number of doctor offices, instead of hoping ithe ACA would be repealed. But hey, there are always more med students graduating.

2:13PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Oopsy - another gaffe by Eric Fehrnstrom. I wonder how long Romney can afford to have this guy on staff? Keep 'em coming, Eric! Romney is stuck on this one!

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