Romney Reverses on ACA ‘Tax’

Is the Affordable Care Act’s charge for not carrying insurance a penalty, or a tax? If you’re asking Mitt Romney, it all depends on what day it is.

Romney contradicted his own campaign Wednesday, telling CBS News that the ACA’s penalty is “a tax.”

Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom had told MSNBC on Monday that Romney did not think the penalty was a tax.

“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.

Fehrnstrom was referring to the health care reform plan Romney signed into law while governor of Massachusetts, which had a similar penalty attached to it.

Romney, however, contradicted what Fehrnstrom said.

“While I agreed with the dissent, that’s overtaken by the fact that the majority of the Court said it’s a tax and therefore it is a tax,” Romney told CBS News’ Jan Crawford. “The American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made — said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans.”

But his still “is not a tax.”

However, Romney claimed that the health care reform he signed into law was not a tax.

“Actually, the chief justice in his opinion made it very clear that at the state level, states have the power to put in place mandates. They don’t need to require them to be called taxes in order for them to be constitutional,” Romney said. “And as a result, Massachusetts’ mandate was a mandate, was a penalty, was described that way by the Legislature and by me, and so it stays as it was.”

Essentially, Romney’s argument boils down to saying that what he authorized in Massachusetts was a “penalty,” but a very similar measure is a “tax” if it’s done by the federal government.

Romney’s legalistic and confusing argument is indicative of the tightrope he’s trying to walk with regard to health care reform. The ACA was modeled on Massachusetts’ health care plan, and contains many of the same provisions. Romney is trying to have his cake and eat it too, claiming that when Barack Obama does something, it’s a tax, but when Mitt Romney does something, it’s a penalty.

Of course, this makes little difference in the end; if a person is paying money to the IRS because they choose not to have health insurance, it doesn’t matter if you call that payment a tax or a penalty or a flibbertygibbet.

The Obama campaign wasted no time in responding to Romney’s reversal. “In an interview with CBS today, Mitt Romney contradicted his own campaign, and himself,” the campaign said in a statement. “First, he threw his top aide Eric Fehrnstrom under the bus by changing his campaign’s position and calling the free rider penalty in the President’s health care law — which requires those who can afford it to buy insurance — a tax.  Second, he contradicted himself by saying his own Massachusetts mandate wasn’t a tax — but, Romney has called the individual mandate he implemented in Massachusetts a tax many times before. Glad we cleared all that up.”

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Image Credit: Donkey Hotey


Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.5 years ago

Romney is a moron. Someone run him over with their car. Quick. Please.

Greg F.
Gregory Flowers5 years ago

Romney flip-flops (or is it flop-flips?) again!!!

Josh C.
Josh C.5 years ago

We the sheeple of the united states is how Romney. Camp sees it with enough money Romney will break the backs of many for the wallets of the few minimum wage in my state is 7.25 an hour which is all any one pays because they can I can't Afford insurance premiums we can badly afford diapers and Romney aims to axe all social safety nets so in essence Romney is death for America I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson5 years ago

Romney is dangerous for America!!...PERIOD!!!
VOTE OBAMA , 2012!!

C. Kershner
C. Kershner5 years ago

And this is why I love this site! How many times does Mitt Romney have to change his mind before the mindless decide not to follow him? Just yesterday I listened to people I have respected for years spout the fear-based propaganda that has taken over the Republican party. And these are well-educated professional people! I could not believe what I was hearing! Thank you to all of you who look to uncover the truth and make it known! I'm not saying the Democratic party doesn't have their own loose canons, but the right has gone completely off the deep end!

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey5 years ago

I read yesterday, darn it I don't remember where, but a well respected Supreme Court judge was heard comparing the Mitt Romney's campaign party to Goofy(Walt Disney cartoon character) camp.

Stefan Dwornik

Gene well said, and I hope it gets posted to Facebook, which I would do but I am not a member. I just pray that come election time we ALL remember the republican platform laid out by the contestants running for the party's nomination. The republicans have a huge war chest complements of the Wealthy, Corporations, and those who profess, but don't walk talk or quack like a Christian. Those not supporting the right will really need to use Facebook, Twitter to keep the story straight and if not nullify, match the CROONIES (R) money with TRUTH, and the Facts to back it. If Women the elderly, disabled, middle-class/lower income families, the graduating, or graduated can't find work & have moved home and don't pour out in droves to stop this republican plan to bring hell to 95% of Americans, then don't utter a complaint when words become action by the right, because we are all going to pay if they win & DEARLY !!!!!!!

Pat B.
Pat B5 years ago

I think at this point, now that the nomination is locked in, Mitt is saying whatever thing will impress whoever he's in front of at that moment. He has no depth nor does he actually have an opinion that wasn't given to him by someone else.

The appalling thing is that there are still millions of people who support him. What does a person have to do before voters will turn away from a member of their own party who's a wackjob?

Susan T.
Susan T5 years ago

Just shows that even the polititions don't know what's going on, really. They probably don't even know who owes them their kickbacks at this point.

Jen A.
Jen A5 years ago

Gene J. - love your comments. Well said.

Frances C. and Pat B. - after reading both yours, I just had to look for Sandy's comments. You are both so right. I had a great laugh as well. Thanks for the entertainment Sandy. Just think about it, if you rid of all the Obama followers, only the stupid, ignorant and racist hypocrites are left!

You, Sandy, are an embarrassment to America!