Republicans, Choose Your Enemy: Taxes or John Roberts

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By Josh Barro

Mitt Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said that his boss views Obamacare’s individual mandate as a penalty, not a tax. This has the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll up in arms. Romney is off-message if he says the mandate is not a tax!

This directly contradicts the message of every Republican that will be running down ballot from Romney this fall. This is not a minor problem.

Wait a minute. Let’s say Romney does what many congressional Republicans have done with enthusiasm, and declares that the mandate is a tax. Isn’t that an endorsement of John Roberts’s hated opinion that upheld Obamacare on the grounds that the mandate is a tax?

I think the mandate is a tax and that Romney is wrong (and so is Obama, on the days when he insists the mandate isn’t a tax.) But then, I think the individual mandate is constitutional. If Republicans have a message coordination problem, it’s not on Romney’s end. It’s with Republicans who are accidentally endorsing the logic behind the judicial opinion they hate.

(Josh Barro is lead writer for the Ticker. Follow him on Twitter.)

Read more breaking commentary from Josh Barro and other Bloomberg View columnists and editors at the Ticker.


-0- Jul/03/2012 17:43 GMT