- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
GOP waits for Romney to pick ‘tax’ or ‘penalty’
Candidate gets stuck in semantics dilemma
Question of the Day
A semantic dispute over what defines “a tax” or “a penalty” has pushed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign deeply off message as he struggles for the right response to last week’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the health care law.
In doing so, Mr. Christie kneecapped top campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom, who a day earlier said it wasn’t a tax but rather a penalty. He was trying to preserve the tax-free integrity of the health care legislation that Mr. Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts.
Still to come is Mr. Romney himself, who analysts said eventually will have to take sides.
If he calls it a tax, he will be rejecting his top strategist and flip-flopping on his own stance in Massachusetts. But if he insists it’s a penalty, he would be agreeing with Mr. Obama and undercutting the attack strategy that most Republicans have taken since last week’s ruling.
“Listen, I get less concerned about what spokespeople say and more concerned about what the person who’s going to be president of the United States says,” Mr. Christie said. “I think sometimes we get obsessed over, you know, what different spokespeople will say. You know why they’re spokespeople and not candidates? You just saw that reason. Gov. Romney knows what he feels about these issues, and he feels strongly about them.”
The Romney campaign didn’t respond Tuesday to questions asking which side the presumptive Republican presidential nominee backs.
Meanwhile, Democrats have watched gleefully from the sidelines as the dust-up has dented the Republicans’ chief health care argument.
“He is really between a rock and a hard place — especially when it come to taxes, which is the most important thing for many Republicans,” said strategist Jim Manley.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling Thursday, said the mandate requiring all Americans to obtain health care coverage or else pay a fine to the Internal Revenue Service was constitutional under Congress‘ broad taxing powers.
Mr. Obama had publicly insisted the mandate was not a tax, but his attorneys argued to the courts that it was. The Supreme Court agreed and upheld the law on that basis despite agreeing with the main argument brought by the bill’s opponents — that the mandate was not an exercise of Congress‘ power to regulate interstate commerce.
If it is indeed a tax, that would mean the president had broken his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.
Mr. Romney relied on the same mechanisms — an individual mandate backed up by a fine/penalty/tax — in the health care legislation that Massachusetts enacted under his governorship. He, too, would be in violation of his own no-new-taxes pledge if he accepts the court’s label.
Mr. Romney has said he disagrees with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s opinion, arguing that it is not a tax and therefore doesn’t fall within Congress‘ powers. However, he says, it still would be a legitimate exercise of a state’s authority.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Perdue, Nunn square off in race for Georgia's open Senate seat
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- Alison Lundergan Grimes hits Mitch McConnell over jobs
- Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff locked in dead heat
- Georgia Senate race heats up as Kingston, Perdue ready for runoff
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Norway expects imminent 'concrete threat' from ISIL terrorists 'within days'
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- ISIL captured 52 U.S.-made howitzers; artillery weapons cost 500K each
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq