Mitt Romney doesn’t usually do a whole lot that really impresses me, but when he broke from the GOP (and agreed with President Obama) to say that the individual healthcare mandate wasn’t a tax, I was actually impressed. I didn’t have any sudden urges to plaster his bumper sticker on my car, but I was impressed.
It takes courage and a real backbone to break from the Party like that. If we’re going to be stuck with a Massachusetts liberal, flip-flopping Republican for a nominee this presidential election, I’d at least like to see these moments where he takes a stand on his own. I admire politicians who are willing to stand up for what they believe when nobody else will stand with them. So Romney earned a little favor with me on this.
(There were some other reasons he may have had for breaking from the GOP on this issue. I wrote about them earlier this week.)
But now Romney has done what he does so well. He’s changed his mind. Well, kind of.
In an interview with CBS, he shifted his position to say that the mandate is in fact a tax. But his mandate in Massachusetts isn’t a tax; that’s a penalty.
Romney is dancing around semantics on this. This is essentially what Romney is saying:
- He personally believes the mandate is a penalty, but since the Supreme Court says it’s a tax, it’s a tax. That means Obama has raised taxes.
- The federal government can issue the mandate, authorized by its taxing power (which makes the mandate a tax).
- State governments have police power, which means they can issue the same mandate without it being a tax; it’s just a penalty.
Yeah, Mitt, that makes perfect sense. It’s a tax when Obama does it, but it’s a mandate when Romney did it. Here’s what Romney is really saying:
“I get to have my cake, and I get to eat it, too.”
It doesn’t matter what you call it, government requiring people to buy something simply because they exist is an abusive overreach of government. And even though states can constitutionally do it, that doesn’t make it right.
Romney’s defense of his overreaches in Massachusetts plus his recent flip-flopping dance around semantics show us what a cowardly, liberal Republican he is. Mitt Romney may be the Republican to save us from Barack Obama, but who will save us from Mitt Romney?