Political Animal


July 02, 2012 11:49 AM Tax! No Tax! Tax! No Tax!

By Ed Kilgore

The Romney campaign finally had to deal with the idiocy of short-term conservative talking points about the Supreme Court’s ACA decision today. And it probably wasn’t an easy choice.

As you may recall, the embarrassment of Fox News’ misreporting of the decision was still in the air on Thursday when a parade of Republican gabbers and conservative talking-heads took to the airwaves to shriek that the Supreme Court had proven the individual mandate was a tax—nay, a middle-class tax increase!—nay, the largest tax increase in the history of the human race!—and thus proven that Obama is a liar!

This frantic spin ignored, of course, the fact that the interpretation of the mandate as a tax was precisely how the Chief Justice arrived at the conclusion that it was indeed constitutional, which is why the conservative dissenters heatedly denied that construction. So the Tax! Tax! Tax! message directly contradicted the Right’s continuing claim that the mandate remains as unconstitutional as it was the day it sprang from the brow of the Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler (oops!) or the day it was implemented in Massachusetts by a certain governor (double-oops!).

This conundrum was particularly unhelpful to the Romney campaign insofar as it attracted fresh attention to the question of whether Romney himself had approved a tax increase as governor (a subject on which Mitt had vacillated in the past), along with the deeper question of whether the man who wants to appoint future Supreme Court members in fact agreed with Roberts’ opinion.

So the latest spin from Romney-land, as explained by David Weigel, was no big surprise:

If you were awake in March and April, you probably remember a line that the increasingly-desparate Rick Santorum kept using against Mitt Romney. “Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama on the issue of health care!….”
Santorum was right. Today’s evidence: Eric Fehrnstrom driving the campaign bus, horns-a-honkin’, right over Americans for Prosperity and the RNC.

Romney agrees with the Court’s conservative dissenters, said Fehrnstrom. The mandate’s not a tax and nor, incidentally, was the RomneyCare mandate a tax. Does this cause a bit of cognitive dissonance for Republicans? You betcha, concludes Weigel:

The advantage that the RNC and AFP have: Total lack of responsibility. They can play in the “anything that makes people pay more money for anything ever is a tax” Olympics. Romney can’t. The result: This healthful serving of word salad.

To add to the confusion, I am sure Team Mitt will continue to rail at the “tax increases” caused by ACA, referring to the actual revenue measures contained in the legislation. But that, of course, has nothing to do with the mandate, the Court’s decision, or indeed anything that has transpired since 2010. Don’t be surprised, however, if the Romney campaign denies it’s out of synch with other Republicans: what’s another lie compared to everything they’ve said on health care from the get-go?

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on July 02, 2012 12:19 PM:

    "what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive"
    Hello Mitt Romney !!! things catch up to you, huh, Mitt? Better run faster.

  • David Sanger on July 02, 2012 12:22 PM:

    "Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn't have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages "free riders" to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. "

    MItt Romney, July 30, 2009, USA Today


  • c u n d gulag on July 02, 2012 12:22 PM:

    Romney trying to distance himself from his own MA plan, is really pretty feckin' funny.
    If only the MSM kept hitting on this.

    It's almost as if Romney's people think Abe Lincoln ran for reelection in 1864, by saying, 'NO! That "Emancipation Proclamations" was really only meant for White House and other Washington, DC slaves - it was NOT intended to be a national program! And that's what this 'War Between the States' is all about - States Rights! I'm for them! General McClellan is the one who really wants to free all of the Negro's in this country - NOT ME!!!"

    And if we had a "Fourth Estate" back then like the MSM we have today, they'd have looked at what Lincoln was saying, comparing it to what Jeff Davis was saying, write it all down, and come to the confusing conclusion, "SEE! Both sides DO IT!!!"

    Oh, and Mitt, while your running away from your own MA health care plan, maybe you need to stop, catch your breath, and explain this:

    “Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show
    And these documents challenge Romney’s claim that he left Bain Capital in early 1999.”


    I wonder how the Domionist Christianista base will feel about Mitt’s company taking once precious “life” and disposing of it like it was garbage?

    They’ll have to figure out how to treat the gravedigger at this Abortion Holocaust Concentration Camp. Isn’t he, to some degree, as culpable as they guy who drew-up the medical plans, and the one who released the Zyklon B abortifacient?

    Of course, being religious means that you can forgive – those you like.

    And being Conservative, means an endless ability to rationalize, and having a bottomless well of self-deception.

    But I'll say this - if the consequences weren't so damn important, I'd really be enjoying this "Mitt Romney - Flip-flopper, or Serial Liar?" reality show.

  • Anonymous on July 02, 2012 12:32 PM:

    It's almost as if Romney's people think Abe Lincoln ran for reelection in 1864, by saying, 'NO! That "Emancipation Proclamations" was really only meant for White House and other Washington, DC slaves - it was NOT intended to be a national program!

    The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to those states in rebellion against the Union, 3.1 million of the estimated 4 million slaves. It did not outlaw slavery, nor did it grant US citizenship to the newly-freed. It took the 13th and 14th Amendments to do those things.

  • DJ on July 02, 2012 12:49 PM:

    That was me as "anonymous" there. Indeed, the lack of national scope of the Proclamation was the reason for contemporary criticism. The saying was that. "where he WOULD (want to free slaves) he COULD not, and where he COULD (the North and the border states that remained in the Union) he WOULD not."

  • estamm on July 02, 2012 1:19 PM:

    Kinda funny... the 'largest tax increase in history' is actually a tax that absolutely no one has to ever pay.

  • Ken on July 02, 2012 2:16 PM:

    @estamm: Perhaps some useful analogy can be made with the state lotteries. By strict Norquistian construction, they are taxes since they produce revenue; but it's a tax that no one has to pay.

  • mmm on July 02, 2012 2:17 PM:

    I wonder when Mitt is nominated for President, will they have to pipe in canned applause and cheering? Maybe some laughter from an old Ed Sullivan show... masks with smiles painted on them...

  • Ronald on July 02, 2012 2:19 PM:

    I am SO happy! The first of the summer blockbusters has arrived! Pass the popcorn! Anti-tax mouth-foaming Teapers vs. Big Insurance 'Call it what you want just gimme mah money', with poor Mitt stuck in the middle. Again. Forced to defend his own health care plan from his own party. Oh. Hell. Yeah.

    And it is only going to get more exciting as people come to know more about Mr. Romney. There was a lot he could hide in a Governors race. This is the big times now kiddo.

    Ed...Would love to see you comment on that Mother Jones article as well. I think it is a big deal- the connection to Bain for Romney was through one of his Carribean subsidiaries- probably set up to avoid paying taxes on the money he made burning aborted fetuses.