“One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other—Honest.”
I’d intended to take a break from the old politics things today in observance of your holiday and all that, but apparently The Flipflopper-in-Chief never sleeps:
Directly contradicting his senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told CBS that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is “a tax.”
Earlier this week, Fehrnstrom said in a TV appearance that Romney has the same view as the White House on the individual mandate: that it’s a penalty, rather than a tax. Romney instituted a state-level mandate to buy health insurance as governor of Massachusetts.
But Romney shifted gears in a sit-down with Jan Crawford, declaring that President Barack Obama broke his pledge not to raise taxes by imposing the individual mandate.
“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. They have spoken. There’s no way around that,” Romney said. “The American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made — said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans.”
CBS hasn’t posted the full video of Romney’s interview yet, so it’s not clear if Romney addressed Fehrnstrom’s comments, or whether his remarks on the mandate today mean he also raised taxes in Massachusetts. Republicans have urged Romney to campaign comprehensively against the law known as Obamacare, even if that means talking around his record as governor.
UPDATE II: In longer interview excerpts released by the Romney campaign, the Republican candidate argues that there’s a distinction between a state mandate and a federal mandate when it comes to taxation. The Supreme Court said the federal government can only impose a mandate as a tax, Romney argues, but that doesn’t mean a state mandate has to be defined as a tax.
Talk around this, Mitt:
Massachusetts is a model for getting everybody insured. The right way to proceed is to reform healthcare. That we can do as we did it in Massachusetts.—Governor Mitt Romney
4) Massachusetts Personal Income Tax Return; Requirements Relating to Health Insurance Coverage.
(a) Residents Required to Report Health Insurance Coverage on Personal Income Tax Return.
A resident who files or is required to file a Massachusetts personal income tax return is required to indicate on the return whether he or she had creditable coverage in force during the taxable year, as described below, and as applicable, to document such coverage. Coverage may be individual coverage or coverage as a named beneficiary of a policy covering multiple individuals. Generally, this documentation will be accomplished by providing information furnished to the resident on Form MA 1099-HC, as discussed in 830 CMR 111M.2.1(8). If the coverage requirement cannot be demonstrated and coverage is deemed affordable for the taxpayer, the taxpayer will be assessed the penalty at M.G.L. c. 111M, § 2, unless an exception applies (as described in 830 CMR 111M.2.1(6)).
5) Penalty for Failure to Obtain Affordable Health Insurance Coverage.
(a) Penalty; In General.
In general, a resident who has access to affordable health insurance coverage but does not obtain and maintain the coverage may be subject to a penalty under M.G.L. c. 111M, § 2, which will be imposed through the resident’s personal income tax return. If the coverage requirement cannot be demonstrated and no exception applies, the taxpayer will be assessed the penalty as further provided in this subsection.
Except as provided in this regulation, the penalty will be assessed and collected in the manner of a tax under M.G.L. c. 62C.