In an interview with CBS News, aired on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reversed himself and got in line with the GOP’s new talking point: That the individual mandate of the 2010 landmark health-care law is “a tax.”
Romney’s statements in this interview contradict remarks made on Monday by one of his senior campaign advisers, Eric Ferhnstrom, that Romney believed the mandate was a “penalty,” not a tax.
The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as “a tax” in its ruling last week Romney said in the interview that he agreed with the dissent in the court’s ruling, but that the dissent lost. The majority of the court said it was a tax, and “therefore it is a tax.”
Romney is in an awkward spot with his views on the individual mandate because of his support of very similar legislation as governor of Massachusetts in 2006.
As previously reported by the Post’s Karen Tumulty and N.C. Aizenman:
Romney’s resistance to calling the individual mandate a tax reflects an awkward history that has dogged his presidential campaign: Although he decries the federal health-care law and vows to lead an effort to repeal it if he is elected, Romney championed and signed very similar legislation when he was governor of Massachusetts.
As the federal law does, the 2006 Massachusetts law imposed a fine on people who refused to buy health coverage. And as Obama does, Romney insisted that it was not a tax. He referred to it as a “penalty” and an “incentive.”
That Fehrnstrom continued to hew to that language with regard to the federal law had the campaign scrambling to explain a position that is at odds with a new favorite talking point of many GOP leaders.