Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Romney and the ObamaTax ...

Or, Wait--NO! I mean ... Aiiiieeeeee

Obama: It's Not A Tax. It's A Fee For Service
Supreme Court: It's A Tax--That's How It's Legal
Romney: It's Not A Tax, It's a Penalty
Republicans: WTF!? Dude we ... we ... WTF!?

Apparently Romney's argument is that ObamaCare is just plain unconstitutional: it's not a tax, it's a penalty and it should be judged unconstitutional. The problem is that the Republican media machine is hammering Obama on his ObamaTax and Romney is, well, running defense for him. From RedState:
After Thursday’s SCOTUS decision, many of us took solace in the fact that Obama would have to defend his tax record. Despite the positive spin that the Romney camp is putting out, they seem to have destroyed the only glimmer of optimism we were able to pull out of that judicial tragedy. says this:
The Tea Party has been ready to rally to Romney's side over the Obamacare decision, overlooking his past in order to use him as the vehicle for repealing Obamacare and toppling Obama. But if Romney won't fight for conservative principles, the Tea Party is going to start looking elsewhere--fast. No one wants to live through the frustration of October 2008 all over again. No one wants to watch another conservative capitulate to Obama. This ain't Etch-A-Sketch, Mitt. Go hard or go home.
Everyone else is pretty upset. Except for Obama, probably.

What Do I Think?

... Ahem--ahh. That felt kinda good--but it's not actually (or at least not exactly) what I think. The problem is that while tax increases are a good "hot-button issue" the fact of the matter is that calling Obamacare a tax is not the winning move it probably seems like to a lot of people. Why? Because it forces Romney to say he raised Taxes in Massachusetts--something he's been denying.

Now that Obamacare has been "re-written" as a tax Romney is in a no-win situation: either Obama's a LIAR ... and he's a LIAR too ... or Obama's right ... and he's right too. The problem with having multiple arms of your machine ready to go hair-trigger (with zero-day ads hitting the airwaves and so on) is that you lose combined fire / coordinated fire control.

Ask any Commander In Chief what happens when that happens. Friendly Fire.

The facts of the matter is that almost nobody saw this coming. The Supreme Court did something very unexpected and (IMO) unusual and when you get a sudden sea-change like that you need to step back a bit and reconsider. Maybe Romney should take the fall for having raised taxes? Maybe he can argue it was legal and not a tax in Massachusetts--but is illegal and a tax at a Federal level? Who knows--but no one waited for that.

I also think the issue here is one of morale more than strategy. I'm not sure ordinary people care much about the mechanism of the supreme court decision and claiming it's a tax may sound like a political interpretation (and it is)--but for Romney to get in front of the one "silver lining" and the Roberts-Just-Handed-Us-The-Election narrative that some people were spinning is very bad optics inside his own party.

It also raises the question, as RedState notes as to what's really going on in his head (combined with Rush Limbaugh's assessment that Romney is the one candidate who can't run against Obamacare because of Romneycare).: "However, I’ve got to believe that part of this is to avoid having to call his own healthcare bill, Romneycare, a tax."

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