As we established yesterday, the Republicans are presenting conflicting messages on whether or not the individual mandate is a penalty or a tax.
The Obama campaign and the Romney campaign are in agreement that it’s a penalty, but congressional and establishment Republicans are adamant that it’s a tax. And not just any tax, but the “largest tax in history” which they will symbolically vote to repeal on July 11th
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus added fuel to the fire today by reasserting that it absolutely is a tax.
BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): But it sounds like the Romney campaign says it was a penalty. I’m asking you specifically, Republican National Committee Chairman, tax or penalty, which is it?
PRIEBUS: It’s a tax and the reason why it’s a tax is because the Supreme Court number one ruled it was a tax and number two, it’s what Barack Obama’s lawyer argued before the Supreme Court.
The Romney campaign doesn’t want to call it a tax because that would be an admission that he raised taxes while governor. The Obama campaign isn’t calling it a tax because, well, it isn’t. It’s a penalty for those who can afford to purchase insurance but choose not to.
Solicitor General Don Verrilli did not argue that the mandate is a tax, he simply presented congress’s authority to impose taxes as precedent.
At this point I doubt it matters what you call it. The Republicans have already lost control of the narrative and would be better served by moving on.
I’m not encouraging that, however. I say keep going!