Romney's 'Etch-a-Sketch' Rep: Mandate Is No Tax

Mitt has skirted the issue
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 2, 2012 12:26 PM CDT
Eric Fehrnstrom, adviser to Mitt Romney, speaks after a Republican presidential debate at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – While Republicans have been busily attacking ObamaCare as a tax hike following the Supreme Court ruling, Mitt Romney has stayed quiet; after all, to call it a tax hike would be to acknowledge he raised taxes in Massachusetts. Today, however, spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom—he of "Etch-a-Sketch" fame—stated flat-out that Romney sees the mandate as "a penalty" and "disagrees with the Court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax," the Washington Post reports, thus putting Romney at odds with his party.

Republicans justify the dissonance: They see the mandate as an unconstitutional penalty, but since the Court called it a tax, it's fair game to attack it on those grounds. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign tried to set a semantic trap for Obama today. "The federal individual mandate in ObamaCare is either a constitutional tax or an unconstitutional penalty," said another rep. "Governor Romney thinks it is an unconstitutional penalty. What is President Obama’s position: Is his federal mandate unconstitutional or is it a tax?"

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