Mitt Romney said today that the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law was “a tax,” just days after his campaign said the candidate had rejected that characterization.
In an interview with Jan Crawford of CBS News, Mr. Romney said: “While I agreed with the dissent, that’s taken over by the fact that the majority of the court said it’s a tax, and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken.”
“They concluded it was a tax. That’s what it is, and the American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made,” he added. “He said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans. Not only did he raise the $500 billion that was already in the bill, it’s now clear that his mandate as described by the Supreme Court is a tax.”
On Monday, Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign said that the health care mandate should be thought of as a penalty and not as a tax.
That statement, by the campaign’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, was at odds from the general line of leading Republicans in Congress and elsewhere, who have spent the last several days eagerly accusing the president of levying a new tax.
“The governor disagreed with the ruling of the court,” Mr. Fehrnstrom said Monday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.” “He agreed with the dissent written by Justice Scalia, which very clearly stated that the mandate was not a tax.”
The issue of how to characterize the mandate is a sensitive one for the Romney campaign, given how Mr. Romney championed universal health care in Massachusetts when he was governor there. While Mr. Romney has pledged to repeal what conservatives call Obamacare, he had previously largely avoided calling the mandate a tax, perhaps because his Massachusetts plan included a similar mandate.
Mr. Romney made his comment while vacationing Wednesday in New Hampshire.
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