Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
We are now in summer silly season for politics. In the week following the Supreme Court's ruling that upheld President Obama's health care plan, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign simultaneously called a tax, and not a tax.
After aide Eric Fehrnstrom said the requirement that people have insurance was not a tax, Mitt Romney said that was, a move designed to help in "aligning himself with the conservative voices in his party.” And in case anyone missed the correction, Romney arranged a quick last-minute interview on the 4th of July with CBS News in which he repeated several times that Obamacare is a tax.
The six people who were watching TV instead of grilling out may have noticed this kerfluffel. Most of America had better things to do including burning their fingers with sparklers.
Why do we political junkies care? Because this incident revealed two things of importance going forward to the fall when people will again be thinking about who should be the next president.
First, this contretemps proves beyond any doubt that Romney is NOT a hard core conservative Republican. “How so?” you ask. Romney’s change of mind on what Obamacare is clearly was a concession to the most conservative wing of the GOP, which had launched an immediate assault on Obama for “passing the biggest middle class tax increase in U.S. history” with the passage of the healthcare act. Remember the Supreme Court upheld the law saying to was a tax and therefore constitutionally in the legitimate jurisdiction of Congress.
Second, this incident pulled an old scab off the Romney campaign, an injury they have been trying to avoid like the plague, namely Romneycare in Massachusetts. If Obamacare could be labeled “a penalty” (for not buying health insurance), then Romney would be in much better shape.
If the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Healthcare Act was acknowledged to be a tax, then Romney suddenly becomes enormously vulnerable for … wait for it … passing the biggest single middle class tax increase – Romneycare – in the history of Massachusetts!