The conflict of being Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney has always been a conflicted and deeply flawed critic of the Affordable Care Act. This week, he showed just how conflicted he is: Romney stepped all over Republicans’ favorite line of attack following last week’s Supreme Court health care ruling, contradicting his political allies and siding with President Obama in insisting that the penalty for not obtaining insurance under the reform is not a tax, regardless of the Court’s labeling it as one.
Last week, the Supreme Court decided that the Affordable Care Act oversteps Congress’s ability to police interstate commerce. Still, the majority opinion said the national mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance, and penalizing them when they don’t, holds constitutional muster as a tax. This line of reasoning had Republicans off the ledge, and giddily running against “the largest tax increase in the history of the world.”
Romney’s senior advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, put an end to all that talk yesterday. He went on MSNBC and declared his undying love for Antonin Scalia. When pressed, he conceded that the federal health care penalty must not be a tax, since in Massachusetts, Romney had thought of his regime of individual mandates and fines as penalties, not taxes.
“The governor believes that what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty,” Fehrnstrom said, “and he disagrees with the court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax.” And of course, what happened in Massachusetts matters, since Obama’s health care people just took what Romney did here and scaled it up. So now there is much wailing and gnashing of GOP teeth, since Romney would rather guard his own anti-tax flank than decry the monstrous health care tax.
Back in 2006, when Romney yukked it up with Ted Kennedy and Sal DiMasi and Robert Travaglini, health care reform was going to be his legacy. He’d partnered with the eggheads at MIT and pushed through a market-based, Heritage Foundation-endorsed scheme for covering the entire state without wiping out private insurers. He eagerly promoted the Massachusetts health care overhaul as a model for other states. Then Republican politics turned upside down, the individual mandate became the enemy of freedom, and Romney began engaging in some impressive mental gymnastics, whereby he castigated Obama’s health care regime but defended his own, even though they’re both variations on the same theme. And that worked for a while. Until yesterday, when it didn’t.
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Kingston’s embattled town administrator has resigned.
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Scott Brown elbows Elizabeth Warren by heaping praise on Martha Coakley.
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Merrimack College in North Andover puts its athletic director on paid leave, but officials decline to say why, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
The Christian Science Monitor explores how the Bay State has fared under its own health care reforms.
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A program aims to get juvenile offenders running in the right direction.
A loosening of Rhode Island fireworks laws two years ago is worrying Massachusetts fire officials as stores open just over the state line to attract Bay State buyers south of Boston who no longer have to drive to New Hampshire for their holiday explosives. Meanwhile, Holliston’s Marty Lamb, a Republican running for state representative in the 8th Middlesex district, wants to legalize sparklers.
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Dan Gillmor of the Guardian reveals what he told the New York Times during his unsuccessful bid to become the paper’s next ombudsman.