Last week the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare’ as Republicans dubbed it, was constitutional under the federal government’s taxing power.
Republicans immediately latched on to the ruling and quickly claimed that Obamacare constituted a “massive middle class tax hike,” writes Examiner.
At the same time, Republicans have run in to a problem while trying to advance their argument. The problem just happens to be the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
Romney has been unable to join in his party’s sharp new line of criticism on President Obama’s law, which mandates all Americans to buy health insurance and was redefined as a tax by the Court last week, because he himself pioneered the policy.
The debate in fact centers around the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Under that provision, every American must purchase health care insurance, or be subject to a “penalty” or “tax” of $695.
Not surprisingly, Republicans have taken to the airwaves to claim the mandate is a tax, and the White House has pushed back with the argument that it is penalty.
President Obama is accused of breaking a 2008 pledge to not raise taxes on households earning less than $250,000 (£159,000), according to The Telegraph.
“This is a middle-class tax increase,” said Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
However, Mitt Romney is in a difficult position here as he as governor of Massachusetts passed a state health care reform law which is very similar to the Affordable Care Act.
Moreover, the legislation Romney signed as governor also included an individual mandate.
But when Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on Monday on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, he agreed with the host’s assertion that Romney “believes that you should not call the penalty a tax.”
Fehrnstrom explained: “The governor disagreed with the ruling of the Court. He agreed with the dissent written by Justice Scalia, which very clearly stated that the mandate is not a tax.” Later, Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg confirmed that Romney doesn’t consider the mandate a tax, telling ABC News: “Governor Romney thinks it is an unconstitutional penalty.”
Now Mitt Romney repeats that he never believed that “Romneycare”, the Massachusetts system that was copied in the creation of Mr Obama’s reform, should be used across the US, in fact he said in a 2007 speech that it was “a model for the nation”.
Hogan Gidley, a former aide to Rick Santorum – the Right-wing former senator beaten to the presidential nomination by Mr Romney – said in an interview: “I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s a problem for the Republicans.”
Santorum has long claimed that Romney become the “worst candidate” possible to take on Obama over health care. He has also recently criticised the record of the mandate system in Massachusetts, which now has some of the most expensive insurance in the country.
“They have a series of problems with people who decide to take the tax, in other words, pay the fine, instead of buying insurance, because it’s cheaper,” Santorum said. “It doesn’t work.”
In the meantime, the law is still seen unpopular in opinion polls. Yesterday a new ABC News/Washington Post survey found that 47 per cent of Americans viewed the law negatively, compared to 45 per cent who favoured it.
At the same time, a new CNN/ORC International poll finds Obama leading Romney 49 percent to 46 percent. But the poll also found that Romney led 51 percent to 43 percent in 15 swing states.