The national media folks are having a lot of fun playing “gotcha” with Mitt Romney’s comments on the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling. Meanwhile, they helpfully ignore Barack Obama’s much more important and indefensible comments on the same topic.
The Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare’s individual health insurance mandate was unconstitutional as a mandate imposed under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but allowable if imposed as a tax. On Thursday Romney said he personally viewed the mandate as a penalty imposed under the Commerce Clause (which is exactly what the Obama administration argued all along that it was), but since the Supreme Court ruled it a tax, it is therefore legally a tax. The media went bananas.
There is nothing illogical about that distinction. Romney was saying simply that the mandate is legally defined as a tax, so it should be called that. It would be like saying that you don’t think jaywalking should be a crime, but since the law says it is, then it is.
President Obama, on the other hand, claims that the mandate is both constitutional and not a tax, which is doubly at odds with the Supreme Court’s decision. If it is not a tax, then it is a penalty imposed under the Commerce Clause and therefore unconstitutional. The only possible way it can be constitutional is to define it as a tax. But when the President claims the impossible — that it is a constitutional penalty that is not a tax — the big media look the other way.
If the polling is correct and nothing huge changes in the next four months, this race is going to be plenty close. It might be less close if the big media were not so intent on aiding the incumbent.