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July 03, 2012

Allen West: Romney Needs To Get Better Counsel From His Advisers; ObamaTax Is a Tax

At Politico:

“It’s a tax,” the Florida Republican told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. “I think that the governor probably needs to look at who he has within his circle of advisers, and probably get … them to provide the right type of counsel and advice.”

This was precipitated by Romney adviser Eric Fernstrohm agreeing that ObamaTax was not a tax -- his argument is that it's not a tax, it's a penalty, ergo it's unconstitutional.

Now, this argument has appeal to Romney because he also imposed a mandate, and doesn't want the "tax-hiker!" charge leveled at himself.

But here's the thing: If ObamaTax is in fact a tax, then doesn't that mean... Justice Roberts got it right?

There's a lot of games-playing going on with politics, obviously. We're in campaign season, after all. The candidates do it, we do it.

I think a little too much is being pushed on to this point. On one hand, we're trying to recover some win from Roberts' disastrous decision by saying, "Well, at least he said it was a tax; that's politically useful."

On the other hand, we're insisting he got it wrong.

Well, if it got it wrong, it's not a tax. (Or I suppose there is a way to thread this needle: It's a tax, but an illegal tax, because it is not imposed for purposes of general revenues, but to force people into compliance with a federal law in an area the federal government has no authority... which actually winds up being a penalty, not a tax, so I guess that doesn't work.)

There's a lot of having-it-both-ways going on from all corners. Including from activists and pundits. I'm not sure how you can, in a single breath, declare Roberts' opinion in great error, and then castigate Romney for not embracing the erroneous opinion.

I Also Don't Get... Why this is supposedly a politically effective characterization.

People already didn't like the mandate. They didn't like it for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that they didn't like ObamaTax's takeover of health care, and the mandate was the most vulnerable avenue for undoing it.

People know what the mandate is. I think. Okay, I agree, some nitwits still don't know what it is, but whether they'll ever understand is anyone's guess.

But my point is people already have opinions on the mandate. Mostly, anyway. Does their opinion change if it's retroactively declared a "tax"? We can call things whatever we like, I guess; does that change the nature of what they are?

The people who didn't like the mandate -- more than a majority -- will, presumably, continue not liking it, knowing it's been declared a tax. No change there.

The people who like the mandate -- well, few actually like the mandate; but people who like Obama, and want him to get his Big Win -- like taxes so they don't really care all that much.

I guess we're down to those very, very low-information voters who might still have no opinion. But will their opinions be changed by the odd fact pattern that something that was claimed not to be a tax, and which looks like a penalty for noncompliance, is retroactively deemed a tax by the Supreme Court, in an opinion that neither the left nor the right embraces as sound in its reasoning?

This doesn't mean we shouldn't call ObamaTax a tax. Obviously, I'm doing it like crazy (and in fact I was, as far as I know, the first to call it ObamaTax).

But there's this attempt to claim that this is the point that swings the election, and we must all be on the same page about this, and then... I don't know. I find this habit annoying, the We Must All Agree To Agree thing.

So, call it a tax. I will. But how much does this actually matter? Even if we were all on the same page -- and Romney declared, "Yes, I raised taxes on Massachusetts taxpayers, just as Obama did on American ones" -- how much of an impact would our Unified Front actually have?

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posted by Ace at 02:10 PM

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