July 5, 2012

Mitt Romney says "The Supreme Court has the final word. And their final word is that Obamacare is a tax."

Interviewed by Jan Crawford, Romney takes the clear, straightforward separation-of-powers position. The judiciary has the work of saying what the law is:
So it is a tax and it's constitutional. That's -- that's the final word. That's what it is. Now, I agreed with the dissent. I would have taken a different course. But the dissent wasn't the majority. The majority has ruled. And their rule is final.
Crawford moves in with the challenge Romney will always have to deal with: You did the same thing in Massachusetts. If this was a tax, then that was a tax. And we expect him always to answer in about the same way: There's a difference between doing something at the federal level and doing it at the state level.

As a lawprof, I see the consistent separation-of-powers theme.
The Constitution gives the judiciary the power to interpret the law, and it gives Congress the power to make the law, but under our system of federalism, Congress's power to make law is limited to a set of enumerated powers. The Supreme Court case was about whether Congress could regulate and require people to buy health insurance, and the answer on that question was that Congress does not have that power. The only reason the Supreme Court appeared to uphold the mandate was that on closer inspection, the Chief Justice decided that there wasn't a requirement to buy insurance at all, despite what the people believed was happening when the law was passed — when the law squeaked by in Congress.

The Chief Justice, the deciding vote, looked and decided that there was no mandate at all, just an option that people were given: Either buy insurance, from a private insurance company, or pay an amount of money to the federal government, and the Chief Justice said that second option, if seen as a tax, could be upheld under the enumerated power that is the taxing power. That may seem awfully strange to people, but in Massachusetts, there was no need to think about it in a strange way like that, because the state's powers are different. The state legislature is not restricted to the Constitution's enumerated powers. The state legislature has the powers of government that are left after the Congress has gotten its set of enumerated powers. That is our system of federalism, and the more expansively the Supreme Court reads those enumerated powers, the less is left for the states, and that is an important rearrangement of constitutional powers.

But that's lawprof talk. Too long. Romney needs to make the federalism point in a convincing, snappy way, and he's got to do it with the interviewer coming at him with the you-raised-taxes challenge — as if the main thing people want to hear about is whether taxes will be raised. And in legal terms, that's just weird, because a penalty — the term used by Congress — is a harsher matter than a tax. The Chief Justice said the "penalty" could be seen as a tax because it was so little that it didn't amount to compulsion. In this view, Congress refrained from forcing people to buy insurance, and because of that, the law survived. But the word "tax" is a hot word in presidential politics, so what was milder ends up seeming more severe.

That's a lot to process in a media interview. You can't say all that. I think I put that in a clear and conversational way, but I know that in political discourse it would sound ridiculously blabby and didactic. And it is Romney's greatest point of vulnerability — his work on health care in Massachusetts. It's especially important that he avoid giving us the feeling that he's dancing around the truth and over-explaining. He says:
Actually, the -- chief justice, in his opinion, made it very clear that, at the state level -- states have the power to put in place mandates. They don't need to require them to be called taxes in order for them to be constitutional. And -- and as a result, Massachusetts' mandate was a mandate, was a penalty, was described that way by the legislature and by me. And so it stays as it was.
Pretty good! He's denying that he raised taxes. The same thing, at the state level, isn't a tax, because not only was it not called a tax, but it didn't need to be relabeled a tax — "it stays as it was" — in order to make it constitutional. Relabeling was a special trick needed to conjure up federal power. We didn't need that trick to make it constitutional in Massachusetts.

That's enough to move Crawford on. She says: "Whatever it's called... it means that Americans, if they don't have insurance, are going to pay something, whatever they call it." What I'd jump on there is her use of the word "Americans." Romney was never involved in telling Americans what to do, only Massachusetters. Romney says:
You know, I made it very clear throughout my campaign and actually, while I was governor of Massachusetts, that the issue of the uninsured should be dealt with at the state level. And each state can create their own solutions to meet the needs of their people.
Think of the restraint it takes to stop there. Implied in that is: Hello? It was Massachusetts, the most liberal state in the country. What was I supposed to do? I worked with these people to give them something that suited their preferences, as liberals. This is the genius of federalism, that policies are designed at the state level. Massachusetts got a Massachusetts-style policy, and that's not going to be what other states get. It's not one-size-fits-all when you take the federalism — leave-it-to-the-states — approach, which is what I'm talking about. The federal law that the Supreme Court upheld foisted the most liberal state's preference on all of the states. That's what I object to.

Now, that's what I'd be tempted to say, but you can't say all that. It's blabby and defensive, and it's technical and weird. But he essentially said that, didn't he? He can leave it to others to expand into the Massachusetts-specific material.

Crawford goes on to challenge him about he statement — which appears on his website — that he would choose Supreme Court Justices who are like John Roberts. Does he maybe want to change that? Romney says:
Well, I certainly wouldn't nominate someone who -- I knew -- was gonna come out with a decision I violently disagreed with or vehemently, rather, disagreed with. 
(He disapproved of his use of the word "violently.")
And he reached a conclusion I think that was -- not accurate and not -- an appropriate conclusion. But -- that being said, he's a very bright person. And I -- I'd look for -- individuals that have intelligence and believe in following the constitution.
A very bland answer. (Except for the violence.)

Crawford brings up her own journalistic scoop — that Roberts supposedly "switched his vote." "He was initially with the conservatives to strike down the heart of the law, the individual mandate, and then changed his mind to join the liberals to uphold it?" Romney says:
Well, it -- it gives the impression that the decision was made not based upon constitutional -- foundation but instead -- political consideration about the -- relationship between the branches of government. But we won't really know the answers to those things until the justice himself speaks out -- maybe some time in history.
See what he did? He got in there and took his shot: Roberts yielded to political pressure. But the punch is pulled. We get an "impression," but we don't "really know," and blah blah blah... maybe someday... history....

He made the harsh criticism and left us feeling that he wasn't harsh, that he was moderate and thoughtful and disinclined to get ugly. And yet, he was ugly enough to hurt.

96 comments:

Chuck66 said...

Was on the road yesterday afternoon. Heard the top-of-the-hour radio news at least twice (national network). They said "Romney, contradicting one of his top advisors, said the mandate is a tax".

Huh? I want to hear the full quote by this mysterious "top advisor". The context. And what does something some "top advisor" said need to be mentioned?

John M Auston said...

. . . ugly enough to hurt.

Sigh. Was a nice, reasoned article, until you blew it with those last four words.

Matthew Sablan said...

Chuck: Here you go.

The key part though is here:

"The Supreme Court left President Obama with two choices: the federal individual mandate in Obamacare is either a constitutional tax or an unconstitutional penalty. Governor Romney thinks it is an unconstitutional penalty. What is President Obama's position: is his federal mandate unconstitutional or is it a tax?" Romney campaign spokewsoman Amanda Henneberg said.

Matthew Sablan said...

But, Romney handled the interview very, very well.

Nonapod said...

"The Chief Justice said the "penalty" could be seen as a tax because it was so little that it didn't amount to compulsion"

A tax is compulsion by definition.

Mary Beth said...

And yet, he was ugly enough to hurt.

It's not like he said it during a State of the Union address.

Eustace Chilke said...

The court says it's a tax. In the Senate the repeal effort will be taken up as a tax. This removes the description from the realms of rhetoric and grounds it in real events. The president isn't going to get much traction calling it anything but a tax is my bet.

Romney's problem is going to be distinguishing Obamacare from Romneycare. AA is right that the enumerated powers argument is - and how bad a sign is this? - too complicated for presidential politics.

I think it's funny to watch Democrats trying to run on Obamacare with their base and against Romneycare with swing voters. I don't know who is stupid enough to buy such bullshit but I've been amazed at people's capacity for it before and I will be again I expect.

AprilApple said...

I think the bigger problem is the destruction of the private insurance market. Anyone left standing will not actually be private. I will be a single huge entity fed by tax payer dollars and controlled by the government. Small and medium sized insurance companies will go the way of the dinosaur. Employers will drop coverage; individuals won't be able to shop for competitive rates. That will all be gone. It is almost gone now anyway. But that is hidden behind the whole "we are going to tax you/penalize you for not buying it", which is a side issue.
The whole thing is a set up to roll us into tax payer funded government controlled single payer system. Just look at old footage of Obama insisting we must get to a single payer system with incremental steps. Step one: spend decades regulating and vilifying the private market so that it no longer works. Break it. Then proclaim! I'm a good guy, I care, and I'm going to fix it with this! and here comes the centralized system... (Mussolini would be proud)

edutcher said...

The two views are not mutually exclusive and at no time did the Romney camp step on anybody advancing the tax argument (in fact, the RNC came out with a new ad about it yesterday) before yesterday (as, say, McCain did with anyone invoking Choom's middle name).

In fact, the whole thing is rather pragmatic.

My own view is that this is more the media (both sides) trying to gin up a story over a slow news week.

WV "Hotsona" A very attractive sona.

ricpic said...

When the decision about whether you live or die is in the hands of a death panel the relationship between the citizen and the state is forever changed. And the Republican establishment is okay with that. Whether Romney wins by a squeaker or wins big in November the most he and Mitch and John will do is "tinker."

Colonel Angus said...

Romney's problem is going to be distinguishing Obamacare from Romneycare.

He doesn't have to. He can credibly oppose both by stating his position has evolved.

AJ Lynch said...

Romney will abide by court rulings and enforce the laws. He won't lower himself and stoop by criticizing SC rulings in his State of The Union addresses nor will he lobby against the courts while they have a case before them.

Romney is an exact opposite of President Obama and that is his biggest strength. He should wield that difference in his campaign. It could be a powerful message.

Hagar said...

You can call it anything you want, but as far as majority leader Mitch McConnell is concerned, it will be a "tax" come January.

As far as "Romneycare" is concerned, it apparently had a majority approval in the State of Massachusetts, passed the State legislature in reasonably normal fashion, and Governor Romney signed it into law.

"Obamacare" is disliked or outright hated by a majority of the American people, and was passed by a minority faction in Congress by the most shameful parliamentary practices we have seen yet in that body.

There is no comparison between the two cases, but Jan Crawford cannot get that through her glibberal head.

garage mahal said...

Ok so we're calling it _______, so that's what it's called! Very well handled.

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Sablan said...

Garage: If you want, it can be an unconstitutional penalty. That just means we should repeal it faster. Words have meaning; in this case, to have a meaning that wasn't having it thrown out of court, your side got stuck with tax.

Oh well.

edutcher said...

Colonel Angus said...

Romney's problem is going to be distinguishing Obamacare from Romneycare.

He doesn't have to. He can credibly oppose both by stating his position has evolved.


Considering he was working with quite possibly the most Leftist state legislature in the history of the planet, that isn't hard.

Even a cursory look at the machinations behind Romneycare show that battle.

It's one of the reasons I have fewer trepidations about voting for him than I might otherwise have.

Hagar said...

"Obamacare" is disliked or outright hated by a majority of the American people, and was passed by a minority faction in Congress by the most shameful parliamentary practices we have seen yet in that body.

As it's the most unpopular measure to be foisted on the American people since Prohibition, I think it eventually will be killed, one way or another.

After all, it took 14 years to kill Prohibition, and that was a Constitutional Amendment.

Tim said...

"He made the harsh criticism and left us feeling that he wasn't harsh, that he was moderate and thoughtful and disinclined to get ugly. And yet, he was ugly enough to hurt."

I disagree.

I think Romney handled this well.

He's communicating to true moderate, swing voters that the Court's ruling stands and is determinative, i.e., it's a tax because the Court says it's a tax, and by so doing, communicates to them he's not a bomb thrower.

His last answer tells people like me, "yeah, Roberts fucked it up, for the worst reason - he decided to be political." Voters like me want some assurance Romney gets it - and with this answer, he sends that message.

The only ones who might agree that it's "ugly enough to hurt" are probably left-of-center swing voters still looking for a reason, any reason, to vote for Obama.

After all, what Roberts did was far uglier than what Romney said of Roberts action.

Tim said...

"He doesn't have to. He can credibly oppose both by stating his position has evolved."

He doesn't even have to do that. He can simply say States (outside of Medicaid and Medicare) are free to do as they wish.

Pettifogger said...

"As a lawprof, I see the consistent separation-of-powers theme"

As a lawyer, I do, too. And Romney's position that the Supreme court's opinion means it has to be regarded as a tax is also good. What's not good is what is not distinguishable between Romney care and Obamacare: a disregard for individual liberty.

It will be interesting to see if Democrats understand that well enough to raise it. Of course, Democrats talking about individual liberty are risible.

garage mahal said...

Considering he was working with quite possibly the most Leftist state legislature in the history of the planet, that isn't hard.

LOL. He just couldn't veto it?

Gabriel Hanna said...

This goes back to the bee in my bonnet about the overuse of "lie".

Some people have said Obama was "lying" when he said the mandate was not a tax, because the Court has now said it was a tax. Those people must now say that Romney was "lying" when he said it was unconstitutional, because the Court has said it was constitutional.

Neither was lying, because neither of them said something they knew at the time to be false, which they intended to deceive people.

However, Obama's lawyers did argue, before the Court, that the mandate is a tax, when they argued in Congress that it wasn't. While this is shady, and maybe even deceptive, it's not a lie--if the tax/mandate distinction is something that has to be settled by the Court at a future date, no one could have known which it was.

A liar has enough respect for the truth to say the opposite of it. A bullshitter tells you what he thinks is going to be of advantage.

Brennan said...

Arguing with Democrats about what is a tax and what is not is a tax is like arguing with a dog over why they lick their junk.

Repealing the Obama tax cuts for the rich, they argue, is not a tax increase even though the rate is going from 35% to 39%.

Matthew Sablan said...

Garage: No. He reached what is known as a "compromise." They could probably over ride his veto, so he "compromised" with them so everyone could get a little of what they wanted. This is a novel concept to many politicians.

Bender said...

So Obama and the congressional Dems lied when they insisted it wasn't a tax. And they are lying now.

So what?

Roberts also effectively said that fraud and deceit in lawmaking were within the Taxing Power.

Look, someone lied about it being a tax. And either Roberts called Obama, et al. liars in his court opinion, or it was Roberts himself who lied in his sophistry of saying that a penalty-backed government mandate was a "tax."

Either way, Roberts effectively said that it is perfectly fine and proper under the Constitution for various branches of government to engage in dishonesty and duplicity and lies.

In short, Roberts destroyed the rule of law with his lawless and anti-constitutional decree. And, yes, it is possible for even the U.S. Supreme Court to violate the Constitution, which is exactly what it did last week.

Matthew Sablan said...

"While this is shady, and maybe even deceptive, it's not a lie--"

-- It is. Most commentators said if it were a tax, it could pass constitutional muster. But, calling it such was toxic, politically. It was not a surprise that some people might consider it a tax. They lied, through omission and commission, multiple times to play a rigged shell game. But it is OK, because everyone knows it now.

Bill said...

"Romney's problem is going to be distinguishing Obamacare from Romneycare."

Oh, that's easy. Romneycare covered undocumented workers and abortions. Obamacare does not.

Brennan said...

Gabriel: If Obama's Solicitor General argues that the "penalty" is a tax, can we still assume that Obama knew it was a tax and therefore is lying, intentionally.

Here's the transcript.

GENERAL VERRILLI: No. Our position is that person should give the answer "no."

JUSTICE KAGAN: And that's because —

GENERAL VERRILLI: That if they don't pay the tax, they violated a federal law.

JUSTICE KAGAN: But as long as they pay the penalty —

GENERAL VERRILLI: If they pay the tax, then compliance with the law.

JUSTICE BREYER: Why do you keep saying tax?

GENERAL VERRILLI: If they pay the tax penalty, they're in compliance with the law.

JUSTICE BREYER: Thank you.


Source: Althouse

Brennan said...

The Democrats(Obama, Reid, and Pelosi) lied that tax wasn't a tax in order to pass a law that a majority of Americans don't like.

Fact!

edutcher said...

Bill said...
Romney's problem is going to be distinguishing Obamacare from Romneycare.

Oh, that's easy. Romneycare covered undocumented workers and abortions. Obamacare does not.


Lie. Lie.

ObamaTax does cover abortions.

And illegals. And, if it hadn't before, it did when Choom made his own DREAM Act.

So two lies.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Brennan: can we still assume that Obama knew it was a tax and therefore is lying, intentionally.

No, because they didn't argue that until they got into Court and the mandate argument wasn't working.

If the mandate is against you, pound on the tax; if the tax is against you, pound on the mandate; if both are against you pound on "the rich". I guess. It's not lying, it's being a lawyer.

There are many ways to trick and deceive and say whatever it takes to get the result you want, but they are not all lies.

Tim said...

"LOL. He just couldn't veto it?"

Smart people know about veto-overrides.

Dumb people do not.

Smarter people realize that if the threat of a veto override is as realistic as it was in Massachusetts, then the prudent thing would be to cut a better deal that might possibly work than to let the unhinged idiots in the Legislature pass something that satisfies their fantasies but is completely unworkable.

Note: I write this fully aware of the fact you will have no idea what any of this means.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Brennan:The Democrats(Obama, Reid, and Pelosi) lied that tax wasn't a tax in order to pass a law that a majority of Americans don't like.

Then the Republicans lied when they said it wasn't constitutional. Don't be a hack just because you think Team Blue is. Pick a standard and apply it fairly.

Bender said...

as far as majority leader Mitch McConnell is concerned, it will be a "tax" come January

And if the Republicans do not take the Senate, or Romney does not win, then what?

What will the Republicans do then? Will they do anything substantial to stop ObamaCare, or will they merely have a few show votes, a few gimmick votes, as part of a "elect us next time" strategy?

Or will Boehner, McConnell, et al. continue to empower Obama? Will they continue to enact Obama's spending levels, will they continue to approve increases in the national debt limit?

Or will they grow a spine and a pair of testicles (which if they had only one pair, they could share amongst the lot of them and that would be two more than they all have now) and say we are spending only X amount, and the other $1.3 trillion that Obama wants will not be appropriated at all? Will they refuse to appropriate funds for the White House, or the IRS, or the Justice Department at all? Or will the Republicans, as they have until now, continue to fund the machinery of ObamaCare?

You don't need the Senate or the presidency to bring ObamaCare to a screeching halt if you take seriously the constitutional power of checks and balances that the Republicans do have and have had for the last year, but, like the squishes they are, have refused to exercise.

Brennan said...

Then the Republicans lied when they said it wasn't constitutional.

If the Republicans say "I believe the ruling was wrong and the tax is unconstitutional", that is not a lie. It's a belief.

The standard is the same.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Brennan:If the Republicans say "I believe the ruling...

So you're going to condemn every Republican as a liar who did not say "I believe"? I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Enjoy your greasy slide into tribalistic, feces-flinging politics-for-its-own-sake. You won't be lonely.

Brennan said...

If a Republican lies about something, yes, I will call them a liar.

Will I be searching them out? It's unlikely. But I am not excusing lies.

AprilApple said...

Brennan said:
"Repealing the Obama tax cuts for the rich, they argue, is not a tax increase even though the rate is going from 35% to 39%."


The 39% is just for starters. It doesn't include the new ObamaCare taxes, the new higher capital gains taxes, and the long list of other taxes bundled inside of ObamaCare. It doesn't include property taxes and sales taxes.

The democrat party thinks it's ok to walk away with 40-70% of your property. The democrat clientele class are waiting to pocket your money. (Faux green starts-ups, Solyndra, billionaires like Warren buffet and Pat Stryker, wall street, unions etc...)
If the Bush tax rates are allowed to expire, the lowest earners and middle income earners get a kick in the ass too.
But no worry, the democrats can argue that the rich don't pay enough with their bullshit class warfare.

damikesc said...

Huh? I want to hear the full quote by this mysterious "top advisor". The context. And what does something some "top advisor" said need to be mentioned?

That's what I don't get. If an advisor says something and Romney says something else --- what Romney said is the answer since HE is the candidate.

Do people ask Obama about moronic things Biden says regularly?

LOL. He just couldn't veto it?

LOL. MA has no mechanism to override vetoes?

He got the best bill he could get in that state and signed it. If he vetoed it, it would've become a worse bill than it already was.

Better to take a bullet to the arm than a bullet to the chest, even though both options stink.

Some people have said Obama was "lying" when he said the mandate was not a tax, because the Court has now said it was a tax. Those people must now say that Romney was "lying" when he said it was unconstitutional, because the Court has said it was constitutional.

Neither was lying, because neither of them said something they knew at the time to be false, which they intended to deceive people.


...except the Solicitor General explicitly called it a tax in front of the SCOTUS.

So, no, it's not comparable --- but nice sophistry.

Saying that a bill is unconstitutional is an opinion -- just like Obama, to use your silly example, "lied" when he said the mandate was Constitutional (it wasn't, ALSO per the SCOTUS).

damikesc said...

So you're going to condemn every Republican as a liar who did not say "I believe"? I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Given that you won't condemn Obama for vehemently and repeatedly saying it's not a tax and then having the S.G of the USA argue otherwise, you have no room to speak.

Rocketeer said...

Just a style pointer: "Massachusettser" is grating.

We prefer to be called "Massholes."

Hagar said...

And if the Republicans do not take the Senate, or Romney does not win, then what?

We will have deserved what we get, just like the folks in Mssachusetts.

garage mahal said...

Smarter people realize that if the threat of a veto override is as realistic as it was in Massachusetts, then the prudent thing would be to cut a better deal that might possibly work than to let the unhinged idiots in the Legislature pass something that satisfies their fantasies but is completely unworkable.

Here is Romney "There really wasn't Republican or Democrat in this. People ask me if this is conservative or liberal, and my answer is yes."

Colonel Angus said...

Here is Romney "There really wasn't Republican or Democrat in this. People ask me if this is conservative or liberal, and my answer is yes."

I'm not sure you realize it but that Romney quote actually confirms Tim's earlier comment.

If anything, Romneycare speaks will for Mitt's ability to work in a bi-partisan fashion in contrast to Obama shutting out the GOP. Mitt, for whatever faults he may have, at least displayed leadership, a trait woefully lacking with the current President.

cubanbob said...

Gabriel Hanna said...
@Brennan:The Democrats(Obama, Reid, and Pelosi) lied that tax wasn't a tax in order to pass a law that a majority of Americans don't like.

Then the Republicans lied when they said it wasn't constitutional. Don't be a hack just because you think Team Blue is. Pick a standard and apply it fairly.

7/5/12 10:04 AM

The republicans were correct, the court said that the bill as a mandate was impermissible. And the democrats said it was a mandate so they were telling the truth. Obama campaigned in 2008 saying it wasn't a mandate, contrary to what Hillary claimed.
Then he said it was a mandate, then his solicitor general argued it was a tax. Lies, lies and more lies.

Michael said...

It is not up to Romney or Obama to decide what to call the tax. The SC has ruled that it is constitutional ONLY because it is a tax. Thus, a tax.

Romney would do well to do what politicians never ever do and that is publicly admit that the Mass. Health plan was a mistake with a capital M. He could go from there to credibility with respect to thehorrors awaiting the middle class resulting from the Obama Health Tax.

Colonel Angus said...

If the Bush tax rates are allowed to expire, the lowest earners and middle income earners get a kick in the ass too.

To be fair, the middle income earners make up a large part of the roughly 50% that pay no Federal income tax.

The fact is whether we like it or not, higher taxes across the board is simply a necessity. We cannot maintain the services we receive when half of the wage earners are exempt from paying their fair share of the Federal government's largest source of revenue.

Bryan C said...

"No, because they didn't argue that until they got into Court and the mandate argument wasn't working."

That's incorrect. They did argue it as a tax and rejected it. As is pointed out in the dissent, an earlier version of the ACA explicitly called it a tax. They knew perfectly well it wouldn't pass as a tax. The decision to recast it as a "mandate" under the commerce clause was a conscious deception by the administration and the Democratic congressional leadership.

AprilApple said...

Colonol Angus - I think you mean low income earners.
The middle class isn't off the hook. Middle income earners are the tax sweet spot. To say the middle income earners do not pay taxes, is silly. Our money is spent unwisely. We can argue that we want more/ need more services, but there will never be enough money in the private sector to pay for it, even if we all agreed to remove 100% of private wealth and give it all to the government.

Michael K said...

"The whole thing is a set up to roll us into tax payer funded government controlled single payer system. Just look at old footage of Obama insisting we must get to a single payer system with incremental steps. Step one: spend decades regulating and vilifying the private market so that it no longer works. Break it. Then proclaim! I'm a good guy, I care, and I'm going to fix it with this! and here comes the centralized system... (Mussolini would be proud)"

Bingo!

The Obamacare travesty will also destroy the medical profession while it is at it. The process is already far along as big institutions maneuver to take advantage of the Obamacare law's features that have NOT made the news.

When Canada did this, there was the USA next door. WE have no "next door."

MadisonMan said...

Brennan: How do you tell when a politician is lying?

Words are coming out of their mouth.

Colonel Angus said...

Middle income earners are the tax sweet spot. To say the middle income earners do not pay taxes, is silly. Our money is spent unwisely. We can argue that we want more/ need more services, but there will never be enough money in the private sector to pay for it, even if we all agreed to remove 100% of private wealth and give it all to the government.

I suppose we would need to define what constitues middle income earners. Data I have seen from the IRS indicates the top 10% earned roughly between $100 and $200K and paid almost 25% of the Federal income tax in 2009.

If we take middle income to be $50 to $75K, they paid about 9% of the Federal income tax. Below $50K, the percentages are negligible. If the Bush tax cuts are repealed, yes the middle class will be affected in proportion to the tax savings they saw in 2003. Those making $100k and up will feel the bite far more.

The problem is we have a very small segment of taxpayers that are paying the lion's share of taxes. This is simply unsustainable not to mention unfair.

damikesc said...

Romney would do well to do what politicians never ever do and that is publicly admit that the Mass. Health plan was a mistake with a capital M. He could go from there to credibility with respect to thehorrors awaiting the middle class resulting from the Obama Health Tax.

But he might not feel it is a mistake. He might still view it as the best possible option he could take.

I don't care if a state does something stupid (I'll mock NYC all day long for repeatedly electing Bloomberg), but his fascistic tendencies don't impact ME personally. Romneycare had zero impact on me one way or the other.

Obamatax, on the other hand, DOES impact me. I'll likely lose my job insurance within 2 years thanks to it. Hope my kids don't ever get sick or break a bone --- but, hey, they are young boys. That kind of thing has never happened to boys before.

David R. Graham said...

"A liar has enough respect for the truth to say the opposite of it. A bullshitter tells you what he thinks is going to be of advantage."

Well-written but not true. Dissembling ("bullshitting") is a type of lying, and both contemplate the same end: deception.

David R. Graham said...

"There are many ways to trick and deceive and say whatever it takes to get the result you want, but they are not all lies."

You are keen to make this argument stick, having returned to it now thrice by this point. It won't stick. Deception works, but that does not excuse it as not a lie.

Any deception is a lie. Many lawyers make a living deceiving. Their income from deceit does not remove from their necks the label of "Liar" or from their destiny the consequences of lying.

gk1 said...

I keep waiting for obama to talk about obamacare in front of adoring crowds and stopping at every state to boast about what a great program it is. Maybe senators running for their lives will take note and join the president out on the campaign?!/

Freder Frederson said...

Although I suppose you have a point, but of course it has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Romney continues to claim that he did not raise taxes in Massachusetts. If the penalty in the law is a tax at the federal level then the Massachusetts penalty is also a tax.

Whether or not it is a tax is not remotely related to the issues of Federalism you are discussing.

You are just dancing around the truth and over-explaining.

Cedarford said...

Keep in mind there is a substantial, growing part of the middle class - the self employed, small business owners, farmers and ranchers, fishermen, and the jobless whose health benefits have run out - that will look at the awful terrible single payer "tax on Freedom-Lovers!" vs what they pay now under the status quo.
4800 with full healthcare for a tax, vs. what they would pay under the private insurance system (8,000 individual 12,880 family with 5,000 deductable and no dental, etc).

Many, not just liberals, but conservatives and quite a few penny-pinching Tea Party members not yet on the mainly free ride seniors get - may see the details and conclude that the tax option works for them a lot better than the private healthcare market.

The argument that going with the 4800 tax is "anti-Freedom-Loving" and if they love Freedom they should pay 8000/12,880 with deductables, no medical, 1 million lifetime limit, exclusion from ever switching insurers by "pre-existing condition" that sticks them with one company in 1 state..no dental??? It is not a great argument to say the single payer plan is bad for all Americans in the middle class - because it clearly is not!

And the more rabid libertarians are also a little nuts if they say that we should just have private insurance but let each younger person opt out of health insurance - only when they are in an accident or get much older and need heart and cancer medical assistance should they get it. It would be a 40-year free ride for many - nice cars, many vacations, best restaurants - while being careful never to save or invest because bill collectors could take that away.

Cedarford said...

Freder Frederson said...
Although I suppose you have a point, but of course it has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Romney continues to claim that he did not raise taxes in Massachusetts. If the penalty in the law is a tax at the federal level then the Massachusetts penalty is also a tax.

Whether or not it is a tax is not remotely related to the issues of Federalism you are discussing.

You are just dancing around the truth and over-explaining.

-------------------
Freder, you continue to be dumb as well as an enemy-lover.
Romney said he didn't raise taxes because it is true. And you are the one dancing around semantics if you think just because John Roberts declared a mandate a tax in his new language you can retroactively go back 6 years and declare Romney and everyone else in Massachusetts should have realized John Roberts would one day call their (non-tax) mandate a tax...

Freder Frederson said...

The problem is we have a very small segment of taxpayers that are paying the lion's share of taxes. This is simply unsustainable not to mention unfair.

It's also unfair that there is a cap on Medicare and SS taxes, that lower and middle income people pay a much higher percentage of their salaries in other taxes (e.g., gas and sales) than the rich, and that earned income is taxed at a different (generally higher) rate than investment income. But I see very little concern about that unfairness on this blog.

Matthew Sablan said...

I think so much confusion between Republicans and Democrats could be solved if Democrats just realized that states can do things the federal government can't, like call a penalty a penalty without having to dress it up as a tax.

Henry said...

@Chuck66 -- See this article in Commentary. Key graf:

When senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom asserted on Monday that Romney did not believe that the ObamaCare individual mandate was a tax, it ensured the Republican candidate a day’s worth of negative attention. So Romney broke up his July 4th holiday by appearing on CBS News to contradict Fehrnstrom’s stance and position himself with the rest of his party...

Matthew Sablan said...

"But I see very little concern about that unfairness on this blog."

-- Taxation on the poor is terrible, yet Democrats want to tax soda, processed foods, lotteries, gasoline, energy, alcohol and cigarettes, all things that hit the poorest the worst.

Matthew Sablan said...

Also, I'll note that to fix the taxation inequality, only one side ever says, consistently: "Tax the poor less."

Colonel Angus said...

It's also unfair that there is a cap on Medicare and SS taxes, that lower and middle income people pay a much higher percentage of their salaries in other taxes (e.g., gas and sales) than the rich, and that earned income is taxed at a different (generally higher) rate than investment income. But I see very little concern about that unfairness on this blog.

That line of argument works to the extent that I should pay more just because I earn more. That's fine if you wish to subscribe to the wonders of progressive taxation, however I don't, particularly when I'm receiving no additional government benefits for paying a larger percentage of my largesee.

Lower and middle income earners pay a larger percentage of their income on goods and services also. Do you recommend a progressive pricing system so wealthier folks pay more?

yashu said...

LOL. He just couldn't veto it?

From Wikipedia article on "Massachusetts Health Care Reform::

On April 12, 2006, Governor Mitt Romney signed the health legislation.[19] Romney vetoed eight sections of the health care legislation, including the controversial employer assessment.[20] Romney also vetoed provisions providing dental benefits to poor residents on the Medicaid program, and providing health coverage to senior and disabled legal immigrants not eligible for federal Medicaid.[21] The legislature promptly overrode six of the eight gubernatorial section vetoes, on May 4, 2006, and by mid-June 2006 had overridden the remaining two.[22]

Colonel Angus said...

In other words, efforts should be made to broaden the tax base by creating more wealth rather than relying on the top 10% to pay an even larger percentage of the insane amount they currently do.

Joe Schmoe said...

Garage, the MA legislature is over 80% Democrat, more than enough for 2/3 majority to override a veto. Romney vetoed a lot of stuff as MA guv, and he got overrode all the time, 8 times on RomneyCare bills alone.

Joe Schmoe said...

Oops. Yashu beat me to it. And with a better pixel trail.

garage mahal said...

@Joe Schmoe
Fair enough. But I get the sense Romney always advocated for the mandate. Did he attempt to veto that? I don't think so.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel Hanna said...

@damikesc:Given that you won't condemn Obama for vehemently and repeatedly saying it's not a tax and then having the S.G of the USA argue otherwise, you have no room to speak.

Well, I DID call it shady and deceptive, so you are wrong that I didn't condemn him for it. But it's interesting that you think I'm somehow on Obama's side, when all I am calling for is for people to think about the words they use, and use appropriate ones.

Dylan Katz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel Hanna said...

@David R. Graham:Any deception is a lie.

Then why do we have two different words?


When you deceive someone, you get them think something that is not true. When you lie, you SAY something that is not true in ORDER to deceive them.

Think of the apocryphal story of the politician claimed his opponent's sister was a thespian. He said something true, which was completely different from what he intended his audience to understand. Calling this a "lie" misses the entire point of what he did.

If you want to cripple our language by mashing up all of our words so you can use them interchangeably you are welcome to damage your own vocabulary but you can't expect everyone else to go along with you.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@phx:And yet, liberals will tell us that conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers and Libertarians don't really care about the poor!

In other words, let them cake.

The poor are not buying organic kale, which they can't afford the money to buy or time to prepare. Let's raise the prices of the things they enjoy which they CAN afford, so that they might then choose the more expensive options; they will then spend a higher percentage of their income on food and have even less left over for other things.

That's the famous "compassion" we are always hearing about, I guess. Progressive attitudes toward food are a fusion of epicureanism and Puritanism. Only in America is such a thing possible.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

Matthew Sablan said...

"I think so much confusion between Republicans and Democrats could be solved if Democrats just realized that states can do things the federal government can't, like call a penalty a penalty without having to dress it up as a tax."

Sure, but that presumes Democrats have a good-faith interest in knowledge and truth, rather than bolstering a snarky talking point that seems plausible.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@phx: I know you are just getting started and in addition to the benefits of processed food for the poor...

My wife and I do not buy organic foods, but neither do we buy processed foods. We buy raw meats and vegetables, rice, etc. We make no effort to economize on what we buy, if we want a duck we buy one.

Now a duck is the same price as dinner for two at Applebee's--and not duck dinner, but ANY dinner, pretty much. But what with all the raw foods my wife and I spend a lot of time cooking. I make several loaves of bread in a week, for example, and we save a great deal of money, but we expend a great deal of time, which we have.

Poor people do not have that kind of time. Processed food is far better than no food, which is what poverty USED to be in this country. Now, rather than starvation, obesity is a problem of the poor.

So you doubled down on "let them cake".

Tim said...

garage mahal said...

"@Joe Schmoe
Fair enough. But I get the sense Romney always advocated for the mandate. Did he attempt to veto that? I don't think so."


There's a policy reason for that.

Can you figure it out?

You can even use the internet as an open book to answer this.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel Hanna said...

@phx: Incidentally, why do you think energy is bad for poor people?

The weekly fillup is roughly the same for a CEO as it is for his secretary, all else being equal, so why should they pay the same tax?

I remember when enough gas to get to work was a significant chunk of my paycheck. Maybe that was never true for you.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@phx:ou doubled down on your hypocrisy

At what point did I say a course of action for morally obligated for others, which I consider myself not obligated to?

Either you confused me with another commenter, you need a dictionary, or you are trolling. I guess more than one is true. You can't engage someone who is hallucinating what you have said.

damikesc said...

If the penalty in the law is a tax at the federal level then the Massachusetts penalty is also a tax.

It's cute watching you try to make a point.

The states have dramatically more leeway than the Feds do. States can force mandates on their citizens. The Feds cannot.

It being necessary to be a tax to be legal has, literally, no bearing on what a state can do.

Smilin' Jack said...

There's a difference between doing something at the federal level and doing it at the state level.

Only to a lawprof. Those of us on the ground don't really care if our money is confiscated by a state bureaucrat or a federal one.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Smilin Jack:Those of us on the ground don't really care if our money is confiscated by a state bureaucrat or a federal one.

You have a lot better chance of throwing out the bums in your state, than cleaning house in Washington.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cubanbob said...

It's also unfair that there is a cap on Medicare and SS taxes, that lower and middle income people pay a much higher percentage of their salaries in other taxes (e.g., gas and sales) than the rich, and that earned income is taxed at a different (generally higher) rate than investment income. But I see very little concern about that unfairness on this blog.



I will be happy with being given a choice to opt out of both programs as long as I am given back the money I was lied to about being an insurance for the last 40 years I have been paying them. By the time I hit 70 to collect the maximum I could collect I would have been paying in to those programs for 54 years. Had I saved the money for all of those years I will get more than what those programs will ever pay me.

What is unfair is part of the population is compelled to support the stupid, the lazy and the shiftless. Other than does who are deserving poor, the ones with physical and mental handicaps or the relative few that have had a disaster fall upon them, most of the poor adults are poor by choice and are not deserving of help, especially from coerced funds.

Eugene said...

"Crawford moves in with the challenge Romney will always have to deal with: You did the same thing in Massachusetts."

Actually, Romney didn't do this in Massachusetts at all. Romney drafted a plan that didn't have any of the things poeple are compaining about. When it was presented to the legislature the Democrats made dramatic changes and passed the bill. Romney then used his line item veto against the worst of these changes, which force the legislature to vote eight time to override the vetos rather than just once. Each time the Democrats were successful in overriding the veto. After that, as Governor he was sworn to uphold the law as best he could.

The result is that the Massachusetts health care law is not Romney Care at all despite what the left claim. Instead it's simply Democare.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@pnx: That's okay, but you made some pretty ridiculous assertions yourself,

The ridiculousness of my assertions will be judged by those who read them, but that has nothing to do with hypocrisy.

And processed food is hardly "indefensible"--but those who read your lack of defense, and reliance on snark, of your position will come to their own conclusion.

bagoh20 said...

How many votes would change if he answered this question by saying: "Pumpernickel is a tasty bread." Is it really that close a call for anyone that this game play would change their mind? No wonder we often choose so badly. We are just begging to get distracted.

We already know the positions of the two candidates on this. The important question now is what will the candidate commit to doing if elected. Unless you're asking Obama, and then you should ask him why he broke so many promises the last time, and what bullshit lines would he like to offer this time?

Hagar said...

If the truth is as Eugene has it above, I wish that more people that knew would have posted about it sooner.

This must be some more of Romney's quirky sense of seemliness. It really would be all right for him too to defend himself on this subject, even though he was the governor at the time.

Anyway, I am sure the intrepid "investigative reporters" of the MSM are well aware of the circumstances and are wilfully ignoring the true story in favor of their agreed upon "narrative."

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Schmoe said...

Garage, Eugene addresses this above. Romney's preferred version of the bill didn't have a mandate. He wanted citizens to have an 'escape hatch', so to speak. I forget the mechanism he proposed that enabled this. But the legislature massively rewrote the bill as Eugene points out. Romney vetoed; they overrode and then it became law of the land.

Romney wasn't an advocate of the mandate at the time. Since I'm not a giant Romney fan, he may have said things since that sound contrary to his initial position.

The Crack Emcee said...

Hello? It was Massachusetts, the most liberal state in the country. What was I supposed to do?

Be a leader and speak common sense to them. Duh.

Can you hear Chris Christie saying this?

You guys go so easy on this goofball it's shameless,...

Joe Schmoe said...

If the truth is as Eugene has it above, I wish that more people that knew would have posted about it sooner.

Hagar, that's Mitt's job, not ours. He's not great at clear communication, even when he has a clear story to tell. On the plus side, you could contrast his style with Obama's. Switch roles, and Obama would be playing the blame game on the opposition legislature all night and all day.

Tom said...

How do the individual mandates mentioned in the following articles affect the argument about whether the federal government may require them?

Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/01/17/congress-passes-socialized-medicine-and-mandates-health-insurance-in-1798/Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798

If Health Insurance Mandates Are Unconstitutional, Why Did the Founding Fathers Back Them?
http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/102620/individual-mandate-history-affordable-care-act

Doesn't the participation of members of the Constitutional Convention in the passing of individuals related to health care and firearms suggest that they saw this as something the Constitution allowed? Would the Supreme Court consider this as evidence? If not, why?

Any opinion on this would be of interest...