WASHINGTON -- Fueled by the Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare -- on the basis that the penalty for not buying health insurance is a legal tax -- Mitt Romney's allies are launching a tax attack against the president.
They quickly found that proverbial silver lining in the cloud after the Thursday Supreme Court ruling handed President Barack Obama a big victory for his signature Affordable Care Act.
"President Obama breaks another promise," is the tag line of an ad to start running Saturday on national cable television from the pro-Romney American Crossroads SuperPAC. The spot uses video from a 2008 campaign event where Barack Obama pledges not to raise taxes on people making less than $250,000.
In a conference call with reporters Friday organized by the Republican National Committee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal slammed Obama for breaking his tax pledge.
"I was very disappointed in the ruling, but I do congratulate the Supreme Court on one thing: They were a lot more honest about ObamaCare than President Obama has been. They have rightly called it what it is -- a tax," Jindal said.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in rebuttal, "Already, Mitt Romney and Republicans are out with outright falsehoods about ObamaCare -- their favorite distortion being that this is somehow a broad tax on the middle class.
"In reality, this is all about personal responsibility -- and the 'tax' they are trying to scare everyone about is actually a penalty for the 1 percent of people who can afford insurance but still choose not to buy it, leaving the rest of us to pay for their health care when they head to the emergency room," she said.
† What's new: Jindal is one of many GOP voices jumping on the Supreme Court ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, that said the individual mandate to buy health insurance -- or pay a tax (a k a penalty to Obama, et al) is legal. Though Republicans were disappointed with the decision, they realized they had two new fronts from which to attack Obama: He broke his basic tax pledge and he misled the public in selling his health-care plan by denying the penalty was a tax.
† Obama's new chore: Yes, the penalty for not buying health insurance starting in 2014 is a tax. Yes, the Obama team has explaining to do about how Obama, who taught constitutional law, could have been so certain in stating the penalty was not a tax -- only to have his law saved because his government lawyer sold the tax defense to Roberts.
† But is it a tax increase? The answer depends on what part of a person's tax picture you are considering. Under Obama, for example, everyone who gets a paycheck has been paying less Social Security payroll taxes in 2011 and 2012. If you make $106,800 a year, you are keeping $2,136 more of your own money. And if you have health insurance -- or will be able to obtain it or afford it because of ObamaCare -- you won't be paying any penalty (a k a tax).
† Freeloaders resurface as an issue: Obama and his allies have been noting for years -- and were repeating at week's end -- that people who don't have health insurance -- and can afford it -- are freeloaders and cost shifters. People pay more taxes and higher insurance premiums to health providers to cover the costs for treating people who choose not to be personally responsible and by choice do not get health insurance. Is pressuring people to buy health insurance really a tax increase? Or is it a move toward tax equality?
† Mitt's Massachusetts plan: Watch for even more praise from the Obama team for Romney's individual mandate in the Massachusetts health-care plan, which he signed as governor. "ObamaCare, modeled on Romneycare," was a headline on an Obama campaign memo sent out on Friday. You will hear more of this: The Romney health plan includes a penalty for people who declined to purchase health insurance.