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Mitt Romney
When he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney called the individual mandate a tax penalty, but on Monday his top campaign adviser said he had changed his position and no longer believed the mandate was a tax. But now it's 48 hours later and:
Romney shifted gears in a sit-down with Jan Crawford, declaring that President Barack Obama broke his pledge not to raise taxes by imposing the individual mandate.

“While I agreed with the dissent, that’s overtaken by the fact that the majority of the Court said it’s a tax and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There’s no way around that,” Romney said. “The American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made — said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans.”

To call the mandate a middle-class tax hike is a ridiculous piece of spin by Romney, but he's obviously got no other choice than to concede that reality is what it is: the individual mandate—which both he and President Obama have signed into law—is enforced by a tax penalty, which is made possible through the government's taxing power.

Unfortunately, Romney still refuses to recognize the benefits that Obamacare is delivering and will deliver. Surprisingly, the Obama campaign appears nearly as reluctant as Romney to talk about the benefits, as you can see by their response in an emailed statement:

In an interview with CBS today, Mitt Romney contradicted his own campaign, and himself. First, he threw his top aide Eric Fehrnstrom under the bus by changing his campaign's position and calling the free rider penalty in the President's health care law -- which requires those who can afford it to buy insurance -- a tax.  Second, he contradicted himself by saying his own Massachusetts mandate wasn't a tax -- but, Romney has called the individual mandate he implemented in Massachusetts a tax many times before. Glad we cleared all that up.
Getting sucked into the minutia of the debate over whether the mandate is a tax or a tax penalty is a tactical error. Nobody in their right mind will decide to support Obamacare simply because the individual mandate is or isn't a tax. What will sway people is what Obamacare delivers, and the president's message last Thursday about the benefits of the legislation was pitch perfect. That's what the campaign should be focused on.

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