Chief Justice John Roberts (who might want to think about increasing his security detail) is today's number one traitor for the Right. Roberts did conservatives a solid in one thing, however—he gave them their talking point by declaring that the individual mandate isn't really a mandate, but a tax. With some help from Rush Limbaugh, that's the new narrative from Republicans.
Speaker John Boehner calls it a tax hike. Ditto Rep. Joe Walsh (R-FormerlyADeadbeatDad), calling it a "new tax on middle class America." Sarah Palin, of course, piled on.
So did Mitt Romney, putting himself in some dubious company by declaring the same thing: "Obamacare raises taxes."
Well, not really, as Chris Hayes explains:
There is a difference between something being a tax and being permissible under congress' taxing authority.
— @chrislhayes via web
The Supreme Court ruling gives the federal government taxing authority, which is by no means the same as the imposition of a broad new tax.
No, this is not a massive tax increase on the American people. It's a penalty paid by people who choose not to purchase insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will hit about 4 million Americans, about 1 percent of the population. Now, it's refreshing that Republicans care about a different 1 percent for a change, but that still doesn't make this a tax hike.
And what's (way, way) more, most of the federal spending for the ACA is in tax credits for middle class people to help them afford insurance. Which is actually more like a tax cut.
Facts aside, since you know Republicans won't be swayed by them, here's the other part that Republicans, particularly Romney, have to tread carefully around. It's exactly how Mitt Romney expanded health insurance coverage in Massachusetts. If you don't buy health insurance in Massachusetts, guess what? You pay a tax, as Mr. Romney explains at that link. You pay a tax and take personal responsibility. (Remember that phrase, Mr. Romney? It's a real favorite in your set. Or was.)
The individual mandate isn't the route most of us on the left would have taken toward universal health coverage. But it's the route settled on by pragmatic, moderate political leaders like Barack Obama. And Mitt Romney.