Those who have even cursory familiarity with the Constitution are aware that the province of raising taxes belongs to Congress. As such, the area of politics where most antitax work gets done is the arena of Congressional races, rather than in the Presidential race – that is, unless you have a case of rank betrayal, as was the case when George H. W. Bush went back on his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge.
Fortunately for Mitt Romney, he isn’t running for Congress. He tried that already. Now he’s the GOP nominee for President, and in the event that he wins, his only province over taxes will be the veto power, which he has already pledged to employ.
Specifically, he signed this.
However, in the event that Romney becomes President, there is a much bigger question he will have to tackle – namely, the appointment of Supreme Court Justices when and if there is a vacancy on the Court. And given that the deciding vote in perhaps the most controversial case of the last decade – the Obamacare case – was cast by a Republican appointee, this duty is a potential minefield, especially considering that the Court‘s ruling declaring Obamacare a tax offers Romney’s party a potent political weapon.
So what’s Romney to do? Jump on the easy “It’s a tax” line of attack, thus signaling that he agrees with the ruling by the Court, in order to score cheap political points, or repudiate the decision in its entirety, thus signaling that as President, he would only appoint ideologically reliable judges? In other words, will Romney take a position based on politics, or based on principle?
Well, in a choice that may surprise some people, Romney is going with principle, at least if the words of his surrogate Eric Fernstrohm are any guide. Fernstrohm recently spoke to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and said straight out that not only does his boss (Romney) not believe that the individual mandate is a tax, but he believes the Court got it wrong and Obamacare is still unconstitutional.