<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Josh Barro</p> <p>Mitt Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said that his boss views Obamacare’s individual mandate as a penalty, not a tax. This has the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll <a href="http://washingtonexaminer.com/morning-examiner-romneys-obamacare-decision-response-is-unsustainable/article/2501230">up in arms</a>. Romney is off-message if he says the mandate is not a tax!</p> <blockquote><p>This directly contradicts the message of every Republican that will be running down ballot from Romney this fall. This is not a minor problem.</p></blockquote> <p>Wait a minute. Let’s say Romney does what many congressional Republicans have <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/29/politics/gop-health-care/index.html">done with enthusiasm</a>, and declares that the mandate is a tax. Isn’t that an endorsement of John Roberts’s hated opinion that upheld Obamacare on the grounds that the mandate is a tax?</p> <p>I think the mandate <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-02/why-obama-should-embrace-the-obamacare-tax.html">is a tax</a> and that Romney is wrong (and so is Obama, on the days when he insists the mandate isn’t a tax.) But then, I think the individual mandate is constitutional. If Republicans have a message coordination problem, it’s not on Romney’s end. It’s with Republicans who are accidentally endorsing the logic behind the judicial opinion they hate.</p> <p>(Josh Barro is lead writer for the Ticker. <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/jbarro">Follow</a> him on Twitter.)</p> <p>Read more breaking commentary from Josh Barro and other Bloomberg View columnists and editors at <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/view/the-ticker/">the Ticker</a>.</p> <p> </p> </body> </html>