Is it a tax? Or is it a penalty?
By Louis Jacobson
Published on Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 6:50 p.m.
In the days following the Supreme Court’s decision on President Barack Obama’s health care law, supporters and critics of the law sparred over the question of whether or not the individual mandate was a tax.
Critics of the law highlighted Obama’s shifting views of whether the mandate was a tax or a penalty (an issue we fact-checked here). On the other hand, supporters noted that if the individual mandate was actually a tax, then Mitt Romney himself had also imposed a tax when he signed a health care law as governor of Massachusetts.
Initially, a senior aide to the Mitt Romney campaign, Eric Fehrnstrom, told MSNBC that Romney "has consistently described the mandate in Massachusetts as a penalty" -- a position at odds with many other Republicans in the wake of the ruling.
But then, Romney changed course in a July 4, 2012, interview with CBS News.
"Well, the Supreme Court has the final word," Romney said. "And their final word is that Obamacare is a tax. So it's a tax."
We fact-checked Romney's statement by talking to more than a dozen legal experts. Read their comments and see why we rated this statement Mostly True.
See fact-check for complete sources.
Researchers: Louis Jacobson
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact :
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag