Republicans swarmed the airwaves this weekend seeking to brand President Obama’s healthcare law as a tax increase, but some found that messaging to be tricky when it came to Mitt Romney, their de facto presidential nominee.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, appeared on Fox News on Sunday, stating “the president said it was not a tax and the Supreme Court, which has the final say, said it is a tax.”
Host Chris Wallace pointed out that Romney, while governor of Massachusetts, championed a healthcare law that also relied on an individual mandate.
“If the Obama mandate is a tax on the middle class, isn’t the Romney mandate a tax on the middle class?” Wallace asked.
“I think Gov. Romney will have to speak for himself on what was done in Massachusetts,” McConnell replied.
The punt by McConnell underscored the “sticky position” for Romney and Republicans in their healthcare messaging, as noted by The Times’ Seema Mehta last week. Romney has avoided much mention of his state plan, both on the campaign trail and in his remarks immediately following the Supreme Court decision.
McConnell, instead, focused on repealing the current national law.
“The single best thing we could do for the healthcare system is get rid of “Obamacare.” ... In other words, the single biggest step we can take in the direction of improving American healthcare is to get rid of the monstrosity,’ McConnell said.
Wallace pressed McConnell on how Republicans would provide coverage to the millions of people who are uninsured.
“That is not the issue,” McConnell said. “The question is how you can go step by step to improve the American healthcare system. It is already the finest healthcare system in the world.”
“But you don’t think that 30-million uninsured is an issue?” Wallace asked.
McConnell responded that Republicans were not going to turn the American healthcare system into a “Western European system. That’s exactly what’s at the heart of Obamacare.”