Murdoch Merciless on Mitt

Rupert Murdoch’s frustration with Mitt has moved from his Twitter account to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ blasts Mitt today in “Romney’s Tax Confusion”:

“If Mitt Romney loses his run for the White House, a turning point will have been his decision Monday to absolve President Obama of raising taxes on the middle class.

“For conservative optimists who think Mr. Fehrnstrom misspoke [when he said the health care mandate was a penalty, not a tax] or is merely dense, his tax absolution gift to Mr. Obama was confirmed by campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul….  In any event, Mr. Fehrnstrom…wouldn’t say such a thing without the candidate’s approval.

“In a stroke, the Romney campaign contradicted Republicans throughout the country who had used the Chief Justice’s opinion to declare accurately that Mr. Obama had raised taxes on the middle class.

“Why make such an unforced error?  Because it fits with Mr. Romney’s fear of being labeled a flip-flopper, as if that is worse than confusing voters about the tax and health care issues.

“Perhaps Mr. Romney is slowly figuring this out, because in a July 4 interview he states himself that the penalty now is a ‘tax’ after all.  But…the campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb.

“The latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign’s insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity.    Mr. Obama is being hurt by an economic recovery that is weakening for the third time in three years.  But Mr. Romney hasn’t been able to take advantage, and if anything he is losing ground.

“But candidates who live by biography [Mitt’s reliance on his Bain background] typically lose by it.  See President John Kerry.

“The biography that voters care about is their own, and they want to know how a candidate is going to improve their future.  That means offering a larger economic narrative and vision than Mr. Romney has so far provided.

“Mr. Romney promised Republicans he was the best man to make the case against President Obama, whom they desperately want to defeat.  So far Mr. Romney is letting them down.”  Emphasis added.

Hey, Rupert, tell us how you really feel!  Although Mitt has four months to turn this around, I don’t see him making the kind of changes either in personnel or policy that he needs.  I see him plodding along in the same out-of-touch, soulless vein and losing.



Mittens Back in GOP Fold

It took him two days, but Mitt today backed off of his spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom’s statement that Obamacare was a penalty, not a tax, which put the Romney campaign at odds with, oh, just everybody else in the GOP.

Campaign spokesmen don’t make statements like that on their own, so Mitt today popped what was clearly a trial balloon, after realizing he couldn’t square this particular circle and had best scurry back into the fold.

It may be the Fourth of July, but Mitt is not about to declare his independence from the GOP machine, which now owns him and probably wishes they could return him.

Too Much Daylight Between GOP and Mitt

David Axelrod on the split between the GOP’s arguing that the Obamacare mandate is a tax and the Romney campaign’s insisting that it’s not:

“So now, as the Republican Party and their SuperPacs try to depict this narrow, freeloader penalty, that would touch less than 1 percent of Americans, as a broad tax on the middle class, they’re sliming their own nominee, as well.”

Mitt Agrees with Obama

The Romney campaign says the Obamacare mandate is a penalty, not a tax.

So how can they run against Obama by screaming about the enormous tax increase on the middle class, which is the new overarching GOP strategy and theme?

Mitt is now aligned with the Prez and off-message with Fox News and his own party.

Roberts has painted Mittens into a corner by choosing the tax argument.

The GOP has painted itself into a corner by choosing  Mittens.

McConnell Leaves Mitt Twisting in the Wind

Senate Minority Leader Mitch (“Turtle”) McConnell emerged from his shell to appear on Fox News Sunday.  Chris Wallace asked him if the mandate in Obamacare is a tax ,why isn’t the mandate in Romneycare also a tax?

McConnell said, “I think Gov. Romney will have to speak for himself on what was done in Massachusetts.”

I would have said that it’s a Zen koan.

The GOP Wrapped in a Pretzel

The GOP/Fox News machine is twisting itself into a pretzel over the “mandate is a tax” part of the Obamacare decision.  They now effectively have their heads up their tushes.

First, they demonize Justice Roberts for calling the thing a tax.  It’s not a tax, he’s wrong, he’s evil, he’s a moron.

But then, in the next breath, they turn around and start campaigning against Obama for imposing this horrible new tax.  It is a tax.  It is, it is!  We are going to call it a tax every minute of every day from now till November.

So eight Supreme Court justices from both the left and the right agree that the mandate was purposefully written as a penalty and is not a tax.  The GOP and Fox say these justices have interpreted the Constitution correctly, but when President Obama says it’s not a tax, he’s no legal scholar, he’s a liar.

You can say it’s not a tax if your name is Antonin Scalia, but not if your name is Barack Hussein Obama.

Does Roberts Think Obamacare Is Constitutional Based on Power to Tax?

Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo thinks Roberts may have revealed his view of the constitutionality of the Obamacare mandate that requires individuals to buy health insurance:

“Chief Justice John Roberts may have tipped his hand that he’s entertaining the possibility that the health care law’s individual mandate can be upheld on a constitutional basis that’s different from the one supporters and opponents have made central to their arguments.

“[O]bservers and experts have assumed that the court’s final decision will hinge on the extent of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.  But the justices could also upend that conventional wisdom, and…Roberts unexpectedly highlighted one way they could do that.

“Roberts suggested he’s skeptical that the mandate and its penalties can be treated separately and may have opened the door to finding that Congress’ power to impose the mandate springs from its broad taxing power.

“‘The idea that the mandate is something separate from whether you want to call it a penalty or tax just doesn’t seem to make much sense,’ Roberts said…. ‘Why would you have a requirement that is completely toothless?’

“That wasn’t what the challengers wanted to hear.  A key feature of their argument is that the individual mandate is distinct from the fine the government will assess on people who fail to purchase insurance.  They say the case isn’t about Congress’ power to tax or penalize people but rather about its power to force people to take actions they may not want to take.  Roberts dismissed this distinction.”

We could end up with a decision that upholds Obamacare with a majority that is split as to its rationale.  Some justices could uphold it under the power to regulate interstate commerce, while others under the power to tax.  They don’t need to agree on why it’s constitutional — they just need five votes saying that it is.