The following article is a collaborative effort between PolicyMic columnists Jesse Merkel and John Giokaris
By now, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama both have been called flip-floppers so much that the term is beginning to lose its meaning. Romney was recently hit when his chief advisers said that the Obamacare tax was indeed a penalty. Romney came out the next day and contradicted his advisor, saying that it has been ruled a tax, so it is a tax.
The president on Friday also went on to claim that Romney has abandoned something that he fought hard for in his own home state, and that one cannot just switch positions ‘on a dime’ to suit his political needs. Let’s review, shall we?
President Obama campaigned in 2009 that his health care law’s tax was not a tax. Of course, he then said in 2010 that his administration would defend it as a tax. And how could we forget during the Supreme Courts hearings on Obamacare how Solicitor General Don Verrilli said it was a tax, and that it was not a tax.
Recently, President Obama went ahead and executive ordered a halt to deportations for younger illegal immigrants that were brought here as children, despite the fact that he has claimed only one year prior that he could not do it legally, and would not try to. But now it’s an election year and he needs votes. All of a sudden, “it’s the right thing to do.”
A few weeks before that Obama ‘came out’ (pardon the pun) in support of gay marriage. This happened the day after North Carolina voted overwhelmingly in favor of an amendment to their state constitution to define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman, and a day before his big Hollywood $40,000-a-plate fundraiser with George Clooney. It’s worth mentioning that the Democratic convention well be held later this year in August in North Carolina. Of course, we’re sure his change of heart the day after such a measure was passed doesn’t count as changing ones positions on a dime. When he does it, it’s “evolution.”
Up until that day, President Obama had been solidly against gay marriage. Well, sort of. He was actually for it in 1996, right up until he unsuccessfully ran for congress in 2000.
In fact, we he first ran for president in 2008, he also said he’d shut down the Gunatanamo Bay detention center, cut the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term, reduce earmarks to 1994 levels, scale back lobbyist influence in his administration, and allow the American public opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days on any Congressional bill before signing it. So much for all that.
Romney did campaign for a mandate in Romneycare while he was Governor of Massachusetts. Yes he did say that people could follow Massachusetts' lead if they wished. However, for the past three years, Romney has been beating up Obamacare with the best of them, saying it went too far and calling for a full repeal and replacement with measures designed to reduce costs.
Actually, one can even argue that Romney hasn’t flip-flopped at all. What Romney has been saying all along is that at the state level, states have the power to put in place mandates. They don't need to require them to be called taxes in order for them to be constitutional, a fact that was backed up by the Supreme Court's majority opinion on Obamacare.
Romney is right. As governor he had the power that the president doesn't have to impose an individual mandate. That's why when the provision was challenged at the state level that the law was upheld rather easily. No judge had to go searching for a reason to support the individual mandate under taxing powers or anything else; it was upheld under the governor's broad “police powers.” And the United States Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the only way Obamacare can be upheld as constitutional on the federal level is by classifying it as a tax under tax enforcement procedures, not under the commerce clause.
In the mid-nineties, when Obama was for gay marriage, Romney was campaigning against socialized medicine during his debates with Senator Ted Kennedy. Now, both are back to those positions.
Many people have run for the same office more than once. Typically, if they lose the first time, they hone their message, and come up with something different. Ronald Reagan’s message during his 1976 campaign paled in comparison to the one that he ran on in 1980. He wasn’t accused of flip-flopping. He did his homework for a few years, came back and showed what he had learned. Other examples of this include former President Bill Clinton, who after losing his first bid for reelection as Governor of Arkansas came back a few years later with an entirely different approach that allowed him to sail to victory.
Whether or not it’s “evolution” or “flip-flopping” apparently depends on whom you ask and on which side of the aisle the politician in question is on.