If you saw a newspaper this morning, you know: Something historic happened yesterday.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was in fact constitutional. It was a victory for everyone who has a pre-existing condition, everyone who's been hit by the rising costs of health care, and everyone who might someday change a job or get sick.
It was a victory for all Americans—and it's time to move on to what President Obama calls the most urgent challenge of our time: "putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead."
But unhappy Republicans are gearing up to refight the health reform battle. They're now saying this is a $500 billion middle-class tax increase.
That's just not true.
What Republicans are calling a "tax" is a really a penalty that people must pay for failing to meet their basic responsibility to buy insurance if they can afford it. This prevents their medical costs from being shifted to the rest of us. And the vast majority of Americans who responsibly carry coverage are completely unaffected by this penalty.
Those Republicans who are trying to score political points off the word "tax" should take note: Romney's individual mandate in Massachusetts works "exactly the same way." As the president of Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a fiscal watchdog group, notes, "If one's a tax, the other's a tax."
And in a 2009 USA Today op-ed, Romney himself wrote, "We established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did…encourages 'free riders' to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others."
When it comes down to it, President Obama has cut taxes by $3,600 for the average middle-class family since taking office—even though Republicans fought him at nearly every step of the way.
The middle class knows which candidate is fighting for them—and it's not the guy who closed factories and stores and shipped their jobs overseas.