Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused President Obama of breaking his pledge not to raise taxes on middle-income families by instituting a health care mandate on a conference call for Mitt Romney’s campaign Thursday.
Jindal cited a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that about 6 million Americans are expected not to purchase health insurance under the law’s mandate provision in 2014, and thus will have to pay a penalty.
“Obamacare is a bad law,” he told reporters on a conference call. “This new report only confirms what we’ve already known about this law.”
Jindal accurately noted that Obama attacked Hillary Clinton in their 2008 primary contest for proposing a mandate, only to end up implementing one himself as part of the Affordable Care Act.
“President Obama was against the federal mandate before he was for it,” he said.
The Romney campaign’s new line of attack opens up some awkward issues for the Republican nominee, however.
For one thing, Romney himself implemented a law in Massachusetts that included a mandate to purchase insurance, meaning that if Obama is guilty of raising taxes — and the White House denies that the penalty counts as a tax — than Romney is too. This led to tension between Romney and other Republicans in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that ruled Obama’s mandate constitutional as a tax.
For another, Romney at times endorsed not only state mandates, but Senate bills that would implement a federal mandate as well, before renouncing the concept entirely.
Jindal took a question from a reporter on whether the GOP might face some backlash over its nominee’s ties to a mandate, especially after Romney joked on Wednesday that he took it as a “compliment” that Obama referred to him as “the grandfather of Obamacare.”
“None at all,” Jindal said. “He has consistently said that what works in one state may not necessarily be right for other states. He has consistently been against the national mandate, an individual mandate, from the very beginning.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.