So I go to Panera Bread (a great example of how a well-designed national chain can serve localist ends) yesterday and was confronted by several Floyd County members or fellow travelers of the Tea Party.
"What do you think of Roberts' opinion?" they ask me. I begin by commenting that it is intellectually dishonest. "Wrong!" they respond almost in unison. (Wrong again, I think.) "He called a spade a spade. It IS a tax!"
The spirit of the original Tea Party is emerging. It's not quite no taxation without representation. It's no hidden taxing by lying scum liberal representatives. Let's continue Roberts' good work by outing ALL the hidden taxes for what they are!
So could "It IS a tax!" really become an energizing campaign slogan?
Consider that the huge Medicaid expansion is, in effect, a huge tax on the states. The fiscally sinking states would have to, of course, pass that tax on to individuals.
The Tea Party could add to its campaign the effort to get all fifty states to opt out of the expansion—a right Roberts and the Court granted to the states. A lot of success along those lines would probably wreck ObamaCare.
A problem, though: Romney's argument (the argument of the Court's dissenters) is that the Commerce Clause's limitation on the power of Congress makes the national mandate unconstitutional, but state mandates are constitutional. He appeals to federalism to justify his RomneyCare but not ObamaCare.
RomneyCare's mandate, however, is just as much a tax as ObamaCare. Federalism recedes, to say the least, as an issue. So the "It IS a tax (stupid)!" slogan is not so good as Romney's battle cry.
That's why Romney is knocking himself out to make it clear that it's not a tax.