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Romney: It's a bird; it's a plane; it's a tax

Now it’s a tax? “Mitt Romney Wednesday reversed the position staked out by his own campaign just two days before and said the penalty levied against Americans who do not buy health insurance under President Obama’s health care overhaul is ‘a tax,’” the Boston Globe writes. Romney told CBS: “The majority of the court said it is a tax, therefore it is a tax. The majority has spoken. There is no way around that.”

And get this… “During a parade in Wolfeboro, NH, Romney was told by someone in the crowd that the health care penalty was a tax. ‘I agree,’ Romney replied.”

Newsweek/Daily Beast’s Tomasky: “After some tap dancing, Mitt Romney now says the individual mandate is a tax. Democrats should call his bluff and agree—it'll hurt Mitt far more than Obama.”

GOP 12: “Hogan Gidley, a former adviser for Rick Santorum's erstwhile presidential bid, tells Talking Points Memo that his boss tried to warn voters about Mitt Romney's difficulty with prosecuting the case against ObamaCare.” He said, “It’s a problem, I’m not going to lie.... Here we are a couple months into the general and you’re going, ‘Hey wait a minute, that Rick Santorum was right'."

CBN’s David Brody: “It makes you wonder if Rick Santorum was on to something when he said it would be a mistake to nominate Romney because it makes arguing the healthcare issue extremely difficult. You think President Obama will be ready with a few good one-liners for the fall debates? You betcha.”

Romney’s attempts to “clarify” or wiggle out of his position on the mandate reminds that back in October, George Will called Romney “the pretzel candidate.” Will hit him for “twists” on ethanol, TARP, and collective bargaining. Will wrote, “A straddle is not a political philosophy; it is what you do when you do not have one.” And he called him “a recidivist reviser of his principles.” Will concluded: “Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?”

Bermuda Shorts: AP: “For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose. Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney's state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning - suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign. The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney's ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money. But Romney's limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed, according to experts in private equity, tax and campaign finance law.”

The Obama campaign, in pushing the story, said it “raises serious questions about whether Mitt Romney established a Bermuda corporation to avoid U.S. taxes and attempted to hide it from the public.” And it put out a web video entitled, “Do you have an offshore bank account?”

“President Obama’s re-election campaign pounced on recent reports about Mitt Romney’s offshore holdings as new details emerged about a Bermuda-based company that was omitted from multiple financial disclosure reports,” the New York Daily News writes.

And it dings him for his home in New Hampshire: “Mitt Romney’s week-long vacation at his opulent lakehouse has reinforced the common line of attack that he’s out of touch with the common voter — a controversy President Obama may be trying to avoid. … Yet whether he’s on a jet ski or not, Romney’s wealth — estimated at more than $250 million — made more uncomfortable headlines for him on Tuesday. The fortune, mostly made at Bain Capital, is largely held in a complex and opaque offshore network, including a Swiss bank account and in tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, according to a Vanity Fair report. Also, his campaign must now distance itself from the CEO of Barclays, who stepped down from the British bank Tuesday amid an interest-rate fixing scandal.”

The Romney campaign for its part is hitting Obama for “broken promises.” “With no record to run on, no rationale for re-election, and no positive message – President Obama is on the defensive, trying to win back the support of skeptical voters in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where he has failed to follow through on his promises on health care, unemployment, and spending,” the campaign writes in a morning email.

And it links to several not-so-positive headlines for the president as he makes his way through Ohio:

Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Democrats And Republicans See Challenges For President Barack Obama In Key Mahoning Valley”
Toledo Blade, “Obama Trip Recalls to GOP Biden Visit Four Years Earlier”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sen. Portman Op-Ed: “Obama's Policies Are Stifling The Recovery”
Toledo Blade, “GOP Governors In Maumee Before Obama Visit”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Romney Campaign To Rival Obama Bus Tour Through Ohio With Bobby Jindal And Tim Pawlenty.”

There’s also the Akron Beacon Journal front page: “High jobless rate expected for years.”
And the Cleveland Plain Dealer front page: “Romney’s Mahoning Valley opportunity.”
The Youngstown Vindicator: “Romney campaign to stop in Valley; GOP hopeful wants to stay a step ahead of Obama’s bus tour.”

Of course, on the other hand:

Sandusky Register flag on the background of an American flag and the president’s face: “Welcome, President Obama. Obama visits Sandusky today; public access limited.”
The Toledo Blade (with a smiling Obama): “China to face accusation of unfair trade. Complaint to world body affects Toledo-made SUVs.”
The Ravenna Record-Courier: “Aurora man wins contest, has lunch with Obama.”
The Dayton Daily News front page: “IT job demand brings six-figure salaries.”
Hamilton Journal News: “Demand for IT jobs boosting salaries.”