In what was an otherwise slow 4th of July news day, Mitt Romney’s declaration that the core element of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate—is in fact a tax did provide some political fireworks. Romney’s comments came just two days after his chief campaign spokesman said the governor believed the mandate should be called a penalty rather than a tax.While the process was messy, Romney seems to have come to the right place. If the Supreme Court says it’s a tax, and it would be unconstitutional if it wasn’t a tax, then it must be a tax. The administration and the congress may have chosen to call it something else for political purposes, but that’s not the point. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says politicians have to be truthful, but the Court has to look at the actual meaning of the laws as they are passed to define what they do (as opposed to what they say they do) and then decide whether the law is consistent with the government’s constitutional powers.That the administration and congress lied (or, more charitably, were clueless) about the most important law in the last generation will likely fuel the fires on the right. And that’s especially true because it seems certain to me at least that if this thing had been called a tax increase, it would never have passed.An unpopular bill passed by sleight of hand is a bad thing to defend; if Governor Romney and the Republicans can present the issue from that angle, the health care law may prove an albatross around the neck of the Democratic Party through November.To make that work, Governor Romney will have to scrape the Massachusetts health care law off his shoes one way or another; to do that, his campaign needs to start presenting a consistent and clear position on the health care law from here on out.