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NJ Gov. Chris Christie: Individual Mandate is a Penalty and a Tax

Is the health care law's individual mandate fine a penalty or a tax on Americans who choose not to purchase health insurance?

To New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, it's both.

"There's no question that it's both, it's meant to penalize people and it is a tax, there's no doubt, because they have to pay for a government program," the Republican governor said Tuesday on Fox & Friends.

But Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans have varying views.

The Romney campaign released a statement Monday describing the individual mandate fine as an "unconstitutional penalty," while many other Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are calling it a tax.

The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate last week based on Congress's power to tax.

When asked if he would begin implementing the health care law's insurance exchanges in New Jersey, Christie pointed out that states had the option of running their own exchanges or allowing the federal government to run it.

The governor said he would consider both options and decide what is most cost-effective for New Jersey.

A few Republican governors, including Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida, said after last week's ruling they would not implement insurance exchanges in their states hoping the law would eventually be repealed.

As for all the vice presidential speculation surrounding him, Christie said he would definitely listen if Romney called, but for now he's focused on being New Jersey's governor.