Health Care: Turns Out To Be A Tax After All

If you recall, one of the most steadfast public positions of the Democrats and the Obama White House during the health care debate was that the legislation did not constitute a tax. President Barach Obama expressly denied that the legislation was a tax in pushing for its approval. Now, however, his administration is seeking to defend the law on the basis that it is . . . you guessed it . . . a tax.

The Obama Administration has been repeatedly criticized for saying things to the public and then saying different things in court. Civil libertarians have denounced the Administration for not only fighting to preserve Bush-era doctrines but actually expanding on those doctrines in court in the areas of surveillance, torture, and terrorism.

The Administration is defending the new law as part of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.” It is the strongest possible basis for defending the law (and was used to justify the social security law), but it happens to contradict what both Democratic leaders, including President Obama, told the public.

Just last September, George Stephanopoulos specifically challenged the President on his denial that the legislation was a tax on ABC News program “This Week.” Stephanopoulos observed that the legislation seemed to be clearly a tax by any definition. Obama replied strongly “I absolutely reject that notion.”

Here is the exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax — “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…

OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.

I remain a bit unclear why the President believes that looking up a term in a dictionary must mean “you’re stretching a little bit right now.” Now, of course, you can simply look it up in the Administration’s brief.

While once defined as a “penalty,” the cost of being uninsured is now embraced as a tax that is expected to raise $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

I previously wrote this prior column on the serious federalism concerns raised by the new legislation.

Source: NY Times

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