Back in Sept 2009, during one of those rare times George Stephanopoulos actually challenged a Democratic Party position, the ABC commentator argued against the president’s contention that the individual mandate in Obamacare was not a tax increase. Now that the oppressive piece of legislation has been passed, and states are suing the federal government based on the individual mandate, the Obama administration is taking Stephanopoulos’, position arguing that its not a mandate….its a tax increase.
When the President appeared on This Week on Sept 20, 2009 it was a mandate:
“That may be,” Mr. Stephanopoulos responded, “but it’s still a tax increase.” (In fact, uncompensated care accounts for about only 2.2% of national health spending today, but that’s another subject.)
Mr. Obama: “No. That’s not true, George. The—for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore . . .” In other words, like parents talking to their children, this levy—don’t call it a tax—is for your own good.
Mr. Stephanopoulos tried again: “But it may be fair, it may be good public policy—”
Mr. Obama: “No, but—but, George, you—you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase…..”
(the video below mislabels the date as March 20)
Most of the state lawsuits challenging Obamacare argue that mandate forcing Americans to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. The Obama administration is arguing that it is not a mandate, its a tax. According to the NY Times:
In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.
…Under the Constitution, Congress can exercise its taxing power to provide for the “general welfare.” It is for Congress, not courts, to decide which taxes are “conducive to the general welfare,” the Supreme Court said 73 years ago in upholding the Social Security Act.
Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, described the tax power as an alternative source of authority.
“The Commerce Clause supplies sufficient authority for the shared-responsibility requirements in the new health reform law,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “To the extent that there is any question of additional authority — and we don’t believe there is — it would be available through the General Welfare Clause.”
The law describes the levy on the uninsured as a “penalty” rather than a tax. The Justice Department brushes aside the distinction, saying “the statutory label” does not matter. The constitutionality of a tax law depends on “its practical operation,” not the precise form of words used to describe it, the department says, citing a long line of Supreme Court cases.
Moreover, the department says the penalty is a tax because it will raise substantial revenue: $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In addition, the department notes, the penalty is imposed and collected under the Internal Revenue Code, and people must report it on their tax returns “as an addition to income tax liability.”
BUT WAIT!!! Are they saying that the President of the United States would lie about whether the mandate was a penalty to force someone to buy something or whether it was a tax? To quote a former Vice Presidential candidate, “you betcha!”