Jail time for not buying coverage?

posted at 9:11 am on November 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi tried out her “we won the election” argument on freshman Democrats in Congressional districts carried by John McCain in 2008?  If so, she’s already lost half of them, according to USA Today.  Seven of the twelve freshman from conservative districts have announced their opposition to the Pelosi version of ObamaCare, scheduled for a vote this weekend:

There are a dozen first-term Democrats representing districts that Republican presidential nominee John McCain won last year. So far, six have announced that they will vote against their party’s health care bill.

Update, 5:43 p.m. ET: Now there are seven. The New York Daily News has just published a statement from hometown Rep. Michael McMahon, D-N.Y. He’s in the no column. “I believe the net negatives of this bill outweight the positive effects,” McMahon says.

Five of those announcements came today. All of the lawmakers who announced opposition cited concerns about the price tag of the legislation, estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to be more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

“After months of thoroughly reviewing legislative proposals and speaking with constituents and stakeholders, I am not satisfied that this bill before us is a sustainable solution,” said Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Md. Alert readers will remember that he was the congressman hung in effigy during the height of the August town hall meeting uproar.

But … but … but … those were just astroturfers! They’re not representative of the constituents, who really want government to take away their choices and lock them up for failing to buy their patriotic health-care coverage:

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail.  The JCT letter  makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

In response to the JCT letter, Camp said:  “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing – buy what we tell you or go to jail.  It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.”

The radical nature of the bill has finally become clear.  The Democrats most at risk have begun peeling away, abortion vote or no abortion vote.  They have to win re-election in less than a year, and this will be Exhibit A for their Republican challengers looking to paint them as big-spending statists more interested in bullying their constituents than listening to them.

Don’t be surprised to see more Democrats start to jump overboard this weekend.  Steny Hoyer didn’t think he had the votes yesterday, and the longer this goes, the fewer he will wind up having.


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