So the WH is really going to run with this “It’s not a tax!” thing, huh?

posted at 4:01 pm on June 29, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

That is, as far as they run with it at all. As Ed explained earlier, I can’t help feeling that, despite the technical ObamaCare victory, they’re not looking to gloat over it — I think they’d be all too content to just quit talking about it and shuffle everybody along.

During President Obama’s response to the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday, the term “tax” was conspicuously absent. But to the extent that they have to talk about it, it looks like they’re really going to keep insisting that this is absotively, posolutely not a tax, even though — oh, you know — that’s pretty much the entire basis upon which the individual mandate was upheld. Ain’t no thang.

“It’s a penalty, because you have a choice. You don’t have a choice to pay your taxes, right?” [Jay] Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.  …

Roberts wrote that the law “makes going without insurance just another thing the government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning an income.” …

“You can call it what you want,” Carney said, underlining Congressional Budget Office estimates that whatever you call it will affect only 1 percent of Americans. “It is not a broad-based tax.” “One percent of the population. One percent. You can call it what you want, but it is affecting 1 percent of the population. Because most people either have health insurance or people do the responsible thing and if they can afford health insurance they will purchase it,” the spokesman said.

Quite the rhetorical tap dance, isn’t it? Of course, what choice do they have — President Obama swore up and down the backside that this wasn’t a tax in any shape, manner, or form when he was trying to pass it, even though it’s shaping up to be a both huge and regressive tax to the tune of more than $500 billion in a decade.

But, if they had to win the ObamaCare judicial battle, I’m glad they at least won in one of the more headache-inducing, deception-exposing ways possible. Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein imagines a scenario that would really get the White House squirming: If he were a Republican congressman…

I’d schedule a new vote in the House on the individual mandate, but replace the “penalty language” with language specifically acknowledging that the “penalty” is actually a tax. If the Democrats vote “aye,” they’ve acknowledged breaking the Obama pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. If the Democrats–specifically those who already voted for the mandate–vote “nay”, what becomes of the tax argument in future litigation? … At least it would look very peculiar that the Court upheld the law on a theory that Congressional supporters of the law refuse to adopt. …


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