We all knew it was coming and now here it is. Those hoping this would achieve the giddy insanity of an O’R/Geraldo screamfest will be disappointed, but it has its moments. The biggest surprise: Coburn didn’t do his homework. He had to know that O’Reilly would challenge him to name an instance when someone on Fox claimed that refusing to buy insurance under O-Care would mean jail time. You missed a lay-up, TC! October 7, 2009:
REP. JOHN SHADEGG, R – ARIZ.: Well, the problem is that in August (INAUDIBLE) a bill that might fine us, and now we’ve discovered that the bill has criminal penalties.
VAN SUSTEREN: How’s — I mean, like, in what way? I mean, if I don’t do something under the bill, I could get charged criminally?
SHADEGG: What the bill says is that this is a tax. If you don’t buy health insurance and you don’t by government-approved health insurance, then they will impose a tax on you and they told you how much the tax was. But unfortunately, the code says that if you don’t pay the tax, that’s a misdemeanor, and we can fine you more, in this case, an additional $25,000. And on top of that, we can put you in jail for up to a year.
So the bill that we’re all upset about in August because we thought it had some fines it if people didn’t buy the government-approved health insurance, we now discover has an additional $25,000 in fines and jail time.
That’s from an interview segment titled, er, “Health Insurance or Jail?” In Greta’s defense, it’s not like the possibility of prison was some far-out conspiracy theory: Obama and Pelosi were both asked about it months ago, when the bill was still taking shape, and both conspicuously declined to say “no way.” Damned wingnut propagandists!
Update (4/14): Congressman Shadegg has released this statement accusing me of implying that he was wrong about jail time for ObamaCare. I didn’t think that I had implied any such thing. I explicitly said that it was an issue “when the bill was still taking shape” and that Pelosi and Obama had both refused to rule out jail time when pressed on it. But here’s Shadegg’s statement.
For the record, Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) claim that it was irresponsible for the Fox News Channel to say or suggest that, under the Democrats’ health care reform bill, people who refused to buy government approved health insurance could be jailed, was flat wrong. In fact, under both the original House and Senate bills jail time was possible. Senator Coburn should have checked his facts.
Under the bill which passed the House a penalty of up to a year in jail could have been imposed. And a similar provision remained in the Senate bill and was not removed until media attention was focused on this outrageous provision by the Fox News Channel and others. (See H.R. 3962, Sec. 501 at p. 303; Finance Committee Markup of America’s Healthy Future Act, Section 1301 at p. 50; 26 USC. Sec 7201; 26 USC Section 7203).
Yesterday, a blog was posted by Allahpundit on Hot Air that included an excerpt from my October 7, 2009 interview with Greta Van Susteren on the Fox News Channel discussing health care. During the segment, I raised the point that Americans could face criminal penalties for failing to meet Congress’s new mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. Here’s my exact quote:
“…If you don’t buy health insurance and you don’t by government-approved health insurance, then they will impose a tax on you and they told you how much the tax was. But unfortunately, the code says that if you don’t pay the tax, that’s a misdemeanor, and we can fine you more, in this case, an additional $25,000. And on top of that, we can put you in jail for up to a year.”
In the blog on Hot Air, Allahpundit implied that I was wrong and that my statement was inaccurate. In fact, my statement was correct. (See H.R. 3962, Sec. 501 at p. 303; Finance Committee Markup of America’s Healthy Future Act, Section 1301 at p. 50; 26 USC. Sec 7201; 26 USC Section 7203).
That criminal penalties including jail time were could be imposed for violation of law was also confirmed on September 25, 2009, by the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation’s Chief of Staff Tom Barthold: “violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty under the Senate proposal.” See letter from Tom Barthold to Sen. Ensign dated September 24, 2009.
In addition, on November 5, 2009, the Joint Tax Committee, in a letter to Congressman Dave Camp, confirmed that individuals could even face a felony under the House health care bill – “punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” The version of the Democrats’ health care bill that passed the House on November 7, 2009 included this jail provision.
We often hear Members of Congress openly admit that they didn’t know what was in the Democrats’ 2000+ page health care bill before it came to the floor for a vote. However, for those of us who read the bills carefully, I can tell you that the town hall attendee was absolutely right to be concerned about the threat of jail time. In fact the potential for jail time was in both bills and was only removed from the bill enacted into law by the media attention focused on this outrageous provision by the Fox News Channel, myself and others.