Obama administration: Health-care mandates are taxes after all

Recall, if you will, that Barack Obama scolded George Stephanopoulos nine months ago for consulting a dictionary to call the health-care mandate a tax.  It became one of the more popular Obamateurisms of 2009, but served as an unequivocal statement that the Obama administration would not defend the health-insurance mandate as a tax in order to get a court to approve of it.  Obama even sounded offended by the suggestion:

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 than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase.

People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy…

OBAMA: No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase. Any…


OBAMA: What — what — if I — if I say that right now your premiums are going to be going up by 5 or 8 or 10 percent next year and you say well, that’s not a tax increase; but, on the other hand, if I say that I don’t want to have to pay for you not carrying coverage even after I give you tax credits that make it affordable, then…

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.

My, how times have changed … now that Obama has signed the bill into law (via The Blog Prof):

In order to protect the new national health care law from legal challenges, the Obama administration has been forced to argue that the individual mandate represents a tax — even though Obama himself argued the exact opposite while campaigning to pass the legislation.

Late last night, the Obama Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the Florida-based lawsuit against the health care law, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction and that the State of Florida and fellow plaintiffs haven’t presented a claim for which the court can grant relief. To bolster its case, the DOJ cited the Anti-Injunction Act, which restricts courts from interfering with the government’s ability to collect taxes.

The Act, according to a DOJ memo supporting the motion to dismiss, says that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.” The memo goes on to say that it makes no difference whether the disputed payment it is called a “tax” or “penalty,” because either way, it’s “assessed and collected in the same manner” by the Internal Revenue Service.

Suddenly, the health-insurance mandate is a tax.  I guess someone must have given Obama a Merriam-Webster dictionary as a gift.

This means that Obama has broken two pledges.  First, Obama insisted that he would not attempt to use the tax argument to get approval from the courts.  Second, Obama just signed the largest middle-class tax increase in years, if not ever, by mandating not just the purchase of insurance but of specific kinds of insurance.  Some estimates show that over 51% of all Americans will have to change their plans in order to meet the new requirements, and that’s not to pay less, either.  Not only that, but the Obama administration is prepared to make the argument that it passed a massive tax increase in court.

Open up the dictionary, Mr. President, and find the word hypocrite.  See a familiar face next to it?