White House: Individual mandate is not a tax
During his daily briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took issue with the Supreme Court for upholding the individual mandate, a central part of ObamaCare, as a “tax” passed under the Taxing Power of Congress:
President Obama’s spokesman denied that the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate is a tax, as he combated the idea that the president has raised taxes on the middle class.
“[I]t is simply a fallacy to say that this is a broad-based tax,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today. “That’s not what the opinion stated that was authored by the Chief Justice. The Affordable Care Act is constitutional under Congress’s taxing authority, but this is clearly a penalty that affects less than one percent of the American population.”
Carney added, “Look, it’s a penalty,” when reporters pressed him about the court’s ruling.
No, it’s a tax. And not just a tax because the Supreme Court says so, it’s so because the Obama Administration argued that it was a tax. That right-wing rag, The New York Times reported in July 2010, nearly four months after ObamaCare was passed, that the the administration was shifting its legal strategy in the case, now arguing that the individual mandate was a tax. And indeed, on page 56 of the Obama Administration’s brief in the case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued (emphasis mine):
[The individual mandate or “minimum coverage provision”] is a proper exercise of Congress’s taxing power, and each reflects Congress’s broad discretion to determine how much tax is owed. In particular, just as deductions, exemptions, and credits operate to reduce an individual taxpayer’s federal income tax liability based on the personal circumstances of the taxpayer, the minimum coverage penalty operates to increase the taxpayer’s total tax liability based on his individual circumstances. In that sense, the minimum coverage provision is valid not only as a tax in itsown right, but also as an adjunct to the income tax, as it merely provides an additional input in calculating the total amount owed on the taxpayer’s income tax return.
Verrilli even argued against a lower court ruling determing that the individual mandate was a penalty, not a tax. He essentially wrote in the brief that courts shouldn’t weigh the definition of words, even though non-compliance with the individual mandate would result in a “penalty,” in Verrilli’s view, ostensibly the view of President Obama, it was still a tax in its truest form.
The question is not whether you believe the Supreme Court or the Obama Administration. It’s whether believe the Obama Administration or the Obama Administration? Legal arguments in which they said it was a tax apparently don’t matter.