On ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday the President repeatedly insisted that requiring Americans to buy government-approved health care does not constitute a tax increase, yet that is exactly what it says in the 1,018-page House bill. What’s more, the idea that an individual mandate is a tax on working families has been confirmed in earlier writings by senior Obama Administration officials. All told, H.R. 3200 contains roughly $820 billion in tax increases, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

RHETORIC

President Obama: “For us to say you have to take responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.” (ABC’s This Week, 9/20/09)

“STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.” (ABC’s This Week, 9/20/09)

REALITY

From p. 169 of H.R. 3200, as amended:

“SEC. 59B. TAX ON INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT ACCEPTABLE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE. (a) TAX IMPOSED.—In the case of any individual who does not meet the requirements of subsection (d) at any time during the taxable year, there is hereby imposed a tax equal to 2.5 percent of the excess of — (1) the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income for the taxable year, or (2) the amount of gross income specified in section 6012(a)(1) with respect to the taxpayer.”

RHETORIC
President Obama: “Nobody considers that a tax increase.” (ABC’s This Week, 9/20/09)

REALITY

Sherry Glied, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services: “The individual mandate offers new options, but it also introduces risks. The mandate is in many respects analogous to a tax. …[T]he mandate will act as a very regressive tax, penalizing uninsured people who genuinely cannot afford to buy coverage.” (New England Journal of Medicine, 4/10/08)

Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council: “Economists have generally devoted little attention to mandated benefits – regarding them as simply disguised tax and expenditure measures.” (American Economic Review, May 1989)

Then-Sen. Barack Obama: “In order for you to force people to get health insurance, you’ve got to have a very harsh penalty.” (Democratic presidential debate, 2/21/08)

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