“I don’t see this as a tax. I think it is personal responsibility for all of us to make sure that we take care of ourselves to the extent we can. To the extent we can’t, we need to get some assistance from people,” said House Majority leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, when I asked him on Tuesday about the Obama administration’s recent admission that the individual mandate is indeed a tax.
According to a New York Times piece last week:
Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.
Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.
In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Mr. Obama was adamant during the debate over the health care bill that the individual mandate was not a tax, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in 2009:
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…
Interestingly, Mr. Hoyer used the similar auto insurance example in his explanation as to why he still says the individual mandate is not a tax.
“There’s a responsibility to us to make sure that I’m not a burden on you and you’re not a burden on me and, collectively together, we participate in making sure we have health care available to all of us,” the House Majority Leader said.
Yet back in October of 2009, CNS News reported:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the individual health insurance mandates included in every health reform bill, which require Americans to have insurance, were “like paying taxes.” He added that Congress has “broad authority” to force Americans to purchase other things as well, so long as it was trying to promote “the general welfare.”
President Madison is likely rolling over in his grave each time liberals twist around the “general welfare” clause as justification to tax Americans. Though, one must ask why Mr. Hoyer is hiding from what the White House has now admitted and most Americans already knew to begin with? Leader Hoyer has previously indicated he thinks extending middle-class tax cuts will not be possible. Democrats want the death tax to resurface in 2011, and they are pushing for another tax through a cap and trade energy bill. Maybe Mr. Hoyer does not realize this, but the cat was let out of the bag a long time ago.