Is health care ruling Obama's 'Read my lips: No new taxes' moment?
Republicans are beating up on President Obama because the Supreme Court said the Affordable Care Act is tied to new taxes. But that could be a problem for Mitt Romney given his record in Massachusetts.
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“This is a penalty. It’s something that only 1 percent of people who can afford insurance and choose not to get it will pay,” White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Everyone who has insurance, everyone who chooses to buy insurance will not pay it. What they’re going to get is security – they’re going to get lower premiums and better health care. That’s a good thing for the American people.”Skip to next paragraph
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Speaking on NBC's "Meet The Press," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accurately parsed the Supreme Court’s ruling this way: “It's a penalty that comes under the tax code.” But she stumbled a bit in doing so, points out Josh Gerstein at Politico.com. "It's a ta – it’s a penalty for free riders," Pelosi said, nearly uttering the dreaded T-word before cutting herself off.
(Interesting historical note unearthed by Jonathan Alter writing on Newsweek’s Daily Beast web site: Back in 1935, while the conservative Supreme Court was taking on much of FDR’s “New Deal,” it let stand Social Security because of the federal government’s taxing power.)
There’s just one teensy problem in all of this for Republicans and their presumptive presidential nominee, the man whose chief legislative achievement as governor of Massachusetts was a state health care insurance program that remains popular with most people there and was used as a model for Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“[W]e established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance,” Mitt Romney wrote in a 2009 USA Today column. “Using tax penalties, as we did … encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.”
That's "tax penalties," otherwise known as "taxes."