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Morning Bell: It Depends On What Your Definition Of "Tax" Is

Posted By Conn Carroll On September 22, 2009 @ 8:41 am In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

Throughout his presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama promised [1] the American people: “If you’re a family that’s making $250,000 a year or less, you will see no increase in your taxes.” As President, Barack Obama reiterated that pledge, promising the American people in his September 9th health care press conference [2]: “The middle-class will realize greater security, not higher taxes.” But as ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos pointed out [3] to the President this weekend, Obama will break his promise to the American people if he signs a health care bill that includes an individual or employer mandate.

In an exchange that can only be described as “Clintonesque” Stephanopoulos was forced to read the definition of “tax” [4] straight from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary [5], but even then Obama refused to acknowledge reality: “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. … Nobody considers that a tax increase.” Really? Nobody?

Has President Barack Obama met his White House’s National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers who wrote in 1989 [6]:

Essentially, mandated benefits are like public programs financed by benefit taxes… [If] the mandated benefit is worthless to employees, it is just like a tax from the point of view of both employers and employees

Or what about President Obama HHS nominee Dr. Sherry Glied who wrote in 2008 [7]:

The mandate is in many respects analogous to a tax. It requires people to make payments for something whether they want it or not. One important concern is that the government will provide insufficient funds for the subsidies intended to accompany the mandate. In that case, the mandate will act as a very regressive tax, penalizing uninsured people who genuinely cannot afford to buy coverage.

Or what about the Congressional Budget Office who wrote this year [8]:

Under some proposals, firms would be required to make payments to the federal government if they chose not to offer health insurance to their employees, and individuals who did not comply with the requirement to obtain insurance would have to pay a penalty. Such payments would be equivalent to a tax or a fine, and the government’s receipts should be recorded in the budget as federal revenues.

But one need not consult dictionaries, the CBO, or health care experts to find people that call individual and employer mandates taxes. The very legislation Obama is trying to say is not a tax, calls itself a tax! Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) health care bill calls the proposed fines [9] an “excise tax” [9]. The House bill [10] calls the same penalties [10] a “tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage.” And the Associate Press [11] reports: “If you put something in the Internal Revenue Code, and you tell the IRS to collect it, I think that’s a tax,” said Clint Stretch, head of the tax policy group for Deloitte, a major accounting firm. “If you don’t pay, the person who’s going to come and get it is going to be from the IRS.”

Obama’s allies are already retreating. The Washington Post [12] reports: “Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Max Baucus began reworking his health-care overhaul to ease the financial burden on middle-class Americans who would be required for the first time to have health insurance.” The Post continues: “All of his changes, though, would add billions to the cost of a bill whose chief accomplishment was its relative austerity.” Thus all of Baucus’ changes will only help break another Obama promise: “Here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period.” But don’t worry; Obama may come up with a new definition of “deficits” too.

Quick Hits:

  • President Obama may change course again [13] in Afghanistan, steering away from the comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy he laid out this spring and toward a narrower focus on counter terror operations.
  • New York City students who win a lottery to enroll in charter schools outperform [14] those who don’t win spots and go on to attend traditional schools, according to new research to be released Tuesday.
  • The number of foreign-born residents of the U.S. declined [15] for the first time since at least 1970, as declines in construction jobs lured fewer immigrants from their home countries, especially those from Mexico, according to the Census Bureau.
  • The Justice Department’s inspector general announced Monday that he plans a review into whether the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) [16] ever applied for or received grant funds from Justice — and, if so, whether Justice has ever reviewed how such funds were spent.
  • Hassan Nemazee, a fund-raiser for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, [17] has been indicted for defrauding Bank of America, HSBC and Citigroup Inc out of more than $290 million in loan proceeds.

Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/09/22/morning-bell-it-depends-on-what-your-definition-of-tax-is/

URLs in this post:

[1] promised: http://www.wjfw.com/stories.html?sku=20080612145010

[2] September 9th health care press conference: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/us/politics/10obama.text.html?pagewanted=print

[3] pointed out: http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=8618937

[4] “tax”: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tax

[5] Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/

[6] wrote in 1989: http://www3.amherst.edu/%7Ejwreyes/econ77reading/Summers

[7] wrote in 2008: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/15/1540

[8] wrote this year: http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/102xx/doc10243/05-27-HealthInsuranceProposals.pdf

[9] the proposed fines: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/11382446/Baucus-Health-Care-Bill---Full-Text

[10] House bill: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text

[11] Associate Press: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090921/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_insurance_tax_fact_check

[12] The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/21/AR2009092102288.html

[13] change course again: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-09-22-obama-afghanistan_N.htm

[14] charter schools outperform: http://blog.heritage.org http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125358513141729871.html#mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLTopStories

[15] number of foreign-born residents of the U.S. declined: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125356996157829123.html#mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLTopStories

[16] (ACORN): http://blog.heritage.org http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/21/AR2009092102564.html

[17] a fund-raiser for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats,: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE58K5A420090921?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=22&sp=true

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