Has President Obama’s new heath care bill morphed from a mandate to a tax on middle class Americans? During his electoral campaign President Obama promised that his government would not impose any tax increases on already burdened middle class citizens. During the debates that have led up to the presentation of the infamous health care reform legislation in question President Obama and his Democrats have argued fervently for the distinction between a mandate and a tax to be preserved.
The argument put forward for the justification of the penalty is reasonable enough. The health care reform proposes to inflict a penalty on persons who refuse to pay for heath insurance, even after they have been proven to qualify and have been awarded with tax credits to make the health care premiums more affordable. These people have essentially decided to take their chances and opted not to pay for health insurance despite the Government’s attempts to make health care universally affordable.
The Democratic stance on the matter is that those who under these circumstances still refuse to buy health insurance will then be hit with a fine. It is this fine that has formed a major bone of contention with the Republican camp. The Republicans maintain that the Government should not be allowed to use its power to determine how a citizen should spend private income, which this mandate essentially does.
The definition of this fine as either a penalty or a tax has come under scrutiny because of an argument used by the Obama camp in defense of its right to implement the fine. The Democrats quote the State’s power to levy and collect taxes to garner legal support from lawmakers who are going through the process of writing the details into legislation. This has raised a hornet’s nest from detractors because it has cast a shadow over the integrity of all those involved.
The President has been continuously quoted stating that the mandate was a penalty and not a tax and therefore he has refused to accept any notion that he has misled the public on the intent of the bill.
The Department of Justice has also said that this mandate is tantamount to a tax and no fiddling with definitions or explanations can really change that fact. Simply put, the “penalty” is expected to raise close to $4 billion in revenue by the year 2017 and this revenue will be monitored and collected by the IRS. The penalty must also be noted on income tax forms as an increase in liability so it basically fits the definition of a tax.
To be fair, although the penalty does fit the definition of a tax one can hardly argue with the logic that supports this fine. It is a well documented fact that those who refuse to pay for health insurance increase the burden on the public health care system and essentially affect the level of service meted out to everyone. They are a cost to be carried.
The question here is simply “does the end justify the means?”