Flout the mandate penalty? Face the IRS
Americans who fail to pay the penalty for not buying insurance would face legal action from the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The remarks Thursday from the committee's chief of staff, Thomas Barthold, seems to further weaken President Barack Obama's contention last week that the individual mandate penalty, which could go as high as $1,900, is not a tax increase.
Under questioning from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Barthold said the IRS would "take you to court and undertake normal collection proceedings."
Ensign pursued the line of questioning because he said a lot of Americans don't believe the Constitution allows the government to mandate the purchase of insurance.
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) received a handwritten note Thursday from Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold confirming the penalty for failing to pay the up to $1,900 fee for not buying health insurance.
Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it "Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold."
What follows is a picture of Barthold's actual note. The original at Politico is here. The content is unchanged; I removed some empty space and adjusted the graphic's properties to make the text more readable (and to have something in case Politico takes the original down):
The postscript in Barthold's note is not in the text of Politico's report. Though it's not particularly legible, it says that "Felony tax evasion provides for restitution and a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual and up to five years in jail."
B-b-b-but Barack Obama told ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that that these fines aren't taxes, and even ridiculed him for looking up the definition of the word in the dictionary (bolds are mine):
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don't. How is that not a tax?
.... 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...
.... STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I don't think I'm making it up. Merriam Webster's Dictionary: Tax -- "a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes."
OBAMA: 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. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what...
.... STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I'm taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.
Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we're going to have an individual mandate or not, but...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it's a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.
Tom Barthold must not have gotten the memo (or is it diktat?).
If you don't think we have a problem of Orwellian proportions with Barack Obama, I'd suggest you re-read the excerpt. He thinks he's above the dictionary, that words mean only what he says they mean.
In case you're wondering, I have found no evidence that the establishment media has noted the Ensign-Barthold development. The only inkling of interest in Google News searches here and here on "Ensign Barthold jail" (not entered with quotes; one link is to the original result, and the other is to the detail of "all 7 news articles" link at the original) is one Atlanta Journal Constitution item. But it turns out that it's an off-topic blog comment and not any kind of reporting.
Meanwhile, the New York Times Prescriptions blog wonders whether or not the fines for not buying health insurance are set high enough.
(Image found at sodahead.com.)
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.