On Friday afternoon, Matt Drudge announced in a tweet that "(I) Just paid the Obamacare penalty for not 'getting covered'... I'M CALLING IT A LIBERTY TAX!"
A White House spokesman and the "progressive" press proceeded to thoroughly embarrass itself in its rebuttal attempts. How do I know? Because, four days later, despite the substantial and widely-known uproar, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, doesn't even have a story on the topic; a search at 11:30 p.m. on Monday on Drudge's last name came up empty. If Drudge's detractors had the upper hand, AP would be all over it.
In a March 23 tweet, Drudge pointed out that "IRS form 1040 ES 2014 recommends us quarterly filers estimate and pay Obamacare tax NOW!" That's a reasonable but not definitive interpretation of that form's instructions. I have done a detailed analysis of why that's the case here and here at my home blog.
Greg Gutfield at Fox has expressed the bottom line more succinctly than I have: "[Drudge is] still doing the right thing and it’s smart of him to have figured that out as a publicity tool."
Additionally, given the IRS's posture of targeting during the past several years, it's smart of Drudge to be very careful.
Matt's first headline at the Drudge Report several hours after his tweet was: "OBAMACARE TAX COLLECTION BEGINS; WHITE HOUSE SLAMS DRUDGE 'LIE'" As long as the government cashes his estimated payment remittance, it will be absolutely true that the government has collected the first installment of his Obamacare penalty for not carrying health insurance, i.e., that collection has indeed begun.
The White House's tweeted response to which Drudge referred was, well, dumber than a box of rocks: "Flat lie, no fee for previous year. Scary how much influence he once had." Jessie Lee, the staffer, is the White House's Director of Progressive Media and Online Response (yes, the White House really has such a position; isn't that comforting?).
Uh, Jessie: Nobody's talking about taxes paid in 2014 for 2013; we're talking about taxes for 2014 which those who are required to make quarterly estimated payments must make during 2014.
Jessie's allies in the progressive media piled on. Talking Points Memo's Dylan claimed that "Matt Drudge Is (Probably) Lying About Paying A Huge Obamacare 'Liberty Tax.'" Uh, no. He sent money. He has paid it.
At the Wire, Arit John falsely claimed that "Matt Drudge Has About 316 Days Until He Can Pay His Obamacare 'Liberty Tax.'" I guess he thinks Drudge has to pay it all by January 15 of next year. That's is inconsistent with the claim that the penalty is not due until you file your 2014 return, which isn't due until April 15, 2015. The 2014 tax forms may not even be printed by January 15, 2015.
Here are some comments on the situation panelists made on Greta Van Susteren's Monday night show (bolds are mine):
Rick Klein, ABC News Political Directo: Here's the thing. I think Rule 1 of Twitter is that if you're going to pick a fight, be right. And actually Matt Drudge points out that in fact because he's a small business, he pays quarterly estimated taxes. He's paying his 2014 taxes right now, not his 2013 taxes. So it appears that he actually was right.
... Rule 2 is if you're going to pick a fight with Matt Drudge, you super-duper better be right, because the guy has a lot of influence still ...
Greta Van Susteren: Y'know Robert it might have been better if the White House hadn't taken the bait. Even if the White House had been right, it would have been better if the White House not to take the bait.
(Robert Costa of the Washington Post proceeded to ignore Van Susteren's point and talked about how Republicans would "make Obamacare a political issue." — Ed.)
... A.B. Stoddard, The Hill: Well, I think it's not good to use the word "liar" until you've checked your facts, number one, if you're a staffer. But at the same time, I think that even people at the White House super-duper don't know what's in Obamacare. And this is a big problem as we get to the enrollment deadline.
... If you're a millennial and you're watching this and you think, "Wait a minute. They didn't know how to create a web site. Then they had some appeals system sitting in paper in file cabinets in Kentucky that they still haven't figured out how to deal with. And now, only sick people are in it. It's all going to change anyway. I don't have to deal with this, because it's some joke. They fight with Matt Drudge, and no one knows what they're doing."
It's bad press for this enrollment deadline, at which they're trying to get a last-minute million people into the system who are young and healthy and less risky so that our prices stay affordable. I just don't think it's smart.
That's for sure. That goes for the White House and the press, whose collective ignorance Matt Drudge has briliiantly exposed.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.