The Blog

Obama's Budget Director Contradicts Obamacare Supreme Court Argument


12:08 PM, Feb 15, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

As the liberal website Slate has explained about Obamacare, President Obama's signature legislation "combine[s] an express mandatory insurance requirement with tax penalties . . . for noncompliance." Which is why the Obama "administration’s lawyers have cited . . . the tax . . . power in support of the mandate," and that remains a central tenet of the administration's Supreme Court case in defending Obamacare. It is not the White House is mandating care, they are telling the Supreme Court, but it's that one will be taxed if he does not get health care. 

But today on Capitol Hill, acting White House budget director Jeff Zients directly undermined the administration's claim by saying that there is no tax element of Obamacare. Here's the compelling exchange: 

Congressman Scott Garrett:  “Thank you and I appreciate your testimony today. I appreciate you also being here from the private sector. You probably feel a little lonely sometime over at the White House in that respect. But I’m glad that you’re here, coming with that experience. One point  though, you did just say there are no tax increases for those folks who are making under – “

Acting White House Budget Director Jeff Zients:  “$250,000. “

Rep. Garrett:  “-- $250,000.”

Zeints:  “Families under $250,000. Individuals under 200k.”

Rep. Garrett:  “So if I am part of a family that does not buy health insurance in violation of the President's health care program and I got to pay because of that, that is not a tax incre – that is not a tax on me?”

Zeints:  “The Affordable Care Act saves money.”

Rep. Garrett:  “I understand that, but is that a tax on me then if I do not pay that, or is that not a tax?”

Zeints:  “I'm not sure I'm following the question.”

Rep. Garrett:  “You said there’s no tax increases on people who make under $250,000. If I make under $250,000 and I do not buy health insurance as I’m required to under the Affordable Healthcare Act , is that a tax on me or is that not a tax on me?”

Zeints: “Well this is –“

Rep. Garrett: “A moment ago you said there’s no tax increase.”

Zeints: “There aren’t.”                                                                                     

Rep. Garrett: “So that’s not a tax?”

Zeints:  “No.”

Rep. Garrett:  “That's not a tax. Okay. I just want to be clear on that because that's not the argument the administration is making. Let's move on -- before the Supreme Court.”

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 20 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers