Topics: Obamacare

House Democrat has 'no idea' how feds came up with individual mandate tax penalty

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Beltway Confidential,Congress,Joel Gehrke,Obamacare

Obamacare contains a lot of "drafting errors" that produce "confusion" about the meaning of the law, according to a House Democrat who has "no idea" why the individual mandate tax penalty is set at its current rate.

"The law was written in not the usual way -- where we had all the hearings and everything -- using the reconciliation process, which is a kind of political maneuver inside the Congress," Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said on C-SPAN Wednesday morning. "There were some things that didn't get in it, and there's some errors in drafting. There's some drafting errors where there's confusion that are now appearing in the courts. There were all kinds of things that were not quite perfect when it was written."

The congressman was stumped by a question about why the individual mandate tax penalty is $95 or one percent of above the tax filing threshold in 2014.

"I have no idea how that number was arrived at," he said.

McDermott also responded to someone who tweeted that he would not pay the mandate tax. "With respect to the gentleman who says he's not going to pay it, you know, we've got scofflaws in this society and we disrespect them," McDermott said. "People who don't pay their taxes or their responsibility, we have no respect for them whatsoever."

He knows one thing, though: The government needs to meet its goal of enrolling 7 million people by the end of March.

"If it doesn't reach the 7 million mark, we're going to have to have some talking with ourselves about how we finance it, because the insurance companies are counting on that also," McDermott said. "They are going to be in problems if we don't get the seven million."

It might be hard to have that conversation with the White House team, given the difficulty members of Congress sometimes have getting presidential aides to take their calls.

"You call into the White House and say 'I want to talk to somebody' — I'm an ordinary citizen and I identify myself as Congressman McDermott, well, then, that gets me up a layer, but it doesn't necessarily get me straight through to who I want to talk to," he said.

McDermott said that the White House team's communication with him improved "tremendously" after he complained about the lack of contact. He now has White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough's phone number.

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