President Obama’s spokesman denied that the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate is a tax, as he combated the idea that the president has raised taxes on the middle class.
“[I]t is simply a fallacy to say that this is a broad-based tax,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today. “That’s not what the opinion stated that was authored by the Chief Justice. The Affordable Care Act is constitutional under Congress’s taxing authority, but this is clearly a penalty that affects less than one percent of the American population.”
Carney added, “Look, it’s a penalty,” when reporters pressed him about the court’s ruling.
But the Supreme Court did rule that the individual mandate is a tax. “[T]he shared responsibility mandate may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax, not a penalty,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his controversial majority opinion upholding the law. “[I]t is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance,” Roberts concluded.
Carney said that such a requirement is effectively voluntary. “[I]t is a penalty you only pay as a matter of choice, if you’re in that 1 percent and you can afford health insurance but choose not to,” he said.