Republicans are responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the individual mandate by constructing a new “death panels”-like lie. The law, they argue, imposes a burdensome tax on millions of middle class families who will have to pay a penalty for not purchasing health care coverage by 2014. The line originates in the majority’s decision, which found that Congress has the authority to require individuals to buy coverage under its taxing power, but it doesn’t mean what the Republicans are suggesting.
The truth is that the penalty for not buying insurance — $695 or 2.5 percent of household income — is well in line with other policies that are designed to encourage and promote a particular kind of economic behavior. On Friday morning, NBC’s Chuck Todd compared the penalty to a speeding ticket and asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to distinguish between the two taxes. Cantor could not:
TODD: On the tax front quickly, is a speeding ticket a tax? By that same definition? You can avoid paying this tax if you get insurance. [...]
CANTOR: First of all, let me — I can’t respond to whether the speeding ticket would be considered a tax or not under the states’ authority any states’ authority. What I can tell you is the court came down on this issue decided that it was a tax to coerce some type of behavior.
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