The President Still Can’t Call Obamacare A Tax

February 15th, 2015

The Times reports that the White House is pushing people to sign up for Obamacare by stressing the financial penalties for failing to do so.

President Obama and his team are making a final, urgent push to boost government health insurance sign-ups in the next two days, in part by making sure people know that tax penalties for remaining uninsured have risen significantly.

After the enrollment deadline passes on Sunday, every adult without insurance will be subject to a minimum penalty of $325 when filing taxes next year. The fee will rise the following year to $695 per adult, more than seven times the $95 penalty for being uninsured in 2014.

The White House calculation is that highlighting the financial risk for consumers will be effective as a further incentive for people to enroll. White House officials also say they want to be transparent to try to avoid protests by taxpayers who could be surprised to discover they will be hit with substantial penalties.

Yet, the President can only bring himself to call the mandate “tax” a “penalty” or “fine.”

“If you can afford it, and you don’t get it, you’re going to pay a fee,” Mr. Obama said on the “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” last week. “So you might as well just go ahead and get health insurance instead of paying a penalty with nothing to show for it.”

The president echoed that message on “The Big Philly Show” and the “Yolanda Adams Morning Show” last week. In California, officials who oversee a state-run health care marketplace are also reminding people of the hefty penalties they could face if they do not get insurance before the deadline.