The battle between leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties over whether the Affordable Care Act is partially financed by taxes proves only one thing: They think the people have no sense.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate under the power of Congress to levy taxes. Because the law gives people a choice — pay money to the Internal Revenue Service or buy health insurance — the political debate has devolved to the lowest possible level.
“Ah ha!” GOP leaders cry, “the Supreme Court holding proves it’s a tax.” “Oh no!” Democrat officials squirm, “people might see this as a tax.”
It is what it is. Maybe it’s a “tax,” maybe a “penalty” and maybe an “exaction” — the term used by the court.
Who cares? It is an amount of money that people must pay if they are either so reckless or so poor that they decline to buy a product. The poor will receive a subsidy to assist them in buying the product. The reckless will be deprived of their past practice of saving a few dollars with the knowledge that those who do pay premiums will be stuck with the cost of their care in an emergency.
There are — gasp — other taxes included in the law, most imposed on companies that will benefit from the fact that our health care system now will service a much larger percentage of Americans.
Despite what politicians may think, voters are not so slow that they depend on the label used by either judges or politicians.
If it is a tax, so be it. America has paid taxes for goals far less noble than providing an opportunity for basic health care to the 30 million citizens who currently go without it.