If this is a problem, don't go on national television and give exclusive interviews.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You were against the individual mandate...

OBAMA: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: …during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t

How is that not a tax?

[snip of semantic-free commentary by the President]

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.

OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.

Via Jazz Shaw, the relevant passage:

Excise Tax. The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax. If a taxpayer’s MAGI is between 100-300 percent of FPL, the excise tax for failing to obtain coverage for an individual in a taxpayer unit (either as a taxpayer or an individual claimed as a dependent) is $750 per year. However, the minimum penalty for the taxpayer unit is $1,500. If a taxpayer’s MAGI is above 300 percent of FPL the penalty for failing to obtain coverage for an individual in a taxpayer unit (either as a taxpayer or as an individual claimed as a dependent) is $950 year. However, the maximum penalty amount a family above 300 percent of FPL would pay is $3,800.

Please note for the record that the transcripts show that they were talking about Baucus' tax bill. Points to George for pressing the point - and bringing in the dictionary definition, which the President responded to with all the - but points taking away for not demolishing the President on the spot with that one. Ach, well.

Video making this point after the fold.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to Moe Lane.